Success in High School/Problems in College


"My 21-year-old son graduated at the top of his high school class, but now can't seem to make it in college."

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

The primary question is whether his untreated ADHD caused his college difficulties or whether something else was involved. If he says that he tried to concentrate in class and when he studied but could not, there is the possibility that his problems were because of his being off medication. Hopefully, the experiences of the first year in college will convince him to consider going back on medication. If he does want to, there are at least eight medications to consider. Ask him to discuss this with his physician.

You must consider another possibility. For a high percent of freshman, the problem is the freedom and lack of supervision. It is very common to prefer social life to study. Alcohol and/or drugs might become a daily or every weekend activity. Soon, classes are missed and work is not done. Sadly, about 11 percent of freshman college students drop out because of these problems. Discuss this possibility with your son before concluding that it was being off of medication.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.

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