A College Preparation One-on-One Mentoring Program for University Bound Adolescents and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum.  


What is the Horizons program?

Horizons is a college preparation one-on-one mentoring program designed to enhance success of those on the autism spectrum who plan to attend university. Participants will be paired with a UMass Lowell Psychology student who will be their mentor. Pairs will meet once a week for 6-weeks and discuss a range of issues relevant to university life and achieving academic success. Dr. Ashleigh Hillier (UMass Lowell Department of Psychology) oversees the mentors and ensures meetings are going well. Regular contact is maintained between Dr. Hillier and the participants in the program. Meetings for the next available program will start in October 2013. Meeting times are during the week (not weekends) in the late afternoon, typically 4.30-5.30pm (the specific day of the week will be arranged between the participant and their mentor). Meetings take place on UMass Lowell's south campus in the McGauvran student center.

Click here for the Horizons brochure.


What is the goal of the Horizon program?

To help prepare young adults with ASD for university life and academic success.


What will we do in the meetings?

You will cover a curriculum where you will discuss various topics with your mentor such as:

      Why go to university? Careers, future plans.

      Applying for college.

      Tour of UML campuses (including lecture halls, halls of residence (if possible), sports facilities, etc.).

      Choosing courses; on-line courses; selecting a major.

Ø      How to create a productive daily schedule.

      Time management; stress management.

      Attend a lecture.

      Social life at university (residence halls, clubs and societies, social opportunities, avoiding loneliness).

      Accessing support services at university (e.g. Disability Services Office, Academic support services, Counseling, Career Services, libraries etc.).



You will be matched with a UML Psychology student who will be your mentor. You will meet with your mentor once a week for an hour for 6-weeks. The program will next run in October 2013. Meeting times will be arranged between the participant and their mentor but are typically scheduled for late afternoon during the week. Meetings take place on UMass Lowell's south campus in the McGauvran student center.



There is a $50 to be in the Horizons program (scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee).


What else?

Mentors meet on a regular basis with Dr. Hillier to provide an update on progress in the mentor partnerships. At these meetings Dr. Hillier provides oversight, advice and intervention to the mentors.

Participants must provide proof of diagnosis to participate in Horizons (e.g. a recent neuropsychological report, letter from psychiatrist / psychologist etc.).


Contact Person?

For further information please contact:

Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D.

1 Mahoney Hall
870 Broadway Street
Lowell, MA  01854
Office: (978) 934-2930
Fax: (978) 934-3074

Email: ashleigh_hillier@uml.edu


Horizons: Volunteer Opportunities

Students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who are interested in getting involved in the Horizons program should contact Dr. Hillier at ashleigh_hillier@uml.edu. This can be done as a volunteer, or for course credit as Community Service(47.486).


Horizons: Student Quotes:

"I would be a mentor again because it was a really rewarding experience. I learned how to communicate, express, listen, and organize more effectively from this program." Undergraduate Psychology student.


"Hearing positive feedback from Joe and his mother made me feel like I was making a difference in his life. I am so happy that I was able to help him feel excited about college and that he is working harder now in school because of it. I think that participating in Horizons may have the potential to significantly impact the course of a persons life." Undergraduate Psychology student.


"In my 3 years attending this university, this fall semester has been, by far, the most educational experience. Having the opportunities to participate in these programs has a much more significant impact on my education than sitting in a classroom lecture." Undergraduate Psychology student.


Dr. Hillier's Home Page