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Getting Ready for College

Ways to Prepare for College

Preparing for college requires a focus on skill development in two key areas: academic skills and social skills. For students with ADHD who face unique challenges in these areas, developing these skills requires a bit of extra effort and dedication.

The good news is that there are many ways parents and educators can provide guidance in these two areas. Below is a look at some specific ways to help students with ADHD prepare for college.


Tips to Succeed Academically in College

The path to success in college begins with preparation. By being prepared for the academic changes that lie ahead, students will be able to make a smooth adjustment to life in the college classroom. Here are tips for helping students with ADHD enjoy academic success when they enter college.

Schedule Classes During Peak Learning Hours

One of the best things about going to college is students' ability to schedule classes during the times of the day when they learn the best. Every student with ADHD has certain times of the day when they are most productive and attentive. Working with students and their college counselor to schedule classes during these peak hours is highly recommended.

Plan to be in the Classroom 10 Minutes Before Class Begins

Strongly encourage students to get into the habit of arriving in class at least 10 minutes early. This typically means planning to leave the dorm early like clockwork every day. By arriving early to the classroom, students have time to get settled in their seats, organize their assignments, and prepare for coursework. 

Choose a Seat at the Front of the Classroom

Sitting in the front of the classroom is a great way to minimize distractions. Students who sit in the front row of the class will not be able to see many of the other students, who can be a distraction during classroom activities. Distracting noises from the hallway are also minimized. And when the only thing in front of you is your professor, you will be able to devote your full attention to the learning process. 

Sign Up for Free Tutoring Services Whenever Possible

Many college campuses offer free tutoring services upon request. Make sure students know where to go if help is needed with challenging coursework. Also, parents should encourage students to avoid waiting until the night before final exams to ask for help. Tutoring will be most effective if help is sought as soon as students recognize that they are struggling to understand key concepts.

To be there on time, the trick is to plan to be there early; set a mental arrival time 10 minutes before the scheduled time to allow for unforeseen delays.
Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.
Michele Novotni, Ph.D. Michele Novotni, Ph.D.

Tips to Succeed Socially in College

Academic success is vital to a fruitful college experience. However, students with ADHD will have a difficult time adjusting to college without some basic life skills. Here are four ways parents and educators can aid in the life skill development process.

Schedule at Least Two Campus Tours with Your Teen

A campus tour is a great way for parents and their children to connect as your teen becomes familiar with his or her living environment. Try to schedule at least two visits with your child. During the first visit, perform a campus walk through together. Here are some places to visit during your walk through:

  • The dormitory where your child will be living
  • The student health center
  • The library and study halls
  • The bookstore (consider purchasing textbooks during this visit)
  • The student center and dining establishments
  • The office of your child's academic counselor

During your second visit, visit the same facilities you did during the first visit. However, let your child lead the way this time. This will help ensure that they feel comfortable with their transition to life on campus.

Teach Students Basic Budgeting Skills Over the Summer

Learning basic budgeting skills is a must for every college student. Students with ADHD may need extra help setting a budget and sticking to it. In addition to discussing the cost of college tuition and ensuring payments are made, students should be introduced to the following elements of budgeting before they arrive on campus:

  • The cost of room and board
  • Any necessary transportation costs
  • Expected clothing expenses
  • Anticipated entertainment costs
  • What can happen if you exceed your budget

In addition to discussing these elements of a budget, encourage students to keep a written log of every expense. Explain that having a record of their expenditures during their first semester will help them plan their budget for the second semester.  

Encourage Participation in Extra-Curricular Activities

While academic success should be a student's top priority, participation in extra-curricular activities can help students with ADHD connect with peers who have similar interests and build lasting friendships. Building a social support network is especially important for students who can have difficulty making and keeping friends. Popular options include participating in intramural sports, joining a fraternity or sorority, and volunteering on campus.

Encourage Students to Find a Quiet Place to Unwind and Study

A quiet, distraction-free study environment is a must for students who struggle to stay on task. Whether it is the third floor of the library or a quiet spot in the student center, every college student should have at least two distraction-free places they can go to relax and complete their coursework.



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