Dear Colleges: Pay Attention to ADHD Students

ADHD Issues & Info


Have you ever felt that you just could not get organized, keep your assignments straight, or turn your homework in on time? If this sounds like you, and you find yourself full of energy, but are unable to focus, you could be displaying several symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). About 6.4 million, or 11%, of children ages 4 to 17 in the U.S. were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and this number continues to rise. This may not be a surprising fact, especially if you have seen this in your school. But what you may not realize is that these symptoms can stick with high school graduates as they go on to college. In elementary and high school settings, schools are often required to have programs in place, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, time management exercises, and counseling. But in colleges, high school graduates are having a hard time finding support for ADHD at all. One study of 124 campus health care centers around the U.S. showed that about a third of these centers still do not offer prescription medication for ADHD. Fortunately, there are other options. ADHD coaching has gained a reputation in recent years for its effectiveness. These coaches work with students on scheduling, goal-setting, timekeeping, organization, focusing, prioritizing, and sticking with tasks. ADHD coaches and students combine efforts to come up with reachable goals in both academic and personal spheres. Larger tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable steps, and creative systems are put in place to remember and place these tasks in order of priority. The coaches then talk to students on a regular basis, checking on their emotional well-being, and they also monitor the rate of reaching the agreed-upon goals. The overall effect these coaches have had has been a positive one. Many students have reported feeling a greater understanding of how ADHD impacts their life, as well as an improved sense of how to manage their time. A recent study conducted by the Journal of Attention Disorders found that students came out of their coaching experience with better organizational skills, a boost in feelings of self-efficacy, higher motivation, more accountability for their schoolwork, and an overall feeling of academic and personal success, among several other positive outcomes. So if you do get diagnosed with ADHD before you head off to college, try to apply to schools that offer programs for high school graduates with ADHD, as well as ADHD coaching. You can also check to see if they have a prescription site on campus, and talk to the counselors or psychologists at the school ahead of time. This will reduce your anxiety about going off to college, and give you the support you need. These treatments may not be the cure, but they can help reduce your ADHD symptoms, and help you feel successful in this next chapter of your life.