WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – For the first time this week, high school students and graduates on the autism spectrum are finding out what it is like to live on a college campus. Research shows many students with autism struggle to find educational opportunities after high school, but West Chester University hopes to change that.
All summer, the university is hosting overnight stays with high school students, as well as recent graduates.READ MORE: Mother Of 6 Stabbed To Death In West Philly Had Protective Order Against Fiance Charged In Her Murder
The students will stay in the dorms, explore campus and eat in the dining halls while learning problem-solving and self-determination skills.
Rising high school senior Emi Keane is staying in the dorms this week. She says it has been an eye-opening experience.
“I don’t know a lot of people, besides myself, in my school or in my area that have autism like me,” Keane said. “And now that I’m here, I realize that there are people out there like me and they have similar interests as me and they’re creative and wonderful people.”READ MORE: Philabundance Distributing More Food Than Ever Amid Skyrocketing Prices Caused By Inflation
Keane gets to talk with student ambassadors, like Katie Noll, who share their experiences about going to college and being on the autism spectrum.
Noll is returning to West Chester University to get an advanced degree in history.
“I really wanted to speak to high school students because I understand how scary all the college search process is, and it’s very important for them to know that there are resources out there that do help them and do want them to succeed,” Noll said.MORE NEWS: Darren Arnold Sought For Allegedly Setting Fire To West Philly Home Where 150 Jugs Of Gasoline Were Found
The university says this is their first year running these programs, which are broken down by age range. They hope to do more of these camps next summer.