School. The very word can strike fear in the heart of a woman with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).
Whether you are a recent high school graduate or you’re going back after taking time out to work and start a family, heading to college or to any other adult-learning program is likely to churn up a lot of emotion. If you were diagnosed in adulthood, you may associate school with struggling or failing. And you probably worry about how you’ll juggle household obligations along with homework.
Making the decision to go back to school shows you have the determination you’ll need. With a little preparation, you’ll be sure to succeed.
Assignment #1: Assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Pinpointing how attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) affects the way you learn and manage your time will help you to complete coursework and assignments (and to hand them in). Think back on your last school experience. What types of work gave you trouble? Were lectures difficult to sit through? Essay tests? In which classes were you able to do your best? Enroll in a mix of courses that balance your workload and that draw on your strengths.
REAL-LIFE TIP: Find out what kinds of assignments each department—and each instructor—generally gives. If writing long essays is hard for you, limit the number of classes that will require lengthy reports. If lectures are a problem, don’t load up on them in a single semester. (And invest in a handheld tape recorder.)
Assignment #2: Look into accommodations.
No matter what creative strategies you develop to work around trouble spots, certain weaknesses that are rooted in ADHD symptoms can still present challenges. But at the post-secondary level, you shouldn’t have to worry about penmanship. Instead, you can take essay tests in your school’s computer lab.
If you have difficulties that can’t be surmounted by savvy scheduling and other self-taught strategies, I urge you to disclose your disorder to your school’s disabilities office and find out how to qualify for services. In addition to psychological testing that documents the attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) diagnosis, your school may request psychometric testing that addresses intellectual functioning, learning style, and academic strengths and weaknesses.
Accommodations for students with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) or learning disabilities may include extended time for tests, oral exams, a peer tutor, or a note-taker who accompanies you to classes. Experiment with the services offered to find what works.
REAL-LIFE TIP: Take advantage of the student orientation period to introduce yourself to instructors. Let them know what accommodations you’ve been granted and come up with a plan for putting them in place. For example, if you need a quiet testing environment, decide whether you’ll take exams in the professor’s office or an empty classroom.
This article comes from the August/September issue of ADDitude.