• Tips for College Students with ADHD

    An article by K. Low (2021) discusses why success in college can be challenging for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and how they can navigate the challenges. College students with ADHD may struggle with staying organized, sticking to a plan, managing time effectively, and regulating/managing their emotions. And yet, many people with ADHD overcome these hurdles and succeed in college. Low offers7 tips for students with ADHD to proactively deal with the hurdles, which are summed up below.     

    Start the day on time.

    • The night before, pack food you need for the next day. Pick out clothing. Take a shower. Organize what you need for the next day. Create a “launchpad” by your exit door, where you place all of the things you’ll need in the morning. Set more than one alarm to get out of bed the next morning.
    • Figure out how much time you need to dress, eat, get organized, get out the door. and to where you need to be next. You can then set reminders to cue you to complete each task within that time. 
    • Avoid activities that tend to derail your efforts to be on time, like checking social media, playing video games or experimenting with new hairstyles or makeup.

    Being on time throughout the day may be a problem for you.  You can adapt the above suggestions for activities occurring anytime of the day or night.

    Work with your urge to procrastinate. 

    Plan to procrastinate, if that is your style. But be sure to “stack the deck” so you can pull it off. Rather than waiting to do everything the last minute, you can break projects into chunks (for a writing assignment for example, tasks might include research, outlining, writing and proofing). Some of the chunks can be done in advance. Schedule in enough time during your final push to fully tie up the loose strings. 

    Study smartly. 

    Establish habits that help you study and remember what you studied (e.g., highlight text with different-colored pens, record notes as voice memos, use mnemonics to remember facts, work with a study buddy, take study breaks and get enough sleep).

    Actively plan your time.

    Develop a plan for the week (e.g., on Sunday night) and for the weekend (e.g., on Friday). Then do a daily review of that plan—adding details as necessary. Assess what you need to do versus all that you could do, so you can prioritize activities. As far as scheduling study time, one rule of thumb for college is two to two and a half hours of study time per week for every unit of course credit.

    Stick to your plan.

    Consider what might help you stick to your plan. For example, using rewards might work (e.g., plan to get a coffee after reading for a pre-determined amount of time). Maybe planning to study with classmates will help make sure you study and stay focused. (You have to know yourself here … studying with friends might just be a distraction for you.) Perhaps refrain from checking social media or contacting friends or family until you finish up with your work for the night.  

    Manage your medication.

    Find a doctor to monitor your ADHD medications regularly. Find a pharmacy to order/pick up your medication. Set refill reminders on your phone. Keep your medications in a location and don’t share. Remember to take your medications–consider using reminders apps.

    Note: How useful these or similar tips are to students with ADHD depends to some extent on their awareness of how their symptoms influence their functioning, and their motivation and willingness to identify and practice strategies that help them build the necessity skills to support their success at school. 

    P.S. Don’t forget to check out your school’s disability services offices to help you arrange accommodations, brainstorm strategies to help you and access resources. For example, Strategies/Techniques for ADHD | Disability Resources & Educational Services – University of Illinois. Staff can usually help you connect with other offices/services on campus that might help you succeed, such as ones that help build time management and study skills, as well as counseling to deal with related stress and anxiety.

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