Coping with ADHD in college can present unique challenges. But with adequate resources, you can overcome those challenges and have a rewarding experience.
College is an exciting time in a young person’s life. You’re on your own for the first time with endless possibilities and opportunities.
For those living with ADHD, tackling the challenges of college on top of managing their ADHD can seem overwhelming.
Whether you’re a new college student or an old pro, there are steps you can take to help make your college experience easier and less scary.
Keeping up with your mental health is essential for success at college.
Schedule and routinely meet with a mental health professional near or on campus to develop and reinforce healthy coping strategies. You can also discuss any barriers or obstacles that may be interfering with your ability to tackle assignments or get help dealing with the stress of being a college student.
Your current therapist may be able to refer you to someone in your new area. The college campus may also have a counseling center with licensed mental health professionals who can help you manage your ADHD. Or, they might be able to recommend a specialist who works near campus.
Creating healthy spending habits can reduce impulsive buying, a common habit of college students with ADHD.
Try to limit credit card spending. You can also ask your parents or someone you trust to help monitor and guide your spending. Autopay, online bank tools, and budgeting apps can help manage bills and budgets.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows for individuals who qualify to be eligible for specific accommodations, including extended time on tests and an assigned note-taker.
If your ADHD significantly limits your daily functioning, including your ability to learn and focus, you might qualify to receive these special accommodations.
Consider contacting your campus’ disability office for more information. If you’re about to be a freshman, it might be even more helpful to make an appointment during orientation.
The endless sporting events, social gatherings, clubs, and other on- and off-campus activities are all part of the college experience.
About 11% of freshman college students drop out because they were unable to maintain focus on academics during their newly found freedom and lack of supervision. ADHD can compound these issues, making it especially difficult to juggle it all.
If you have ADHD and you’re having trouble managing it all, try keeping your schoolwork and classes your main priorities.
Developing a routine can help manage forgetfulness, impulsivity, and lack of focus.
Try using a digital calendar, planner, and reminders to help organize your class schedules and assignments. Study tools and skills, like flashcards and intermittent breaks, can also help you successfully complete assignments.
If your dorm is noisy and you’re finding it difficult to keep your head down and stay focused, consider wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine to cancel out distractions.
Exercise has many benefits. Physical activity increases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain that impacts motor function, mood, and judgment.
Signing up for a running club, hitting the gym, or simply taking a walk around campus might help clear your mind and increase your ability to stay on track and manage stress.
Online classes are more flexible, and most don’t have a set structure or organization. If you have ADHD, this might make it more difficult to focus and stay on task.
In-person classes provide more structure and give you the opportunity for engagement and interaction that’s critical for building knowledge.
Excessive drinking has negative consequences for most people but especially for those with ADHD. Alcohol impairment can make ADHD symptoms worse.
Heavy drinking can also cause negative interactions with your ADHD medications, resulting in increased impaired judgments and behaviors.
Before drinking excessively, consider the risk factors and how it could affect your ability to perform academically.
Not enough sleep can cause problems, such as lack of energy and focus. Since these are common symptoms of ADHD, lack of sleep can only make them worse.
Good sleep habits can increase productivity, concentration, and performance. Without adequate sleep, simple tasks like being on time for class or completing an assignment by the deadline becomes more difficult.
Prioritizing sleep is one of your best bets for success.
Maintaining communication with family and friends at home can provide a good support system when navigating the unknown territory of college life.
Just as important is building a foundational network of peers, advisors, and even professors at school that can help you maintain a healthy academic-social life balance.
If you find yourself having issues with coursework because of your ADHD symptoms, most campuses provide additional resources to assist you.
Some of those include:
- study groups
- writing centers
If you need additional help, consider these excellent resources from ADDitude Magazine:
ADHD can present unique challenges for college students. But with the right tools and resources, you can manage symptoms and get the most out of college life.
Accessing assistance and developing healthy coping strategies are key factors to a successful transition from high schooler to college student.
College is supposed to be a fun and exciting time. So, enjoy it!