Match Me: Please help neurodiverse aiming for welcoming environment

Demographics

  • US domestic
  • NYC
  • Small public school, very urban low income area.
    Senior class projected to be less than 150. More than 70% of student body qualify for free/reduced lunch.
  • Male/African-American
  • Other: ASD, low-income index, single parent household

Intended Major(s)
—Environmental Science
—Plant Science
—Microbiology
I want to do something science/plant related that isn’t horticulture or botany.

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.4
  • Weighted HS GPA : 4.75
  • Class Rank: School doesn’t rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores: SAT/1060
    (Yikes. Yes I know. It’s embarrassing, I’m retaking it definitely. I just froze.)

Coursework
APs (Current): AP Human Geo, AP English Language and Composition, AP US History
APs (Next Year): AP Bio, AP Psych, AP CSP, AP Statistics

—2 years Mandarin
—3 years Spanish

College Courses:
Biotechnology

Awards
National Honor Society
Local Entrepreneurship Award

Extracurriculars
—District representative for national anti-bullying organization.
—State youth representative for special education advocacy organization.
—Youth council member for non-profit environmental conservation organization.
—Intern/student rep for tech company.
—300 hours of community service (community garden and local environmental protection agency)
—Varsity Tennis

Essays/LORs/Other
Planning to discuss how I’ve had to overcome others preconceived notions about what it mean to have ASD. Will likely also recycle a few school essays. Writing is not my strength.

Cost Constraints / Budget
Unless I hit the lotto tomorrow…yes no. Cost is very much a factor.

Schools

  • Safety
    CUNY (City University System of NY)
  • Likely
    SUNY (State University System of NY)
  • Match
    ???
  • Reach
    ???
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How far from home are you willing to travel? Also, don’t worry about that SAT. Worse case scenario, you just apply test optional, no big deal. Also, are you interested in HBCUs or not interested? The more we know about what you want, the more we can help.

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See what your net price may be
at Adelphi

Has some specific support for ASD

My concern is affordability. But some of the support services may be available at CUNY or SUNY Purchase or other colleges.

Take a good look at CUNY, said to have free support services.
May vary by location.

Edited to add: see online summer program for high schoolers. Deadline June 10.
“ York College of the City University of New York invites applications from qualified high school students to participate in an exciting six-week summer r… program. Qualified high school students will join college faculty research programs, attend seminars, and participate in other exciting scholarly events. Stipends for qualified students are also available. ”
https://www.york.cuny.edu/se/ysrp/hs-student-app-form

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I’m willing to go anywhere, long as my differences will not overshadow the experience. The friendier the campus the better.

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Also my concern. I have been applying to scholarships too. Crossing my fingers. Thank you for the rec.

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Just a few questions:
Will your family be contributing any amount? Have they run a FAFSA calculator to see what their estimated, expected family contribution will be? What are your support needs (EF skills, classroom support, counseling, coaching, just extended time)? Do you have a school within commuting distance?

https://studentaid.gov/aid-estimator/

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Are there any public colleges that you can attend while living at home? That is probably going to be your least expensive option, and a financial safety.

In looking at lists of schools with strong learning support services, many of the institutions either have extra fees (usually many thousands of dollars a year), or the no-cost programs are usually at state schools where the out-of-state (OOS) costs are significantly higher, and the budget here is tight.

One school that has been noted for its programming is Clark in Massachusetts. Its services are described on this page (along with those of other schools) and in the most recent year Clark met 92% of students’ demonstrated need. It’s also part of the association of Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL).

Hendrix is another CTCL, and it meets 93% of financial need. It also has a scholarship that allows students to pay what they would at their state flagship. As New York has some of the most affordable public schools for in-state students, that’s a big benefit. Any federal aid would then be subtracted from that flagship amount, so Hendrix could end up being around the cost of SUNY Binghamton. This page offers some information on the services it offers students.

