Entering college is a whole new world from high school. University life means you have full control over all aspects of your life. In high school, you were still considered a minor, and the expectations differed from college life and expectations. The transition can be overwhelming to anyone, but if you have ADHD, the struggle to transition might be greater.
But it is doable.
We have some tips to help you manage life as a college student with ADHD.
1. Organizing your time creates a smooth transition and gives you control over your schedule.
- Create daily routines and schedules including everyday needs: sleep, study, exercise, nutrition, and fun
- Use some daily planner (large wall calendar, phone calendar, planner, app, or an online calendar).
- There are many options to help you organize and schedule your days!
- Plan early in the course for any long-term projects by breaking up a large assignment over your semester.
- For example, if you have a 20-page paper due at the end of your semester, you can break it down into chunks: research, outline, rough draft, edits, draft one, edits, final draft. Break down your chunks into weekly assignments like two hours of research, three pages of writing.
- Use your phone or electronic device to create reminders. Seeing a reminder pop up on a smartphone helps keep us on task.
- Recognize you might need to take half or three-quarter load versus a full-time load. There is nothing wrong with that. Taking the courses at your pace maximizes your learning, and that is what further education is all about!
2. How to deal with the noise around you.
If you have ADHD you either may not be able to block out background noise or too much silence can be too much and create aural overstimulation. Use white noise to drown out the background noise or fill in the silence.
There are many apps available (most of them are free!) providing you with the white noise you need to focus. Pop in the headphones to your smartphone and study away!
If you struggle to sleep with excess background noise, consider purchasing a white noise machine or a box fan. However, if you have a roommate in a single dorm room, be sure to check with them before plugging in a fan or machine.
3. Seek out the resources available at your university.
- Learn time management from an elective course or academic counselor. It can serve you long past your college years.
- Meet with someone from your school’s Office of Student Disability Services (OSDS). They can help accommodate certain needs you have.
- Take advantage of free services like the writing centers and tutoring services your campus might offer.
4. Manage your classroom experience.
- Sit at the front of all your classes. Don’t allow yourself unnecessary distractions.
- Use your smartphone and download a recording app to record all of your lectures. Alternatively, buy a small recorder through Amazon.
- Use your laptop or tablet to take notes. Using sites like Evernote, Airtable, Trello (works great for group projects), or Google Docs can help you organize your courses and notes better. Explore the sites and find which one works best for you!
Recommended Read: How to take notes using evernote
- Go back over your notes soon after your class is over and review your notes, adding in information you might have missed from your recording or memory.
- Talk to your professors early on in the semester and during their office hours. Explain your learning disability and how you plan to compensate during their lectures. Ask them for notes, if available, and suggestions on ways to succeed in their course.
5. Studying can be challenging for anyone in college, but for a student with ADHD, it can mean the difference between passing and failing.
- Create a plan of action at the start of your semester after reviewing each course syllabus.
- Don’t wait the last minute to complete assignments (especially big assignments!). You will miss out on really learning the subject and possibly fail.
- Break up your day into study chunks.
- Write out a priorities list for each week and assign projects and studying to individual pieces.
- Find the best spot with the fewest distractions. Whether it is your dorm room, the quad, or the library go where your brain focuses best.
- Rewrite your notes and listen to the recording.
- Take breaks and move around and stretch.
Heading to college with ADHD is an opportunity to help you keep growing and learning as a person. Set your goals and go after your dreams!