Helpful College Info
College can be challenging for
any young person. However, for those experiencing Selective Mutism it
can be extremely stressful. The simply act of attending college is
indicative of tremendous courage and growth for those with Selective
Mutism. Most people in life may be limited in what they can achieve in
their lives because their shyness kept them from even trying. The
success of going to college will bring more confidence.
Choosing a college that is a good fit may be quite difficult. The
child’s personality, severity of the mutism, and comfort level
need to be considered. There are many choices and one size does not fit
all when weighing the options. The decision to go to a small or large
college, attend locally or go out of state is a personal choice. They
all offer pros and cons that may be beneficial to the Selective Mutism
teenager. For the teen that needs more security, they may want to
consider a community college and may not be ready to go away to school
and need the comfort of home. The smaller classes may be less
intimidating when called upon to participate in classroom discussions.
The small school may not be so overwhelming and be easier to make
friends. Everybody knows who you are and the professors know the
students. This provides a strong sense of community. The small college
has fewer majors, smaller library resources, fewer entertainment and
Others may be ready to attend a large university and live away from
home. This offers the student an opportunity for a fresh start where no
one knows them as the “shy, quiet one”. Most are ready to
talk at this point but may be reluctant to do so in their home towns as
people who know them may make a big deal of it, which causes more
anxiety as it draws attention to them. Living away from home helps them
mature into adulthood, gain self-reliance, independence, and
responsibilities. They learn to advocate for themselves and to function
in the outside world.
For the students living in the residence dooms or campus apartments
offer a great avenue for the student to develop social skills. As
students live in close quarters they usually participate in school
activities, movies, pizza, etc as a group. This makes it easier to hang
out together and makes a huge difference for the Selective Mutism
student. They don’t have to initiate the contact for
socialization as they are usually invited into the circle. Large
schools social possibilities are endless and offer lots of activities
on and off campus.
Larger universities may have several hundred to several thousand in
attendance. Big schools offer more sports and student activities. They
offer a wide variety of majors and social opportunities. They have
large classes with little student-teacher interaction. Some students
like the anonymity that comes with being one of thousands of students.
Some lecture halls could have several hundred students in the class.
One advantage of this would be that usually no speaking is required
because the professor would not be able to finish his lecture. Some
classes do not require presentations of public speaking unless its one
of your small classes. If after a few days you know that the particular
class will cause undue anxiety due to pressure to speak, consider
dropping it and adding another class. Most universities have a certain
number of days in which this can be accomplished with no penalties.
With determination and perseverance the Selective Mutism student can
For financial aid parents and students should check with the following
organizations for assistance.
Federal PELL Grants--Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Federal Pell Grant Program provides direct federal grants to
undergraduate students who required financial assistance to meet
educational expenses. The non-repayable awards are available to
eligible students attending approved colleges and universities,
vocational-technical schools, hospital schools of nursing, and other
approved postsecondary educational institutions.
Your states Higher Education
Grant—This program provides grants awarded (within limits of
available funds) to qualified state undergraduate students who require
financial assistance to attend approved public and private institutions
of higher education. The amount of these grants fluctuates according to
college choice. Students should complete a common application for state
level financial aid. Students should check with your states Department
of Higher Education for information. In the Internet search engines you
may type in your state name and Department of Higher Education for a
listing in your area.
Federal College Work-Study Program— The
Federal College Work-Study Programs provides jobs for undergraduates
and graduate students who need financial aid. It gives students a
chance to earn a part of their educational expenses. The institutional
aid office may assign recipients to employment on campus. Eligibility
for work-study assistance and the amount each student may earn is
determined by the aid officer. A participant will be paid at least the
current Federal minimum wage. Students should check with the schools
financial aid office to see if they may qualify to participate in this
Rehabilitation Services--The Division of
Rehabilitation Services (DRS) is available in every state. It is a
program of state government helping those who are disabled to achieve a
lifestyle of independence and integration within the workplace, the
family, and the local community. Funding is provided by State and
Federal funds. Eligibility includes a physical or mental disability
that would keep a person from obtaining suitable employment, or
achieving a lifestyle of independence and dignity. Disability also
includes those who struggle with learning disabilities.