Tips for College Students with ADHD

It’s back-to-school time, as the fall semester has begun. College students are gearing up for the return of late-night cram sessions, the countless hours spent studying, and the inevitable anxiety that goes along with acing exams. Distractions come up, like parties or concerts, and social influences may not exactly support a productive lifestyle throughout the first few weeks of school. For students with learning disabilities or mental health concerns, like ADHD, the start of the fall semester can be even more difficult to navigate. College students with ADHD should consider these suggestions as they adapt to a new routine for a successful school year.

Seek campus resources

College students with ADHD should figure out what supportive services or resources their school has to offer. Almost all colleges and universities accommodate students with learning disabilities at a campus based disability resource center or a student services office. Additional mental health counseling and campus health insurance may be available as well. It is important for college students with ADHD to establish a relationship with campus resource centers at the start of the fall semester, so that they can learn about and utilize any assistance before things possibly go wrong. Unlike in high school, where a counselor will work to make special arrangements for test taking or managing assignments, in college, students have to advocate for themselves.

Communicate your needs

College may be the first time that a student with ADHD has to introduce themselves and their learning disability to the teaching staff. Without receiving an IEP, which documents the educational constructs and goals for people with a learning disability, teaching staff does not know which students struggle with a learning disability. College students with ADHD should be upfront with their professors about the need for special accommodations. Open the lines of communication with a simple email or schedule an office visit at the beginning of the year. Students with ADHD should also feel comfortable sharing the difficulties they are experiencing throughout the semester, and continue seeking support from their educators. This could mean asking a teacher to help break down a long term project into shorter, achievable goals, or scheduling regular office visits to go over the notes from large group lectures.

Stick to a therapeutic treatment plan

Adapting to college life often means that everything changes. For example, college can include a new living situation, different social experiences, and fresh opportunities for personal growth. While all of this change may be good, making alterations to a regular therapeutic treatment plan is not a great idea. If you have felt positive effects from a treatment plan for ADHD, you should continue to adhere to the plan while you are in college. Stay consistent with any psychiatric medications you are prescribed. Connect with your counselor, and opt for additional experiential therapies like yoga or meditation.

Live in a supportive environment

If you are a college student with ADHD and living on campus, you may run into difficulties like managing your time, scheduling a routine, and adapting to the responsibilities it takes to live outside of your parent’s home. Services, like the Supported Apartment Life Skills at Yellowbrick, allow students with mental health concerns like ADHD to live independently, yet also receive in-home individualized guidance from professional providers. Having a home visitor can help a college student with ADHD execute a consistent study plan and figure out how to plan for a steady routine.

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