College students with ADD/ADHD: Making the transition
Dr. Lee Ann Grisolano | 10.09.13
Only about 22 percent of high school students diagnosed with ADD/ADHD will continue on to get a college education. The reason this number is so low is because most of these teens struggle with high school. College creates a more complicated social and academic environment.
The key to success for college students with ADD/ADHD is finding the right school and structuring daily routines.
Finding study halls, dealing with an increase in assignments, and even just the social independence that comes with college life all add to the stress. The key to success is finding the right school and structuring daily routines to accommodate the changes ahead for college students with ADD/ADHD.
Start at the Beginning
Acceptance into a proper school is part of the college challenge. A tip for greater success is letting the school know up front that the applicant has ADD/ADHD, especially if school transcripts highlight an increase in grades after intervention and treatment. This can be accomplished by including in the application an explanatory essay or add it as part of the letter to the school.
Some facilities are more ADD/ADHD friendly. Consider asking a counselor, therapist or healthcare professional for a list of schools with programs designed for the particular needs of college students with ADD/ADHD.
One of the most effective accommodations an ADD/ADHD friendly college might offer is a coach that helps the student manage his or her new academic lifestyle. If the school doesn’t have this program in place, consider suggesting it or looking for assistance from an outside source.
A coach will help the student make the best use of some key organizational tools and set up productive study habits based on his or her distinctive needs, such as:
A coach helps the student create productive study habits based on his or her distinctive needs.
- Daily planners
- Large calendar with deadlines
A coach will ensure the student understands how each of these tools fit into the study plan. This individual will also be an advocate to manage specific issues with the school and program administrator, such as requesting a need for additional time during exams or timers in a lab.
Getting around a large multi building campus is frustrating for college students with ADD/ADHD. There are a lot of distractions and ways to get lost. A coach can provide the student with the most productive route for each class.
Modulating Study Projects
The dropout rate for college students with ADD/ADHD is high because the tasks can be overwhelming. One of the most critical lessons to learn is perseverance. College comes with long-term projects and extensive academic writing. ADD/ADHD students have deficits in the part of the brain that controls executive functioning and will likely find this aspect of higher education difficult.
Proper planning can turn a teen with ADD/ADHD into a successful college student.
One way to build perseverance is to learn to modulate each project into workable sections. Dividing even a paper into smaller pieces creates a greater feeling of accomplishment and allows for timed intervals.
This process works for absorbing information from a lecture, too. Students can record the class and listen to it in bite-sized pieces to ensure they understand the information fully instead of getting frustrated trying to learn it all in one sitting.
The road to college should include a practical assessment of the student strengths and weaknesses. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of going to school and lose sight of the challenges facing college students with ADD/ADHD. Focus on areas of interest and put aside unreachable goals. A child who fails math but loves art should consider a creative career instead of a scientific one, for example.
Proper planning, some practical assistance and the right school can turn a teen with ADD/ADHD into a successful college student.
Dr. Lee Ann Grisolano
About Dr. Lee Ann Grisolano
Dr. Grisolano is a pediatric neuropsychologist who specializes in helping children and their families conquer problems with learning, attention, behavior and emotions. She is also a certified school psychologist who understands the many ways in which neurodevelopmental disorders can create challenges that are barriers to a child’s learning and development.
Dr. Grisolano has extensive clinical practice in school psychology, neuropsychological evaluation and behavioral assessment. She is an experienced college professor, published researcher and accomplished presenter.
Published in Expert Blog