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College and ADHD


Updated April 30, 2009

Question: College and ADHD
I am a freshman in college and am beginning to have a hard time keeping up in my classes. I was allowed some accommodations to help with my ADHD in high school. Are any ADHD accommodations available to me in college?

Making the transition from high school to college can sometimes be difficult for those with ADHD. Less structured time, more distractions, greater responsibilities, new social situations and lack of ever-present support systems, such as familiar teachers, friends and family, may present challenges when away in college.

In elementary, middle and high school, the school system is required to identify students in need and provide appropriate educational services and accommodations. In college, however, it is up to the individual student to make his or her needs known and to ask for help. You must be an advocate for yourself.

The first step in getting resources in place is to contact your school’s Office of Disability Support Services, the service center that provides support, advocates and coordinates learning accommodations on campus to meet the needs of students with a variety of disabilities, including ADHD. To receive services, you will need to complete the registration/application process and provide documentation and paperwork to show that you have been diagnosed with ADHD and that the ADHD affects your functioning in the learning environment.

Below is a listing of some of the accommodations and learning support services you may be eligible for in college:

ADHD Accommodations and Support

  • Priority registration
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Extended time on tests
  • Testing over several sessions
  • Permission to take tests in a quiet, nondistracting environment
  • Academic tutoring
  • Note-taking services
  • Audio-taped textbooks
  • Reading services
  • Instructions from professor to be given in writing
  • Course substitutions
  • Reduced course load

Be sure to communicate with your professors and work together with them to come up with helpful solutions for learning the material. Class sizes can get to be so large in college that it isn’t possible for professors to know all their students — making it easy for ADHD students to get lost in the shuffle. Take the initiative to seek help and show interest in your classes. Don't get lost in the shuffle, instead get to know your professors so they can help you reach your full academic potential in college.

A few great books for ADD/ADHD college students are:
Making the Grade with ADD by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis
College Confidence with ADD by Michael Sandler
A College Survival Guide for Students with ADD or LD by Kathleen G. Nadeau

Additional Reading:
ADHD Coaching for Students
Take Control of Your ADHD
Optimal Treatment of ADHD
ADHD and Exercise
Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
The Importance of Sleep
ADHD and Self Care

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