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Mike Westwood
Noodle Expert Member

March 10, 2021

This article details why the college environment is a good place to mature and discover yourself. It will be told solely through my perspective.

The college experience is what any person makes it, with a mixed bag of fun and stressful moments leading up to earning their degree. At the same time, each individual is unique with different backgrounds and personalities, which makes college a good opportunity to meet new people and make friendships. College is also a great place to discover yourself, as in figuring out your strengths and weaknesses, as well as teaching a person how to be independent and more comfortable in their own skin. That description summarizes my junior and senior years as a college student.

As far as the academic aspect of college is concerned, each major, minor and concentration presents its unique set of challenges to help students learn and grow. I did not have a minor or concentration, my major was Communication and the courses I had to take and chose to take were beneficial to my maturity as a future candidate for an employer. For instance, a course called Career Speech: Voice and Articulation was a graduation requirement and I received feedback regarding my speech skills from the professor that was both constructive and complimentary. The professor told me after one of my speaking assignments that if I learn to control my issue of talking too fast when I get excited, I have the potential to be a great reader.

That felt good to hear, because as long as I can remember, I have a habit of talking very fast when I get excited about a conversation. That habit was improved upon through this course and self-training on my own merit. I will always have to work a little harder to be self-aware of my talking too fast issue, it is a tendency that is partially part of me due to being on the autism spectrum. I just accept that effect and manage it the best I can. The best lesson I learned in college is if you put the effort in, the professors respect that and, in some cases, will agree to be a reference for you in finding jobs.

As far as the social aspect of college is concerned, it is easier to make friends if you give off positive vibes and are being yourself. I had to learn that the hard way over the course of my time in college because, due to living and dealing with anxiety, I get stressed out easily. That can get tiring for myself, and it got tiring for the good friends I made too. In other words, I used to show certain behaviors that are considered socially unappealing (e.g. seeking for reassurance too much). However, since I made really accepting friends who got to know me and understood me, I learned to not seek for reassurance so much and was just myself after a while. It took a while, but I have progressed since meeting said friends (the best friends I have ever had) and I am better off for it now.

Overall, college was both a good time and a stressful time for me. As a person with mild special needs, I matured and had some semesters that were fun and some that presented some challenges. I overcame the challenges with a lot of support and self-motivation, which I hope can show people with other forms of special needs that living on campus can be a great time with the right attitude and some self-confidence. People can be very understanding of people who are a bit quirky and being different can be positive if the quirks are presented in that manner.

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