Dropping Out of College and ADHD

Have you ever been so far behind you considered dropping out? If you have ADHD, you aren’t alone.  Students who have ADHD are much less likely to finish college than their peers. A big reason is college is a time where many students are on their own for the first time. You set your schedule. You pick your classes. You decide when to study. No one is keeping track of whether or not you come to class. It’s a time where you need solid skills in time management, organization and self discipline.

Unfortunately, if you have fallen too far behind in your school work, you may not be able to avoid dropping out, but there are some important steps you can take right now to help get you through this difficult time.

Start by Getting Help

It’s natural to be embarrassed or ashamed that you are having trouble with classwork. But not reaching out for support is foolish.

It may seem that the adults you know can handle everything on their own. The truth is that everyone gets help in some area of life. Consider cancer. You wouldn’t try to fix it yourself, would you? That sounds completely ridiculous. Trying to bail yourself out of an academic hole without getting support is just as foolish.  Sure your parents are going to be disappointed, but they will be far more upset if you don’t tell them.

If you aren’t ready to talk to your parents, start by finding a safe adult ally to help you. This can be your dorm adviser, a guidance counselor, an athletic coach, a neighbor, aunt or other adult friend.  Share your story honestly. You’ll  probably find you already know someone else who has experienced the same situation.

Take time to think

Are you one of those people who went off to college  because that’s just what was expected? Surprise. College isn’t for everyone. Are you having trouble sticking to your studies because you aren’t into your major? Speaking to a guidance counselor and taking some aptitude tests can help you identify a focus you can get behind. If you hate chemistry, but you know you have to take it to become a vet, keeping your goal in mind can help you stay focused on a difficult task. But without a purpose or plan, it can be difficult to keep engaged with school and fall behind.

Take care of yourself

Don’t bury your head in the sand. Stressful periods like this one are the times you most need to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise regularly.

Take time to properly exit from your classes. Talk to your professors (in person is best) and ask them for a incomplete or a no credit. If you take an incomplete, you’ll be able to finish the class – if and only if you make a plan to finish the work.

Change your point of view

Instead of looking at your situation as “all or nothing,” consider taking a semester off instead of dropping out.

Sign up for an Edge Coach

An ADHD coach can’t change the situation you’re in right now. But she can help you avoid ending up in an emergency situation like this one in the first place.

A coach works with you over time to develop better planning and self-management skills; skills that will help you manage your life so you’re on top of your work and not overwhelmed and behind all the time. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Learn About Edge Executive Function Coaching


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2 Responses

  1. Susie

    Do you think during the admission stage they are doing enough to identify the college student with ADHD? Are there programs in place to help the student with ADHD, what about the student. Who has never been diagnosised with it? Why other things can be effective?

    • Peggy Dolane

      Great question. We’ll post it to our facebook community and see what people think.