You're on Your Own: College Success for ADHD Students

Learning how to get organized, study hard, and find balance is as essential as reading Shakespeare for ADHD college students.


Filed Under: ADHD and College, Organization Tips for ADD Adults

Conquering College, Part 3

The Social Scene: Do the Right Thing

College is something like the Wild West. Gone are the rules and strictures that have guided you until now. Here, anything goes—and usually does—right before your eyes. Without the family and friends who steered you through high school, it’s easy to lose your way.

In college, you’ll need to create a new community, and new rules, to be your guideposts.

  • Find kindred spirits. Students with AD/HD have a special incentive to avoid drugs and alcohol. Impulsive behavior, poor judgment, and a desire to fit in make it difficult to say no or to set reasonable limits. Look for people with the same hobbies, sports, religious views, or political perspectives, and spend time with them in casual settings and in organizations and clubs.

Friends who understand you and share your values can protect you from temptation and from pressure to test your limits. And if you do get into trouble, they’ll throw you a lifeline.

  • Seek balance, draw boundaries. Is your social life using up time needed for study? You’ll need to draw boundaries and not over-commit. Make sure your friends know they can’t call after a certain hour, and have a set time to turn off the phone and lock the door. Ask your roommates to respect your study times, too, and stick to them.
  • Be risk-averse. ADDers have a hard time recognizing trouble until it’s too late. Are you skipping early classes because you stay up late drinking? Are you losing money at online poker?

You can put your health, your college career, and your tuition in peril if you fail to think ahead. It can be hard to recognize your own weakness; if you have difficulty spotting danger, ask a friend to keep an eye on you and tell you when you’re heading for trouble.

  • Consider counseling. College is a microcosm of the real world, overflowing with opportunities. It can be surprisingly difficult to achieve balance and to make good choices. If you feel you’re heading down the wrong path—or even if you have a minor hurdle to overcome—go to your college counseling center. It will be the first of many good decisions.
  • Pair your pleasures. Even when your workload’s full, you don’t have to forsake friends. No matter how busy you are, eating regular meals and getting exercise are key to an AD/HD college student’s success. Meet a friend for lunch or work out with a partner to get in some socializing without cutting into your study time.

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