College Preparation Mentoring for Neurodiverse High School Students

What is Horizons?

Horizons is a college preparation mentoring program for neurodiverse (e.g. autistic individuals; those with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities) high school students (or recent high school graduates) who plan to go to college/university. The goal of Horizons is to help neurodiverse high school students have a better idea of what college will be like, to feel more confident about going to college, and to be more successful when they transition to college. High school students meet as a group on Zoom once a week for an hour with trained UMass Lowell student mentors (typically Tuesdays 4-5 p.m.). Meetings run in Spring (Session 1: February-April; 12 meetings) and again in Fall (Session 2: September-November; 12 meetings). There is a $100 fee for each Spring and Fall session. Students do not need to be planning to attend UMass Lowell. Mentors are trained and overseen by Ashleigh Hillier, UMass Lowell Psychology professor.

What will we do in the meetings?

Each week the mentees/students decide what topics to discuss for that session, with guidance from the mentors. Break out rooms are utilized to make sure all questions are answered and to provide more tailored mentoring. Typically topics that come up are:

  • 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.

What does Horizons cost?

Meetings run in Spring (Session 1: February-April; 12 meetings) and again in Fall (Session 2: September-November; 12 meetings) typically Tuesdays 4-5 p.m. There is a $100 fee for each Spring and Fall session.

How do I apply for Horizons?

Please contact the Program Director, Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. by email: ashleigh_hillier@uml.edu 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 300 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.
  • Ashleigh also runs a social networking program for young neurodiverse adults called The Network.