University advice needed (help please?)


macrumors 604
Original poster
Mar 17, 2004
Hey guys, just looking for some advice.

I'm 18 years old, with a two-year Associate of Arts degree from Spokane Falls Community College, including a number of Computer Science electives and Calculus 1-3. I'm currently attending Eastern Washington University for my four year's my third week there.

I also have Asperger's Syndrome and have been diagnosed with ADHD as well, though I suspect the earlier ADHD diagnosis might have been a misinterpreting of Asperger's symptoms.

Anyway, I spend >3 hours of travel time every day between university and home (on the bus). I'm taking four classes (Calculus-based Physics, Data Structures, Digital Circuits, and a 1-credit physics lab that goes with the Physics class)- basicly a full load plus a lab. I also have a part time job, but I only work once a week for a couple hours so it's not that big a deal and I can quit at any time (in fact, I will if I decide to stay with EWU).

However, the stress is really starting to get to me. The bus is not an environment I can do homework in (I've tried, can't concentrate at all, too many papers to shuffle on my lap). I get home at 5 PM exhausted from the travel time, then have to do homework immediately. If I get lucky I can get all my homework done in time to go to bed so I can get up in the morning and do it all over again, otherwise I usually end up staying up till around 11-12 working and have to put off the weekly assignments until the last minute. I get the weekends off but I get assigned enough homework that I'm stuck home all weekend- I haven't spent time with any friends since classes started, nothing but work.

And it doesn't help that I have attention problems, and can't keep focused in class (either end up fiddling with the computer in front of me or getting distracted by something on the wall, etc). I didn't have too much trouble in the past; I miss twenty seconds of what the instructor was saying, and I can still figure out his point by working backwards on what I see him doing (I am very good at problem-solving, it's an Asperger's thing), or worst case (usually in the case of Calculus), following in the book (most of my classes I NEVER read the book, and pass with 3-4.0's- I made President's Honor Roll when I graduated with my AA, GPA of 3.5). But at Uni, the teachers go INCREDIBLY fast (it doesn't help that two of my teachers are considered to be some of the worst by the students who are in their senior year I talked to), to the point that even the people that don't have attention problems can't keep up and I sometimes end up having to help them through it. Getting distrated for a minute can put me so far behind that I completely lose track of the whole lecture, and when I get home I don't have time to study the book. Calculus-based Physics is a cakewalk but my Data Structures teacher tries to explain things in the most difficult way possible.

The stress is really starting to get to me. I'm staying up late, losing sleep, having anxiety attacks, etc. And to tell the truth, I'm really burned out of school- I've overworked myself (one quarter I took 20 credits at the community college).


So, my options.

I'm starting to seriously consider dropping all my classes. It's only the third week and I'm already this stressed? I can not handle 2.5 (minimum) to three years of this. I don't want to take four or five years to finish my degree (that's what it'll take if I reduce my classload to maybe 10 credits, and I still won't be able to do any work more than a couple hours a week).

I can't move on campus- people will try to convince me, but I'm really not ready. I may be 18 but I still have Asperger's Syndrome and I know I'm not ready to move out yet. My parents are a huge source of support for me.

I've been looking at University of Phoenix's online courses. Is anyone familiar with them? It will take me two years to finish my degree there (as opposed to about three at Eastern), it eliminates my three hour bus travel time and gives me a flexible schedule, and it's done all online (I'm very used to reading articles and tutorials online, writing and submitting papers and articles for, and researching with the computer). And it's all accredited and recognized.

I guess it just seems too good to be true. Will an Information Technology or Business/Information Systems degree from UoP online be regarded just as good as a four year degree from a traditional land based university, or will it be a significant disadvantage? If the difference isn't huge and it will save me a year or more and TONS of stress, I'll do it.

Alternatively, I might just drop the classes, and move out to Cheney (where EWU is located) in a year or two, and take a year off and work, or maybe earn some certifications (I breezed through the A+ certification practice tests I found online). But I hate the idea of not having my degree for five years or more- I really want to be done with school.

And to be honest, I'm sick to my stomach thinking about dropping my classes. I hate not finishing what I start, but I'm under so much stress that I feel physically ill almost every day.

Or does anyone else have any suggestions? Please, any help is greatly appreciated. I need to make this decision very soon so reply as soon as you can, thanks guys :eek:


macrumors 68000
Dec 21, 2005
Sorry about your troubles.

Can you get an inexpensive car?

