ADHD College

ADHD Students can succeed in college

This suggestions may be helpful to many students, but perhaps that’s because most of us experience difficulty concentrating some of the time, we get distracted some of the time, and we get tired sitting still.

Seven Strategies for more effective learning

1. Your first week of college is NOT a good time to stop taking your medications. If you really want to get off of them, wait three or four weeks until you are off to a good start in all your classes. Then, if your doctor agrees, you might reduce the dose just a little at a time. You should also be careful to refill your medications in plenty of time. You do NOT want to run out. In high school, your parents took responsibility to be sure you had meds available.

In high school, you also had your parents and school nurse to make sure you took your meds at the right time. In college, this is your responsibility. Unlike high school, you don’t always have lunch at the same time… unless you create your schedule that way. Write MEDS on your weekly schedule every day of the week. If you use a daily “To Do” list, write it on the list every day and check it off when you take your pill. This means you need to carry your pills with you.

You took meds in high school so you could focus on your work and not be distracted. College requires even better study skills. Be careful to take your meds regularly and at the same time.

2. Talk to each of your professors as soon as possible. Explain your problem and how you are dealing with it. If, like Arthur, you occasionally need to get up and walk back and forth, you’d want to get permission first. Hopefully this would not happen in large lectures. Do you get easily distracted during tests? If so, you might ask to sit off to one side, away from the window or the hallway. Don’t be shy. Explain to your professors how they can be most helpful.

You might also contact the office of special services – or whatever it’s called in your school. Give them copies of your diagnosis, explain what you plan to so and ask if they have other suggestions or services.  Do NOT decide you’d rather go without help. If their help allows you to learn more and make better grades, then use their help. That’s what they are paid for. If, after you have adjust to college and are doing well, you might use their help in only a few classes, slowing working toward working on your own.

3. Schedule your classes for the times of the day when you will have the least problems. Try not to schedule two classes, one right after the other. Use the time between classes to take a short break, study for 15-20 minutes, and exercise before the next class.

4. Try to include at least one class every semester that is something you are very strongly interested in, something you can really get excited about. Then, go beyond what’s required. List your questions. Do research to find the answers. Develop a strong relationship with the professor. Let him or her know how excited you are about the class. What you really want is to get so involved with this subject that you are able to Hyper Focus. Having great success in at least one class will raise your confidence and your grade point average.

5. Try to get 10-20 minutes of exercise before each class, especially before those classes where you are likely to have problems concentrating. Time spent in “Nature” is also helpful. So while you exercise or while walking to class, focus on the trees, the bushes and flowers, and on the sky and clouds. You might also find ways to study while exercising. You might be able to download something you need to read and listen as you run or walk. You could tape lectures and listen to these as you exercise. You might actually read while on a treadmill.

6. Plan your study time in short chunks. You will soon discover just how long you can study effectively, You might try just 15-20 minutes and take a break. Take a walk outside in the fresh air. Then you might try another 15 minutes.  You will learn more, understand it better and remember it longer in two 15 minute periods when you can concentrate than in an hour all at once.

7. To organize and study the material you have read, you might find it helpful to create large, brightly colored, and perhaps illustrated charts.

Try concept maps, compare and contrast charts, a matrix, or even a timeline. Copy diagrams from your text too. Creating a chart is active. You are using your muscles as well as your brain.

Then, review by attempting to recreate these visuals without looking at the original. Make corrections as needed. Sometimes you’ll even want to revise the original. This will help you focus on the main ideas and related details.

To study literature classes, try acting out the stories. You get to take all the roles, putting the conversation in your own words. In a history class, you might act out a conversation between two or more historical characters. In science classes, you might discuss something with a famous scientist. Tell Albert Einstein how his theories have affected the study of physics or what new discoveries have been made since his time.

For a math class, I’d suggest getting a study partner and doing your homework together. Actually, you should each do your best to solve each problem individually and then compare answers. But when one of you gets stuck, the other can certainly help out. Working together will keep your mind from wandering and you should be able to concentrate longer.

All students needs to schedule their time and be very intentional in following a schedule and getting all the work done. Students with Learning Differences need to be especially intentional.

You cannot afford to skip classes or let your mind wander during a lecture. You cannot afford to go several days without studying. It is much harder to do the next days study and also make up work you missed. Remember that you made it this far with hard work. You can continue to work hard and succeed in college.

You might want to read ADHD Strategies

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If you have other suggestions, perhaps strategies that have been helpful to you, please let me know. To leave suggestions, ask questions or leave comments you can use the section at the bottom of the page.

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