5 Tips for College Students with ADHD

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College success depends on the student's ability to juggle and prioritize competing demands, form new routines, and follow through with plans. Executive functioning skills, specifically time management, organization, and planning are key components to collegiate success, but are areas that many students with ADHD struggle with. These skills are not only critical to college success, they are also required in the post-college, professional world.

Following are 5 strategies to help college students with ADHD achieve academic success in college:

1.Use a system for time management
College students lacking a time management system tend to experience a great deal of stress. Get in the habit of using a calendar to track and manage time. You should record work schedules, plans with friends, plans with family, when you need to get prescriptions refilled, appointments, errands, and even downtime. Technology makes this very easy and prevents a messy paper calendar full of eraser marks and also eliminates the risk of a lost calendar full of important information. Great options include the free online calendar system offered by sites such as Yahoo and Google. Many of the calendar systems allow you to synch the calendar to your smart phone.

The regular use of a to-do list is a key companion to the calendar system. Trying to remember various tasks and obligations throughout the day is exhausting and not effective. Find a method for keeping track of new tasks as they arise. Some people like to use the Notes page on their smart phone or jot things down on a notepad; others prefer different free apps for this, such as Evernote. At the end of the day transfer the list to the Task/To Do section of your calendar along with a due date, so you can integrate it into your time management system.

2.Break down big projects into smaller ones
As soon as you receive a syllabus, enter the due dates for major assignments and tests into your calendar. Next, write down each project and make a list of what is involved in getting it done. For example, some of the steps for writing a paper would be choosing a thesis, doing the research for the paper, writing a rough draft, and proofreading. Studying for a test should include organizing your notes and creating a study guide from your notes. After you have written the steps for each assignment, give them due dates and put them on your schedule so you have a game plan for the semester. This will help you avoid trying to write a paper in a week or pulling an €all nighter€ cramming for a test.

4.Anticipate and plan for obstacles
Think about what tends to get you off track. Is it forgetting to plan ahead? Plan a time to consistently review your schedule at the end of each day and put sticky notes to yourself in key places to remind yourself. Did a friend ask you to lunch when you were planning to study? Leave enough free time in your daily schedule that you have some flexibility to move things around and reschedule your study time to a free spot in your schedule.

3.Be Smart About Using Technology
Technology provides wonderful external structures that can help students with ADHD. Livescribe is a €smart pen€ that records lectures while you are taking notes and allows you to review the part of the lectures you weren't attending to. You can use alarms on your computer and phone to signal when it's time to get off Facebook and resume studying, when you should leave for class, etc. There are also apps like Task Timer that help you figure out help you stay on task. It's a good idea to turn off notification when a new text or email arrives during study time.

5.Don't wait until you're behind to ask for help
Many students with ADHD had a number of support system in place that helped them succeed in high school. Having supports is even more important in college. Explore the resources your school offers. It can also help to hire someone in an intermediary role, such as a college success consultant who can teach these skills and more while keeping you on track throughout the semester. A small investment can pay big dividends when it comes to your happiness and success in college.


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