Also as far as UoP, people still really look down online degrees, especially from places that specialize in them. However, there are some reputable brick and mortar schools that now offer online components. Those degrees dont specify that you took online classes, and it will be the same as those who attended the campus. If I were you I look into that route.


macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2006
So Cal
Regarding your lectures, maybe you could contact your professors/TAs and tell them your condition. A lot of Universities have policies regarding disability/special needs (not sure if it is a "disability", sorry)so maybe they'll offer assistance outside the classroom. A lot of the professors at my school use powerpoint presentations for lecture and will post them online. So maybe your profs could set something like that? Dont be scared to contact professors & TAs, there people like you and I, and most are pretty nice.

Another thing you can do is study with others. I know you've only been there 3 weeks and making friends might be difficult (especially with your schedule) but it can make a difference. Study groups actually work pretty well because everyone brings their own lecture notes so they can fill you in on anything that you've might of missed.

I'm not so sure on the whole "online college" programs...I'm not talking down on it but I think there is more to college than a degree. Staying at the U will prolly give you more resources for a career (internships, alumni). I dont know, 2yrs for a Bachelor's degree seems too easy.

As for your condition, I've never met anyone with Asperger's so I can only hope this advice helps a little. But, you should find some time to relax. Theres only so much studying a person can do, beyond that its just mush. Dont stress too much, you're only 18.

Yeah, college can get pretty stressful but its alot like that first dive into a pool. After your first semester, college will become routine and it'll get better. I mean, I'm in my last year at a University, its week 3 already and I still havent bought any of my books:D Point is, just keep up the work but make sure you have some time to vent. I know its so tempting to drop classes but thats how a lot of first-years screw up. Dont fall into that cycle, you'll end up there longer. Good luck and hang in there!


macrumors 6502a
Mar 4, 2004
If you're buried now, wait until midterms or finals. You've got a few options, so keep an open mind and listen to the suggestions you're sure to receive.

My first thought is to reduce your courseload. This will ultimately cost you more and it will take longer, but it will allow you to maintain your sanity.

Second, consider doing your homework at school, and then come home.

Third, take the non-degree courses at a community college or part time during the summer.

You didn't mention if money is an issue, but you could try an alternative housing arrangement. Maybe an apartment or maybe you could work something out with campus friends where you can crash on a couch once or twice a week, and still live at home with your family.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2003
Yeah really sorry to hear about your problem, but my only advice could be just try moving out. It may seem quite daunting at the beginning, but just give it a try. After a few weeks/months see how you feeling, and then decide if you really want to quit, or move. If you do move out, you will always have the choice to move back home, I dont think that choice will exist if you decide to go to another uni, or whatever. You can never know something that you have never tried.
Hope you find a solution...


macrumors newbie
Apr 13, 2006
I am sorry to hear how stressed you are about all of this. Have you checked into a Disability Support Services office on your campus? I have worked at two different universities with offices such as these and they help students with learning disabilities to succeed in the classroom. I would also look into online courses offered by the university you are currently attending as opposed to going the route of University of Phoenix. As a previous poster mentioned these degrees are not held in as high of esteem for a multitude of reasons, but if you just took some courses from your current university online, no one would know the difference as these courses are generally not identified as online on your transcripts. As for the bus, can you find someone to commute with? Sometimes you can post requests like this at various places on campus and try to set something up like that.

I know that sometimes the courses are boring and professors hard to understand, but please do not give up. On every campus there are TONS of resources in place like math help centers, tutors, writing centers and so on. You have to find the ones that will help you succeed! Sorry for the go you speech, but I am a student affairs person at heart and I just to see everyone succeed in college…


macrumors 604
Original poster
Mar 17, 2004
I'm not so sure on the whole "online college" programs...I'm not talking down on it but I think there is more to college than a degree. Staying at the U will prolly give you more resources for a career (internships, alumni). I dont know, 2yrs for a Bachelor's degree seems too easy.
It's actually 4 years for a Bachelor's degree, but my two-year degree fits almost everything they have perfectly and should transfer to take out the first two years of the degree. They schedule the online courses to take two years- the classes are back to back, no breaks in between, and go through the summer too.

The lack of internship possibilities is something of note of course, but I'm thinking that this is a 30% time reduction (two years instead of three) and probably a 1000% stress reduction.

Not to mention that to make up for the fact that it's online, I could take some certification as well. I've taken the practice tests for A+ and I know most of the material already, and I completed half of CCNA but haven't had time to finish...maybe I'd do MCSE or something else too.

Or, alternatively, I can just move to Cheney in a year or two. I'm really concerned about burning myself out with the way I'm overworking myself now.

Have you checked into a Disability Support Services office on your campus?
I have. The accomodations allow me to turn in assignments late if it does not compromise the academic integrity of the assignment, and to use a laptop in all my classes for notetaking (as my bad coordination makes it difficult for me to write extensively) and request a notetaker if I wish.

