Frequently Asked Questions

What is a typical day like for participants in the Foundations Program?
Who is the coordinator for the Foundation Program?
What is the admission process for the Foundation Program?
When does the Foundations Program start?
What will my room assignment be during the Foundations Program?
What will be my meal plan during the Foundations Program?
What are the fees for the Foundations Program and what do the fees include?
Once the Program begins, must I remain on campus during the weekends?
Do I get grades during the Foundations Program?
Will there be Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) for behavioral, social, or mental health issues during the Foundations Program?
Does your staff administer and monitor medication?
What forms are required for Admission to the Foundations Program?


1. What is a typical day like for participants in the Foundations Program?


It is our goal that our Foundation students will acquire skills that will assist with the transition from high school to college. They will learn and experience the differences that exist between living at home and living in a residence hall. They will adapt to noises in the residence halls and learn how to co-exist with a roommate. They will wake up independently, attend class on time, regulate their sleep schedules, do laundry, attend to personal hygiene and grooming, manage money and negotiate problems with other students and/or staff. They will learn appropriate study skills needed for college level work and develop time management skills.

Students are scheduled to take a core academic class that fills a requirement at Mercyhurst and is transferable to most other colleges. This class will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. each day. In addition to the 3-credit course, there will be seminars scheduled that will introduce the students to support services on campus including the following offices: Learning Differences, Campus Ministry, Counseling Center, Student Government, and the Registrar.

Students will be exposed to College Life Skills Tutorials facilitated by a licensed psychologist. Program participants will be paired with peer mentors who will help to reinforce and extend our social skills curriculum. These students are candidates for an undergraduate degree in psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis. To learn more about Mercyhurst's innovative ABA program, click here.

Study Skills Seminars will be taught by the Foundations Program staff. In the evenings, students will participate in mandatory study sessions that will be monitored by our staff and peer mentors. Students' course work for the classes will include course readings, studying for tests, preparing projects/ homework, etc. Students will have access to a tutor for academic support, if needed. Because of the structure of the program, the academic rigor of the college course, and because program participants will be under the age of 18,  an evening curfew will be enforced.


2. Who is the Coordinator of the Foundations Program?


The Foundations Program is directed by Brad McGarry, Director for the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) Program. He has also has been an adjunct faculty member in the Psychology Department at Mercyhurst University since 2004. Brad received his Master's in 1999 in Community Counseling from Indiana University of PA (IUP) and completed a Master's Certificate in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in 2012.

In this position Brad participates on numerous committees and recently testified on Autism before the 112th United States Congress to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The AIM Program have been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education and featured as a model program at Pennsylvania’s Inaugural Conference on Post-Secondary Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  The AIM Program has also been ranked 3rd in the nation for Impressive Special College Programs for Students with Autism.

Brad also assisted in developing and was director of an intensive day treatment program for children diagnosed with ADHD and other disruptive behavior disorders.  He has been an outpatient therapist and has training in other innovative, researched based models of therapy.  Brad received recognition in 2008 for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Northwest Pennsylvania Division for his involvement as a trainer in the Parents As Teachers Initiative, which they nominated as Program of the Year.

Brad is married with five boys and presents and advocated for his oldest son, Connor, who is living with Angelman Syndrome and another rare genetic disorder.


3. What is the admission process for the Foundations Program?


Admission packets will be available on our website. All completed applications must be returned to Mercyhurst University no later than March 1, 2014, for priority consideration. In order to be considered for the Foundations Program, the student must have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and meet the academic standards required for admission to Mercyhurst University. An appropriate referral to the Foundations Program would be a student who has the academic abilities necessary for success in college, but requires growth in social and organizational skills. Our program gives qualified students an opportunity to get a preview of college prior to enrollment.

Successful participants in previous years earned a minimum of 1000 on the SAT combined Verbal and Mathematics scores and/or ACT Composite score of 23, or a score of 100 on the PSAT. The minimal high school GPA was 3.0, and based upon a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.

Foundations Program applicants will meet with the Foundations staff for an interview and additionally will supply letters of recommendations indicating readiness for this experience. These interviews will be scheduled prior to April 1, 2014.