This site provides links to all the Disability Services Offices at each SUNY campus. Some of the SUNYs you may want to look into more closely include:

  • Environmental Science & Forestry
  • Agriculture and Technology
  • Oneonta
  • Plattsburgh

Some other schools that you may want to consider include:

  • College of the Atlantic (ME): Met 97% of financial need. This is a very small college (369 undergrads) so making sure it’s the right fit would be crucial
  • Mansfield University of Pennsylvania: Has very affordable OOS costs and met 93% of financial need
  • Marietta (OH): Met 91% of financial need
  • Anderson (IN): Met 94% of financial need
  • Monmouth (IL): Met 90% of financial need
  • Albion (MI): Met 91% of financial need
  • Valparaiso (IN): Met 92% of financial need
  • College of St. Benedict (MN): Met 90% of financial need
  • Stonehill (MA): Met 90% of financial need
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The array of majors at SUNY-ESF might appeal to you: Undergraduate Degree Programs | Undergraduate Admissions | SUNY-ESF
ESF is small (about 1700 undergrads), but it’s immediately adjacent to Syracuse University, with cross-registration and a lot of shared resources, including SU’s abundant disability-related resources including the Disability Cultural Center Home - Disability Cultural Center – Syracuse University and the Center for Disability Resources https://disabilityresources.syr.edu/about/ as well as the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Learning (a program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities - not a program that you need, but its presence speaks to the overall commitment to inclusiveness). Applying to SU itself would also be an option; run their Net Price Calculator and see how the aid would look.

RIT is well known as a welcoming destination for students with ASD. (Another aspect of the campus’ inclusiveness is their extensive programming for Deaf students; one of the nation’s two leading Black Deaf scholars teaches there.) Their enviro science program, which has its own 60-acre nature preserve, might appeal to you Environmental Science BS | RIT RIT doesn’t guarantee full-need-met aid, but a package that meets need via a combination of need-based aid and merit aid is definitely possible. The downside, here and at many other schools, is that the wraparound support services for ASD come at an extra charge. You may be able to get such programs covered through your local department of voc rehab. Financial Support | Spectrum Support Program | RIT

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I have only my mom and she already told me I am on my own at 18. Basically if I can’t afford it I was going to work or join a technical training program so I will have practical skills (I’m good with my hands and can build stuff). As for supports: I take honors classes with supports (which here means there is a special education teach available (but they aren’t supposed to intervene UNLESS I forgotten something (i.e didn’t turn in homework I did), guided notes, adaptive devices (adaptive laptop and recorder), I see the psychologist once a month and have what is known as “SESS” twice a week (which is mainly just a slowed down tutoring session one period a week). I would say my executive function could maybe use some work? I use a lot of post-it notes. I’m working on being better with calendars and planners.

I thought maybe I could try college after I saw the stories on Kalin Bennet and Anthony Ianni (Anthony Ianni and I even have the same diagnois). I am not a “baller” but I figured I could at least try to go to college. I don’t want to be anyone’s burden. All of CUNY is within commuting distance, but I wanted to go outside of NYC. It’s very expensive here.

I’m going to check all of these out! You provided really helpful information! Thank you so very much (especially for the schools, as I did not know about most of these (except the SUNYs).

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Thank you. I had heard about RIT, my only fear is I heard they are very selective and have a quite competitive student body. So, while I am proud of the things I have accomplished in high school, I am realistic enough to understand that I will not be much competition to other types of non-diverse students. Just getting to ANY college where I can learn more and make connections (like friends and do all the college social stuff) would be a win for me.

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Does this mean that you neet to be out of the house at 18, or would you still be able to live at home but that she is unable to provide monetary assistance for you to attend college?

You have already received great advice and suggestions. Here are a couple of more colleges you may want to check out:

In New York, look at Hofstra’s NOAH scholars program (financial aid for socioeconomically disadvantaged students) and PALS program (assistance for neurodivergent students). You may also want to check out Marquette in Milwaukee, which has an autism support program (On Your Marq). Marquette can be quite generous with financial aid. I don’t believe these two schools have dedicated botany majors, so you would have to study straight biology.

Large public schools can be very welcoming of neurodivergent students and offer great support services. They also tend to have the botany programs you are interested in. One such school you should check out is University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaigne, which has free support services for ASD students. Out-of-state public schools are very pricey, but with your background you may qualify for substantial aid. You’ll never know unless you apply.

I know your SAT score isn’t what you want it to be (yet!), but you have great stats and you should be very proud of your grades and achievements so far.

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I believe OP said not horticulture or botany.

There are a lot of OOS publics with great ASD support programs, but need-based aid for OOS students tends to be very limited. I can’t imagine how UIUC could be affordable. If I thought the aid would be there, I would suggest Appalachian State in NC for its ASD community/supports, but even their big scholarships don’t cover OOS costs.

Hofstra is definitely worth a look, though; they have a long history of inclusiveness.

St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia is another Catholic U, like Marquette, that has a strong ASD support program.

