JACKSONVILLE, FL- Going to college is a huge deal. Most kids are nervous to start, but for children with autism it can be an especially hard transition. What new students and parents may not know is that there is a free program at the University of North Florida that could help.

"Nobody really teaches you that when you come to college, it is more of a 'figure it out on your own'. So we had students that really struggled in those areas," tells Tara Rowe the Program Coordinator for Thrive.

Some students even dropped out, so Rowe helped develop a program called Thrive at the university.

"It is about helping us gain social skills, helping us gain career skills and balance our lives as students here at UNF," says Rowe.

Robert Rittenhouse is a Junior at UNF and member of Thrive.

"It has encouraged me to befriend people, not just in the Thrive program, but other people as well," he says.

Students in Thrive work on social interactions during week-day meet ups, life skill classes and career fairs. It doesn't cost a dime extra.

"We don't want to charge students anymore for working on the same skills that are needed, whether they are here or at home or in a workplace setting," says Rowe.

She says this is how it should be. Students should feel connected and at home at a university.

If you would like to be involved with Thrive or get your child involved, you can register through the Disability Resource Center, or click here to visit Thrive's website.