4. When does the Foundations Program start?


Check-in for the program begins on Saturday, July 12, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon in the Learning Differences Office, 314 Old Main. The students and families are then invited to lunch in the Laker Inn. Families may continue moving into student housing during the afternoon and at 4:00 p.m. the students and staff will go to Presque Isle State Park for a picnic. Classes begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday, July 14, and conclude during the afternoon of Friday, August 1, 2014. Closing Ceremony for the Program is Saturday morning, August 2, 2014. A full schedule will be in included with your move-in packet.


5. What will my room assignment be during the Foundations Program?


We anticipate that all students will reside in Warde Hall, our newest residence hall on campus. Students will have a roommate from the program. All rooms are double occupancy with private bathrooms.


6. What will be my meal plan during the Foundations Program?


Three meals a day will be served in Mercyhurst Egan Dining Hall. Typically, breakfast is served from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and dinner from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. This schedule is subject to change. We make every effort to accommodate dietary needs of our program students. Gluten-free products are available upon request.


7. What are the fees for the Foundations Program and what do the fees include?


The cost of the 24-day Foundations Program has yet to be determined, but will include costs for tuition, room and board and activity fees, including the $200 application fee. The non-refundable application deposit will need to be included with the student’s application and is required to confirm placement in the program, an interview and campus tour. When the student is accepted into the Foundations Program, this $200 fee will be applied to tuition. Remaining portion of the cost has yet to be determined:
  • April:
  • May: balance of fees

Total cost yet to be determined.

There will be no refunds after June 1, 2014, for fees paid to the University.

A Letter of Understanding has been articulated between the Foundations Program and Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to contact their local OVR to determine their eligibility for funding for this program. Please check into your local autism organizations for other funding sources that may be willing to help sponsor student participation in the Foundations Program.


8. Once the program begins, must I remain on campus during the weekends?


We strongly recommend that students remain on campus for the weekday and weekend activities that have been planned by the Resident Life staff. Certain College Life Skills Tutorials will be taught on the weekends. In the past our students have become a support group for each other because of the time they have spent getting to know each other, especially during the more informal weekend program. If, however, a student must leave campus, parental notification must be submitted in advance.


9. Do I get grades during the Foundations Program?


Yes, this class is a core class taught by an experienced faculty member of the university. A copy of the student’s final grade will be sent to the family at the completion of the course. Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to contact representatives from their local school districts to determine if a local school district will accept Foundations Program credits for purposes of Dual Enrollment. A link to Pennsylvania Department of Education website that discusses this program can be found here. Should you choose to transfer this credit to another college, we will provide you with the information you need to request an official transcript.


10. Will there be Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) for behavioral, social or mental health issues during the Foundations Program?


The Foundations Program is geared toward preparing college-bound young adults to be successful and independent and to be able to advocate for themselves in the “real world,” which is reflected in all aspects of college life. With this in mind, it is our belief that the level of service provided by TSS or similar 1:1 supports should have already been faded out, and the skills transferred to the student or others by this time. Individuals who still require this level of service are not appropriate candidates for the Foundations Program.


11. Does your staff administer and monitor medication?


The Foundations Program is designed to prepare the student for college. Medication management for some of our students is one of the most significant life lessons that must be learned. One of our first modules will deal with managing medication. We recommend that you have your pharmacist place the medication in dated blister pack form to assist students in learning to manage medication. While we wish to know the dosage and types of medications the student is prescribed, it will be the student’s responsibility to self-administer medications. All medication must be stored in a locked container. Mercyhurst University or the Foundations Program is not responsible for misplaced medication and parents will need to replace such items at their own expense. Parents are responsible for any prescriptions charged and filled by local pharmacies. There is a CVS pharmacy within walking distance of the college. A medical insurance card must be sent with your completed medical forms.


12. What forms are required for Admission to the Foundations Program?

  •   Application for the Foundations Program
  •   Foundations Recommendation Form
  •   KaleidAScope Assessment Survey
  •   Mercyhurst Student Health Record
  •   Summer Course Registration Form
  •   504 Plan and/or Individual Educational Plan (IEP)
  •   High School Transcript
Refer to APPLICATION PACKET tab on this page for a more detailed description.

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