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I’ve known of a couple of ASD students admitted to Clark University in Worcester MA. One of them got a fantastic merit scholarship. Could be worth a look! Undergraduate Admissions – Clark University

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See full ride scholarships offered by NC A&T in Greensboro NC. Your stats are close, especially if weighted GPA may be used.
Consideration for the National Alumni Scholarship
begins Sept.15

The rest of your application and FAFSA is due Oct. 15.

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RIT is a reach, but I wouldn’t rule it out. The selectivity varies quite a bit by major/program, and you aren’t looking to apply for computer science. Also, being URM will help. It’s definitely not a sure thing (especially given that they’re need-aware and you need a lot of aid) but there would be no harm in applying if the NPC suggests that it would be affordable. Same with Syracuse.

Earlham could be worth a look. It’s a small liberal arts college with a large endowment and a strong commitment to racial and economic diversity. Its Quaker lineage informs a very supportive and accepting culture. Anecdotally, I have heard of neurodiverse students who have had good experiences there. They have a student-run farm with a focus on sustainable agriculture, and offer an “applied minor” (includes co-curricular activities as well as academics) in sustainable agriculture which pairs well with various bio or enviro science oriented majors. Earlham’s turnaround in terms of admissions decisions is very quick, so if you apply early, you could have an acceptance in your pocket early in the admissions process, which could be a great stress-reliever. I feel pretty optimistic that you’d be accepted and get a good financial aid package.

Allegheny College is another smaller school that could offer a good fit and give you the financial support you need. Environmental majors are a particular strength there.

Earlham and Allegheny both make this list: Colleges for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Friendly Ones | CollegeXpress There’s also a “very friendly” list but few of those would be affordable for you. One to look at would be Pace, which has campuses both in NYC and in Westchester County. Their ASD program is pricey but again, you might be able to get that paid for through voc rehab, if you could get enough aid to make the school itself affordable. I’m just not sure whether Pace is sufficiently generous with aid.

Others from the “friendly” list that might work aid-wise (not guaranteed, but need-based aid combining with merit to cover your full documented need would be within the realm of possibility) include McDaniel and Ursinus, as well as Clark which has been mentioned already.

An out-of-the-box possibility from that list is the University of the Ozarks, which admits only low-income students, provides full tuition scholarships to all admitted students and has strong ASD support https://ozarks.edu/academics/jones-learning-center/ . It’s very competitive to get in (14% acceptance rate) but not in a lower-stats-need-not-apply kind of way; your stats are well in range. If the school’s Christian orientation would work for you, it could be worth applying. Admissions & Enrollment Requirements | College of the Ozarks Berea College is another school that’s for low income students only and meets full need through a combination of grants and an on-campus work program in which all students participate. About Disability & Accessibility Services - Disability and Accessibility Services Berea is also Christian but not as overtly religious as U of the Ozarks.

Warren Wilson in NC is another college with a work program. It’s not tuition-free for all like Berea, but it has scholarships for which you could qualify Milepost One: A Free Tuition Program - Warren Wilson College It’s extremely environmentally oriented and hands-on, which it sounds like you might enjoy. Majors include conservation biology, ecological forestry, and sustainable agriculture, in addition to the typical bio/biochem/etc.Academic Support - Warren Wilson College

NC A&T is a great idea too.

I think a general question to be thinking about is the extent to which you feel the need for a cohort of peers - both racially and in terms of neurodiversity, vs. being comfortable with that part of your identity being underrepresented as long as you feel welcomed/supported.

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You are correct that OP said no horticulture or botany. Thank you for catching my error. My old eyes and brain aren’t as good as they used to be. :slight_smile:

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Sorry for the delay in reply I needed to pull up my list of school I been looking at. I am definitely interested in the HBCUs. Right now I have Auburn Montgomery, Alcorn State University, Allen University, North Carolina A&T State University and North Carolina Central University. I do worry about some of the Niche reviews. There is a lot of students complaining of “support” issues at a few schools, and students seemingly feeling their school wasn’t keeping up with the times?

Factors that are important to me are:

  • a school with a good “student support” offices for disabilities (tutors, learning supports, advocates in the event I have an issue with a professor).
  • a relatively easy to access surrounding neighborhood (like for example Landmark while a good “supports” school is basically in the middle of nowhere Vermont. There is not even a grocery store nearby. So if I need to decompress from the “school” environment I’d basically be trapped there (really not sure who told them that is a good idea, but it is not a good fit with me).
    diverse student body.
  • really good science labs, greenhouses and over all biological sciences department, because that is where I will be most of the time.
  • And (but this is a wish more than a deal breaker) mass transit available, so I can explore if I don’t wanna stay on campus on the weekends.
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