If you or your child has ADHD and is starting to think about finding a college to attend, you’ve probably been Googling “ADHD friendly colleges” and “ADHD college programs” hoping to find the perfect program for your needs. You already know a host of factors such as cost, size and location are important ways that all potential applicants judge a school. This post outlines five of the factors you can use to help you evaluate if your potential schools will be a good fit for ADHD.
1. Research the disability program at the school thoroughly
It is important to know what percentage of students with disabilities attend the school and how active and approachable the disability office is.
a. Ask about counseling, mentoring and advocacy programs.
b. Find out what services the office provides in general before seeking your own specific accommodations. For example, many colleges have programs where note takers or written outlines are available through the disability office.
2. What types of counseling and support groups are available on campus?
This might be important to supplement the care providers that you are currently dealing with at home. In many cases, on campus counseling can act as a liaison between your mental health care provider and the disability office or administration.
3. Research curriculum flexibility
Many schools offer students a choice of papers versus exams or some type of hybrid. This is important if you have a specific strength or weakness in one form of evaluation or another. Additionally, you should research the flexibility of spreading course requirements over longer periods of time to reduce stress and maximize your grade point average.
4. Research the importance of your ADHD documentation
Find out how the school will acknowledge and rely upon your previous Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan in understanding your special needs.
a. Have a working knowledge of your diagnosis and your particular needs and have a game plan going in.
b. Make sure you continue to have access to your academic and disciplinary records. (see What you need to know about ADHD and your legal rights when you turn 18 for a detailed discussion of how your rights change once you become 18).
Update: As pointed out in the comments, documentation at the college level often means a psychoeducational evaluation or information from a physician detailing the specific academic impact of the ADHD. Be sure to research the documentation requirements of the colleges you are considering. Your high school can be a resource to help you obtain an updated psychoeducational evaluation.
5. Don’t make the transition alone
Find a coach that is specially trained to understand the specific manifestations of your ADHD and help you learn to advocate for yourself and to maximize your strengths and navigate around your weaknesses. Edge Foundation specializes in matching high school and college students with specially trained coaches who provide support, structure and accountability to bridge the difficult transition to college that is particularly difficult for those with ADHD.