A student recently came to my office, and amidst his excitement about making the next step toward independence, he stated, “I guess I’m just nervous about the unknown.” Perhaps that is precisely what makes transitions, at any level, a bit daunting. When we are younger, making the move from one activity to the next within the same space can be enough to cause a major meltdown. As we grow, we learn to navigate these transitions and utilize resources to minimize the anxiety associated with beginning something new.
At CIP Long Beach, a group of six students who are ready to transition from full-time support to a more independent living situation are working together weekly to build both their community and online resources. They have learned how to register to vote, how to find an apartment, how to locate post-CIP support, how to set appointments and find health professionals, etc. Here is a sampling of resources and skills they have found helpful.
Social – www.Meetup.com
This online resource, available in most major cities, brings people with similar interests together to build social connections within in the community. There is something for everyone!
Mobility – Local public transportation, Uber, Lyft
Becoming familiar with the local public transportation system, and learning how to plan a trip from Point A to Point B and back, is crucial. Traveling by bus can be an affordable option, especially if you qualify for a student or reduced fare. For those geographical areas that may not boast a substantial public transit system, other options to explore include Uber and Lyft car services.
Online resources such as Mint and YouNeedABudget.com (YNAB) allow you to track your income and expenses, set short and long term savings goals, and monitor trends using visual aids.
Scheduling – Google Calendar
For managing commitments, maintaining a schedule, keeping a task list, inviting others to join an activity, and receiving built-in reminders, Google Calendar can be an extremely powerful resource. I encourage exploration of a variety of scheduling and calendar options in order to find what best fits the needs of the individual.
Housing – Touring apartments, finding a roommate, and understanding the lease
Our recommendation as a group is to practice what questions to ask, practice searching for options (www.apartmentfinder.com, www.hotpads.com, local leasing offices, etc.), and practice taking as many apartment tours as possible well in advance of transition. For one of our students, this included searching the college Roommate Finder website daily and setting up roommate interviews to determine compatibility.
Chipping away at the “unknown” of a transition can make all the difference in confidence and success for our students. Practice, practice, and more practice utilizing these skills and resources before the transition benefits the student throughout their lifetime. We are confident that these students are taking the next step prepared and ready to tackle the future!
About the Author: Crystal Hayes, MEd
Crystal is the recent recipient of our 2015-2016 Staff of the Year Award. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Instrumental Music Education from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, and a Master of Education degree in Special Education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Crystal’s passion is student success, and she believes each step toward goal attainment is worth celebrating!