But really, the late assignments thing just causes the late assignments to stack up, I try to never let them get late even if I can. And I have a hard time following other people's notes. I do take advantage of tutors whenever I have trouble though.

If you're buried now, wait until midterms or finals.

Can you get an inexpensive car?
I already have one, but the bus runs from literally a block from my house straight down to the campus and the school provides free bus passes.


I think I'm just taking too much of a load on myself, too early. One of the hardest things to do is realize your limits and I think I've reached mine at this point- I really feel I'm suffering from burn out. I just don't know if I should simply take a break, or go for the easier (in terms of travel time, scheduling and stress levels) route to a degree.

It doesn't help that I'm starting to question my choices. At the Community College I had a teacher, John Mill, who was unquestionably the best computer teacher I've ever had. His classes were the high point of the day. He involved every student and gave everyone nicknames, and had a unique style to the class. He had ways of explaining things that would make you laugh but also made you understand- for example, when we delete a variable or object it only deletes the pointer to it, but the actual object remains in memory. He calls them "orphans" because they are sitting on their own with nothing pointing to them. Then he referred to garbage collection as "killing the orphans" and always reminded us to kill our orphans. He also did stuff like teach the class dressed in a penguin suit on halloween.

But outside of his class, I don't enjoy coding. I like working with people (despite my bad social skills), and find developing programs, well, somewhat boring, and I'm starting to question if I'm going down the right degree path at EWU, since here I'm majoring in Computer Science, and I'm not sure if I'd enjoy being a developer.


Jan 18, 2005
Thats a little how I feel now. I studied at Tameside College for 2 years (Multimedia Diploma) then onto another 2 years on the extended version - the Foundation Degree in Multimedia (which also counts as 2 years at university because...) where I've just entered the 3rd level/year on a Bachelor of Arts course studying New Media Design, and frankly I'm not learning anything. College didn't teach me anything. Flash, DreamWeaver, Director, design concepts etc... I've been doing that since secondary school on my own. The Foundation Degree taught me very little, in reality it just introduced me to future clients :D .

In a totally catch 22 situation I'm thinking that I'm either going to continue to learn nothing new or that I won't be ready for the final year.

I could either drop out now and start my career in either games or advertising or just stick to this and see what happens.

For the past 5 years I've had to travel 3 hours every day on the bus Praxis ;) it's do-able for sure. and I've learnt to enjoy it, in a sadistic kind of way. Realised that when a mate offered me a lift to the university but I turned him down with some made up excuse. I just love sitting there, ideas rushing around my head, iPod on, crap a sweaty man sat next to me, no he just got off, hey that's a good track... :)


macrumors 604
Original poster
Mar 17, 2004
raggedjimmi said:
For the past 5 years I've had to travel 3 hours every day on the bus Praxis ;) it's do-able for sure. and I've learnt to enjoy it, in a sadistic kind of way. Realised that when a mate offered me a lift to the university but I turned him down with some made up excuse. I just love sitting there, ideas rushing around my head, iPod on, crap a sweaty man sat next to me, no he just got off, hey that's a good track... :)
I'm starting to enjoy it as well (I've got Weird Al music videos, my favorite video game soundtracks and a couple good movies on my iPod- it's nice to listen to some orchestrated soundtrack and just think), it's just very exhausting to spend your whole day running around and I get home wanting to lay down and find I have two projects due tomorrow.

In addition to the bus travel I have gaps between classes just big enough to bore me but just small enough to prevent me from getting any significant work done.


macrumors 603
Dec 20, 2002
sunny los angeles
holy cow you sound just like me :eek:

the only suggestion i have for ya is to drop a class or two :( i was trying to take way more classes than I thought I could handle last semester, and you will not believe how much of a relief it was to drop even one class.

that being said, sometimes I just get really bored in class and fall asleep/play games/whatever on my Macbook. in that case, it really helps if you ask the prof if it's okay to record lectures, or to find another person with a laptop/computer in the class who you can take notes with (with, for example, subethaedit on macosx). i did that for my last spanish class, and it helped a lot listening to spoken spanish more than reading the textbook (which i only ended up opening to do homework assignments).
and there are those profs that post lecture notes/presentations and study guides and whatnot, so you might want to look into that.

i find i learn a lot of stuff when it's more visual/auditory than reading a really dull book (which is 90% of textbooks), so I also enjoy grabbing computer-based/video/audio learning material and ebooks (for everything from chem and some random book for english to ruby on rails), so maybe you might wanna look into that. video iPods work great for all of that (not really, my pda can handle more formats than the iPod, but hey, plug for apple, unless you wanna get/you already have a laptop :p )

and many certifications aren't worth it, really...I've spent part of my spare time during break studying for ccna, but haven't gotten around to doing anything much.

whatever you do though, good luck :)