College Preparation Mentoring for Neurodiverse High School Students

What is Horizons?

Horizons is a 7-week college preparation mentoring program for neurodiverse (e.g. autistic individuals; those with ADHD, learning disabilities) high school students (or recent high school graduates) who plan to go to college/university. Students meet as a group online once a week for an hour for 7-weeks with trained UMass Lowell student mentors. Together they follow a curriculum designed to help students 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. Students do not need to be planning to come to UMass Lowell. Horizons begins each February.

What will we do in the meetings?

Our curriculum covers a range of topics based on the interests and needs of the students. 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.

What does Horizons cost?

There is a $75 fee to participate 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 mentors 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.: 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 150 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 autistic adults.