ADHD in College

U of ADHD: 14 College Hacks for Neurodivergent Students

Delayed and developing executive functions sometimes prevent students with ADHD from getting to class consistently, studying reliably, and planning effectively. These strategies will help.

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The transition to college is really exciting — and really anxiety-provoking. Academic expectations and demands on executive functions both spike as teens begin to independently steer all sorts of new responsibilities — from laundry to shopping for shampoo. Without a parental safety net, life can feel overwhelming.

After helping countless college students with ADHD compensate for weak executive functioning, I’ve discovered a host of hacks that reliably help neurodivergent undergrads navigate new challenges, both big and small. Here are some of my favorites.

Attending Class with ADHD

  • Schedule your classes back-to-back so there is no time or excuse to pop by your dorm room or apartment, where you might get off track by napping, texting, or visiting with friends.
  • Request a meeting with every teacher at the beginning of the semester. Whether they’re teaching a 400-person lecture or a 10-person lab, most professors are happy to put a face to a name.
  • Remember: If you want to pass, go to class. It’s simple but true.

[Free Guide to Securing ADHD Accommodations in College]

Studying with ADHD

  • Schedule time for homework and studying. If you’re taking 16 credit hours, plan on 16 homework hours.
  • Use colored fonts to break up and sort study guides. If you prefer print, use colored index cards.
  • Keep yourself accountable. Body double with your best friend over Face Time so you can both type up your term papers and resist distractions together. Schedule a meeting with your professor that serves as a deadline. Experiment to see what works best for you.
  • Stock up on erasable gel pens in different colors, which help commit information to memory. The smooth gel provides satisfying sensory feedback and if you make a mistake, no worries.

[Read: ADHD Minds Are Trapped in Now (& Other Time Management Truths)]

Planning with ADHD

  • Shower at night. Mornings are usually too rushed.
  • Fill up your gas tank when it dips to a quarter full.
  • Get automatic toiletry “subscriptions” for soap, shampoo, shaving cream, anything you use regularly.
  • Dedicate a clean space for work, even if the rest of your room is a huge mess.
  • In your car’s glove box, lock an extra medication dose — stimulant, allergy pill, whatever you take regularly.

Sleeping with ADHD

  • Use a white, green, or brown noise machine to get a good night’s sleep (and block out dorm noise).
  • If you’re having trouble waking up, try a sunrise clock, which activates your neurohormones before your eyes open by gradually brightening the room.

[Read: How to Succeed in College with ADHD – Evidence-Based Strategies That Work]

College Hacks for ADHD: Next Steps

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