For Students > Support Programs > Disability Resource Center > For Students > Academics > Study tips for disabled students > For Students with ADD/ADHD

College Success for the Student with ADD/ADHD Symptoms  

  • Consequences of AD/HD at the college level include:
  • Procrastination
  • Poor organization and time management resulting in academic underachievement
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Difficulty keeping current with assignments and reading.
  • Problems also arise in personal relationships and mood stability.

Distractibility and difficulty focusing can lead to problems with reading comprehension, note-taking, and completing assignments and tests in a timely fashion. Impediments to success at the college level include issues that are both academic and/or personal.   

Academic issues may include:  

    • Poor organization and time management skills.
    • Reading problems resulting from difficulty concentrating and focusing
    • Poor note-taking or writing skills

Personal issues may include:

    • High frustration levels or poor self-esteem
    • Inappropriate social skills or too much time socializing
    • Confusion about goals and the future
    • Lack of perseverance or procrastination
    • Lack of sleep and difficulty getting up in the morning 

A common pitfall for students with AD/HD is the feeling that they are instantly cured upon graduating from high school and no longer require supports and/or treatment at the college level. Unrealistic expectations may also lead a student with AD/HD who has been successful in high school to take on too heavy a load at college, failing to take into consideration the multiple demands upon his or her time. Poor time management may lead to a "crash and burn syndrome," with the student staying up all night and sleeping all day after studying or partying or both. There are several ways that a student with AD/HD may address these issues. Some of the most effective include:

    • Seeking accommodations (such as note-takers, extended time for tests, and the use of the writing center)
    • Developing supportive strategies (e.g., practicing good self-care, getting enough rest and exercise, and learning ways to reduce stress)
    • Establishing supportive relationships (e.g., working with a coach or a peer study group)
    • Taking medication for AD/HD, and setting appropriate goals and priorities.

Success is assured when a team of professionals including a physician, counselor or coach is available to assist in addressing needs, setting goals and priorities, and developing a plan to carry them out. This process should lead to a new way of thinking and dealing with AD/HD symptoms with the student eventually taking responsibility for his or her medication and other daily life activities.  

Medication for AD/HD. Careful monitoring of medication is an integral part of any such program to achieve both personal and academic success. AD/HD is an omnipresent disorder, and the student will need to work with his or her physician to establish a treatment regime that reduces symptoms of AD/HD and optimizes functioning, while minimizing any side effects. Consult the sheet on medication for more details on this topic.

Use of a Coach. Having an individual to act as a "coach" for the student can be a very helpful intervention for college students.  Consult the fact sheet on coaching for more details about how it works.  Coaching is frequently done online or by phone so this individual may be a parent, sibling, relative, friend, or a professional coach. If a professional coach is preferred, students should determine whether professional coaching is available at their institution or whether they can get a referral to a professional coach within the community. If not, they can contact a coach that specializes in working with college students anywhere in the country.

Assisted Technology. Assisted technology refers to the use of any item of equipment or product that helps an individual cope with a disability. College students with AD/HD may find that assisted technology can be helpful in coping with the challenges imposed by AD/HD. Examples include voice-activated software, personal organizers, books on tape, and outlining computer programs.  

Conclusions: By addressing many of the negative aspects of AD/HD early on, a college student has a better chance to develop a plan of action with coping strategies that provide a greater opportunity for success. Students who have greater access to learning services and academic support to help manage AD/HD issues tend to experience lower levels of stress and frustration. Working with an AD/HD coach can play an integral role in helping to foster both academic and social success for students with AD/HD. When students are aware of and involved in addressing AD/HD issues, they are better able to deal with both the academic and social pressures of college. College is a time of extraordinary growth and an opportunity for increased self-awareness and positive feedback. It can also be a time of pressure, poor decision-making, and hopelessness. If the student with AD/HD is well prepared, receives support and encouragement, and continually makes choices in his or her best interest, there is a greater chance for a most positive outcome. All students deserve that chance.  

Created: March 05, 2009 @ 02:50 PM
Last Modified: April 28, 2014 @ 12:13 PM


  Copyright © 2001 - 2010     Mendocino College is not responsible for third party content.