Nicholas Fearn attended the Discovery Summer School in July 2014 and shares his thoughts on the decisions he has to make around going to university.
Uni Life: Yay or Nay?
Moving on to further education at university level is a daunting prospect for any youngster, mainly due to the pressures of having to achieve high grades and impress an admissions panel.
But when you’re diagnosed with a social anxiety condition such as Autism, things can be a lot harder. And I’m on about being able to cope with new change and the possibility of living away from home.
Personally, this is a situation I’ve found myself in. I possess the skills and capabilities to move on from college to university but feel slightly bewildered with the whole social aspect of change.
I mean, I’ve already experienced the milestone of leaving secondary school and going to college, but I know that university is a whole different story; it could potentially see me moving away from home.
Perhaps that is a tad dramatic, but it’s still something I’ve been worrying about. However, I recently found myself relieved, simply by taking part in Cardiff University’s Discovery project.
Basically, it’s a residential project that acts as a way to support those with a diagnosis of Autism and to encourage them on to joining university or further education once they leave six-form or college.
My parents signed me up for the project, which I wasn’t too keen to hear. In fact, I was disappointed that they would even try to get me to stay away from home and with complete strangers.
But I couldn’t thank them enough, in all honesty. Why? Because by taking part in the project, I was able to experience the wonder of being able to socialise with individuals on the same plate as me.
The residential wasn’t too long, and it was rather chilled out. My parents drove me to the university, and I then booked myself in and met with a group of youngsters and two student ambassadors
I stayed with these guys overnight at the university’s Halls of Residence. Here, we got an insight into university life and were expected to be independent, which included cooking our own meals.
We made a pizza from scratch, using the ingredients we had purchased from Tesco Express on the same day. It was a lot of fun, and we really got stuck into acting like awesome Michelin Star chefs.
It allowed us to bond together, despite the whole social boundary of not knowing each other. And the student ambassadors were great in making sure we all got along together and contributed.
Once we had demolished our scrumptious pizzas, we enjoyed an evening full of free popcorn and playing on the Wii console. Perhaps not too educational, but it was a lot of fun. Simply put. Period.
The next day was a bit more serious: two course taster sessions. We started off with a task in Computer Science, creating some lines of code using a Raspberry Pi mini-computer.
Perhaps more to my style, we then had a session in media. We were tasked with finding sources and creating an original news story that could be used in the Gair Rhydd student newspaper.
Both sessions were very interesting, and they gave us an excellent insight into what studying university is like. Oh, and we were able to socialise and work together in a rather coherent manner.
To finish the day off, we all visited Cardiff’s Hilton hotel for a mini graduation ceremony. Maybe it was a little over-the-top, but it was certainly a laugh. We even tried the famous gown and cap on!
This just goes to show that yes, change is hard, but you can’t let it rule your life; we’re all in the same boat. And really, that has nothing to do with Autism or any other disorder. It’s just part of humanity.
Whatever the case, I enjoyed the two days, and I met some great people and have some new friends I’ll be sure to keep in touch with. And I really owe this to my parents, who do so much for me.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mattbuck
I’m a young, ambitious journalist and blogger and have not let a diagnosis of a form of Autism impede my drive and enthusiasm to succeed in a tough industry… (read more about Nic on his website by clicking here)