The question of whether or not to disclose attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one that frequently comes up for students with ADHD during the college planning and application process. For these students the underlying concern is often -- will disclosure hurt my chances of getting in?
The decision to disclose can be a very individual one.
There are legal protections in place that prohibit colleges and universities from discriminating against a qualified applicant and denying admission because of a disability, including ADHD.
The Importance of Supports in College
The transition to college life and college level academics can be a challenging one for a teenager with ADHD. In college, students face increased demands, responsibilities, and distractions -- all without the built in support system of home. Understanding the way ADHD affects you academically, socially, and emotionally and getting supports in place early on can be critical to success.
Symptoms of ADHD can affect a person in varying ways and the levels of support needed in college will vary from person to person. Having insight into your ADHD and seeking the necessary resources you need to be successful in college is strength and demonstrates a high level of self-awareness and maturity.
The benefits of disclosing your ADHD early on in the application process can include orientation accommodations such as extended time on placement examinations, support in the registration process, and access to the school's academic support services.
If you chose to disclose, it is often helpful to write about your experiences with ADHD in your college essay giving a clear picture of the ways you have dealt with areas of weakness, as well as sharing about your strengths and interests. Set up interviews with the admissions officers at your top choice colleges, so that you can connect personally and explain more about your past performances -- especially if you need to provide context into an uneven academic profile.
Read additional tips on the college planning and application process for students with ADHD.
The most important issue is finding a college that meets your individual needs. When you can correctly assess your abilities and the level of supports you need to manage impairments and match those needs with an appropriate college setting, your chances for success increase exponentially!
- Researching the Effects of ADHD on College Students
- Tips for College Students With ADHD
- Exam Study Tips
Patricia Quinn, M.D., ADD and the College Student: A Guide for High School and College Students With Attention Deficit Disorder. Magination Press, Washington, D.C. 2001.
Mary McDonald Richard, "Pathways to Success for the College Student With ADD Accommodations and Preferred Practices" Journal on Postsecondary Education and Disability, Volume 11, #2 & 3, Spring/Fall 1995.