Transitions, at any level, can be both exciting and daunting. We take the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for the next steps, but the future will always remain unknown. 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 each year, we transition students from full-time support to a more independent lifestyle. We help them work together 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 - Meetup
When students transition out of CIP, they are leaving an environment with structured social activities and consistently reinforced social skills. In order to find and maintain social relationships, they will need to utilize the skills they practiced throughout their time in the program, and initiate interactions that may be uncomfortable at times. 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!
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 in geographical areas that may not boast a substantial public transit system, other options to explore include Uber and Lyft car services, as well as putting that old bicycle to use! A particularly useful app to consider is called Moovit. This app provides real-time travel planning, and provides the rider with alerts when their stop is coming up. It is easy to become distracted on the bus and realize that you have stayed on a few stops too long -- with the Moovit app, you can receive a vibrate or tone alert on your phone to bring your attention back to your route.
Finances - Mint, YNAB, GoodBudget, MyMoney, IRS
Online resources and mobile apps allow you to track your income and expenses, set short and long term savings goals, and monitor spending trends using visual aids. Becoming financially independent doesn't stop with learning how to effectively manage a budget, unfortunately! To learn more about banking, budgeting, taxes, understanding your paycheck, investing, etc., a few good places to start would be MyMoney.gov and IRS.gov. These sites walk you through a series of "modules", including pre- and post-tests, to help you gain a better understanding of your money.
Keeping a Schedule/Routine - 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. We encourage exploration of a variety of scheduling and calendar options in order to find what best fits the need of the individual. Google Calendar also has a very useful to-do list function to help keep you organized and meeting your goals! Transitioning students are encouraged to utilize a scheduling tool to help manage both their day-to-day commitments, as well as any appointments or social activities that arise.
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 in order to learn your preferences (ApartmentFinder, HotPads, RadPads, area property management sites, etc.), and practice taking as many apartment tours as possible well in advance of transition. This search may also include browsing trusted sites, such as Roomster, and setting up roommate interviews to determine compatibility. In addition to searching for appropriate housing options, taking the time to explore the area neighborhoods can help ease the anxiety of living in a new location, locating local services, and maintaining safety when out and about.
Chipping away at the "unknown" of a transition can make all the difference in confidence and success for students taking that next step. 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, M.Ed. 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!