Right now, after your first semester, you may be feeling that college is beyond you. You're not alone. In a poll of 2,240 undergraduate students, taken several years back, 85 percent of them reported feeling stress about grades, schoolwork, money, and relationships. Forty-two percent reported feeling depressed or hopeless, and 13 percent showed signs of actual depression. Students with ADHD may have more reasons to be distressed.
While such statistics are a warning, they are not a cause for alarm. The good news is that accessing services and resources on campus can help you level the playing field. It has been shown that students with disabilities who use available support at college have the same graduation rates as their non-disabled peers.
Not all students use available resources, however. Studies show that only about one-third of students who received special education services in high school sought formal accommodations in college. Getting to college is a big accomplishment, but graduating from college is your goal. College is different from and, in many ways, more difficult than high school, but with hard work and support you can succeed.
Here are some accommodations, modifications, and technology that many college students with ADHD find useful. Be selective when looking over the list. Every student doesn't need every accommodation.
> Sit near the front of the room.
> Use a note taker.
> Get copies of another student's notes.
> Use a smart pen, such as the Pulse Smartpen, for recording lectures.
> Use a computer in all classes.
> Obtain copies of visual aids or PowerPoint presentations to review before class.
> Get permission to leave for a brief break, or stand in the back of the class every 30-45 minutes during long lectures.
> Take notes using a graphic organizer.
> Before the lecture, ask the teacher to give you a copy of the notes or a list of key words.
> Obtain written instructions from your professors.
> Reduce your course load.
> Do priority registration.
> Request a course substitution.
> Get extended time for completion.
> Find a distraction-free environment.
> Alter the examination schedule.
> Take a longer exam over a period of time, in shorter segments.
> Request take-home or open-book exams.
> Get permission to tape-record answers to questions on an exam. The professor might grade responses as if it were an oral exam.
> Have a list of formulas during math tests.
> Meet with the professor to clarify the assignment.
> Create a rubric to determine what the teacher expects the assignment to contain, and have him show examples of assignments that received an A grade.
> Have rough drafts evaluated before handing in your final copy.
> Use a computer for in-class writing assignments.
> Use speech-to-text technology.
> Use a reading program, like one from Kurzweil, which scans your book and reads it to you.
> Break up individual reading assignments into smaller segments.
> Request audio recordings of texts.
> Use a calculator for tests.
Adapted with permission from AD/HD and the College Student: The Everything Guide to Your Most Urgent Questions, by Patricia O. Quinn. ©2012 Magination Press, an imprint of the American Psychological Association.
This article appears in the Winter 2012 issue of ADDitude.
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Learn about other ways to succeed in college. Visit the ADHD and College and Higher Education support group on ADDConnect.