Alex Wood, Director of the Franklin Academy College Transitional Support (FACTS) program, just shared with me the good news that nineteen students have signed up for FACTS for the 2018-19 academic year. Nine of the students are currently in their first, second, or third years of college, and they want to continue working with Alex. The ten additional students are currently seniors who will be graduating from Franklin Academy this June and then matriculating at some very fine colleges and universities in the fall (eight of these seniors are pictured in the photograph above).

Unless there is last-minute attrition, enrollment in FACTS for next year is closed. This is a very encouraging development, affirming the decision made by the school’s administration three years ago to “green light” Alex’s initiative. His caseload has grown from one student to three to eleven and now nineteen students for next year. As a result, it is time to recruit another Franklin Academy colleague to assist Alex with this important work that provides a much-needed “coaching” service for high school graduates making the transition to college.

I suspect that FACTS will continue to grow. Educational consultants have been keen to learn more about this program, and ASPEN (Autism Spectrum Education Network in New Jersey) has invited Alex Wood to present his research and observations conducted through the FACTS program at their spring workshop on April 15, 2018. His presentation is titled, “Outside The Classroom: Using Independent Living, Executive Functioning, Social, and Emotional Skills to Help Determine College Placement,” and it will provide attendees with practical resources to utilize as their child navigates the college transition. This same workshop will be offered to our own parents and grandparents during the upcoming Spring Seminars at Franklin Academy.

Alex reported that he “recently talked with Dawn DeSemone, Director of Transition Services at the Craig School in New Jersey. DeSemone’s program caters to students on the spectrum, mainly with ADHD, many of whom go on to college after finishing their program. She came across FACTS and FLI, and we spent about 30 minutes talking about the benefits about our program. She then invited me to attend an open house for post-secondary placements in which she estimates up to 120 students with learning disabilities will attend. I think this can be a great opportunity to market FLI and FACTS.”

If you are the parent of an underclassman, whether at Franklin Academy or another school, you might want to look at the attached brochure for more information about FACTS. It is not too early to beginning thinking about strategies for a successful transition to college, regardless of the school your son or daughter might select. As educators serving this population of students, we have learned through experience that a continuum of support is vitally important.