Heading to College with ADHD

The transition from high school to college can be difficult if you have ADHD. There are more distractions, more to manage in the daily routine in terms of classes and social life, a more challenging academic environment, and less day-to-day support from parents. These factors can combine to make college a struggle and academic success less certain.  Here are some simple things you can do to improve your odds of a successful start to college if you have ADHD.

Use tools to keep you on track – Get in the habit of setting up a schedule so you can block out times where you can focus on your school work and getting your assignments and projects done on time. You can keep this on a calendar along with your class schedule. There are many good apps that can make this easy and provide alerts to help you remember appointments, classes and deadlines.

Be mindful of your need for sleep – Many individuals with ADHD have difficulty getting good sleep. Without the right amount of sleep, it is even more difficult to pay attention and stay focused on your academic studies. Set up your schedule so that you can get the sleep you need. That may mean avoiding signing up for early classes, at least until you get fully grounded in your college routine.

Stay connected – Stay in touch with your parents via text, email or phone. College is an environment with lot of distractions that can be very disorienting. Talking with your parents about what you are experiencing can help you stay grounded. You may find that talking regularly with your parents provides a strong sense of support while you are adjusting to your new circumstances.

Take advantage of resources at the college or university – If you are struggling in your classes, seek help right away. Don’t wait until the end of the semester when it is too late. Contact the Learning Support Services group of your campus, or talk to your professors. Many schools now have additional support services for students with ADHD. You can use the resources to avoid a crisis.

Avoid putting yourself in temptation’s path – College life comes with plenty of distractions that can interfere with your studies. While everyone needs to have some social life, aim for moderation. Especially when it comes to alcohol. The negative effects of alcohol can be especially hard if you have ADHD. It might be better to keep yourself away from situations where the temptation might be too strong – e.g., joining a fraternity or sorority with where drinking is a big part of the culture.

Stick with your prescribed medications – If medications are part of your ADHD treatment plan, stick to the schedule and dosing that have been prescribed. Skipping or misusing your medications will only work against you and disrupt your sleeping patterns.

College can be an exciting time and is the starting point for your move into a career path. Being aware of how ADHD can affect your ability to function successfully in the academic environment and proactively planning for how to handle it is the first step to achieving your goals and getting the most from your college experience.

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