College Preparation Mentoring for neurodiverse high school Students

What is Horizons?

Horizons is a 7-week college preparation mentoring program for neurodiverse (e.g. autism, ADHD, learning disabilities) high school students (or recent high school graduates) who plan to go to college/university. Students meet once a week for an hour for 7-weeks with a trained UMass Lowell upperclassman and follow a curriculum designed to help them have a better idea of what college will be like, to build confidence about attending college in the future, and to be more successful when they transition to college. Meetings can be in-person (at UMass Lowell) or online. Students do not need to be planning to come to UMass Lowell. Horizons runs each Spring and will next be offered in February 2022.

What will we do in the meetings?

Our curriculum covers a range of topics based on the interests and needs of the student. Examples of topics include:

  • Time management and organization strategies
  • Problem solving and self-advocacy
  • Identifying and accessing supports on campus
  • Reducing stress and self-care
  • Navigating through your major
  • Choosing classes
  • Finances
  • Social side of university
  • What will a typical day at college look like
  • What to bring to college
  • Careers, future plans.
  • Getting along with classmates.

When and where are the meetings?

You will be matched with a trained UMass Lowell student who will be your mentor. You will meet once a week for an hour for 7-weeks at a time that works for you and your mentor. You can meet in-person at UMass Lowell (whether or not you are planning to attend UMass Lowell), you can meet online through Zoom, or a combination of both. Mentees and mentors are matched as best as possible on interests and hobbies.

The program runs each Spring and starts in February.

What does Horizons cost?

There is a $75 fee to be in the Horizons program (scholarships are available). This fee covers all seven weekly meetings, an Orientation session, weekly communication with parents/caregivers, and a feedback summary at the end of the program. Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. (Program Director) and the mentor are also available throughout the program to answer any questions about the transition to college you may have.

How do I apply for Horizons?

Please email the Program Director, Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D.: for an enrollment form or with any questions.

What Else?

  • Mentors meet on a weekly basis with Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. for training, oversight, and guidance.
  • Horizons was established in 2009 and over 100 students have participated.
  • Horizons is evidence based. We have published a number of papers about our mentoring programs in peer-reviewed research journals and have presented at numerous academic conferences.
  • Hillier also runs a social networking program for young autistic adults.