Transition From High School To College

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    • #60237

      My grandson is a 17yr. old High School Senior. He wants to attend college, but his GPA is low. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was eight years old and was given a 504. We were told that he is very capable and does not have an LD, but he lacks focus and concentration. He has experienced highs and lows throughout his academic career ranging from high school honor roll student to the failure of three subjects. His teachers say that he catches on to the subject matter fast but doesn’t do homework or turn in projects on time (typical ADHD symptoms). He’s sociable, loves sports and is a pretty good athlete, but not good enough to earn a college scholarship. His mother is against giving him medication and as a result he does not take any. We would like to know if there are any colleges are programs that have provisions for students with an ADHD impairment and would accept his low GPA.

    • #60253

      A key question is whether your grandson and his mother are comfortable disclosing his disability at college. It’s a long road from diagnosis to acceptance.

      If he is comfortable with disclosing, he might want to check out the local Community College (or University of his choice) and talk to someone in the Disability Services Department. They can make sure he has the accommodations in college that he needs to succeed.

      He also might find a support group for young people with ADHD in his area. is a good place to look. Talking to other people with invisible disabilities about disclosure can help him decide if it’s right for him.

      Just saw an interesting article on the subject.

      It is not an easy decision to make. Help him find any resources he can to not make the decision alone. All the best.

    • #60290

      Thank you for responding. I will look into suggestions.

    • #60328

      U of Arizona has a targeted program:

      Anecdotally, our friend’s daughter is thriving in the program.

    • #60378

      Thank you for responding. This sounds very interesting. I will definitely look into it.

    • #60379

      His mother is sabotaging him. Might as well as a kid to go without glasses.

      Soon, it will be HIS decision and not hers. As an adult with ADHD, I can confidently say that if he ever tries drugs, there is a very good chance that he will never forgive her for screwing up the rest of his life.

      That said, community colleges generally hand-hold a little more and are a better place for less than excellent students. The chances that he can handle all the changes with going away to college all at once are slim.

    • #60383

      Thank you for your response and opinion. However, without medication he has made the honor roll twice. His mother feels that drugs will only make him feel like he is incapable of being successful on his own.

      • #60598

        His mom is wrong to fear meds; she should let him try them and allow him to make his own decision about whether to stay on them. My son has taken them for years and decided recently to stop; it has been very hard on him. I don’t understand how meds are a confidence issue; we take medications for all sorts of things. Why stigmatize ADD? However, the meds do have their downsides and that is something the son would have to work out for himself. His mom should not hold him back.

        For those who do not want to pursue medication, I have also heard very good things about transcendental meditation and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), both of which are apparently helping to rewire the ADD/ADHD brain. I’ve tried to talk my son into trying these but he is uninterested in pursuing these, both of which involve routine and practice for them to be effective.

      • #61028

        Chances are, he will never forgive her.

        I made honor role every semester. My last B was in 5th grade. I was a National Merit Scholar. I entered college with 57 credits from AP tests. My GRE was almost perfect back when that meant something. I made the Dean’s List more often than I didn’t, while running a company from my dorm room. I had a double major with a minor and almost enough for two more minors.

        No drugs.

        I was diagnosed in my 30s. I didn’t know before why stupid things were so phenomenally hard for me. Why I could do amazing things but I almost killed myself to just switch focus from one task to another. Why it was so hard to pick up something I set down. Why it would take a farcical number of times of me coming into a room to remember what I wanted to do there. Why I couldn’t handle driving in heavy traffic with people talking at the same time without being exhausted when I arrived from the sheer intellectual effort of it.

        The difference a low dose of drugs has made on my life is tremendous. It’s night and day.

        For all my success, if my mother had known I as ADHD and had deliberately withheld drugs, I likely would have cut contact with her for years. It would have been very, very hard for me to ever have a good relationship with her again because her selfishness in wanting a certain kind of child would have made huge parts of my life hell for no reason. And I’m incredibly successful by most measures.

        Your grandson isn’t successful. He’s struggling. And his mother doing exactly the same as if she were withholding hearing aids from a child who is deaf without them because she doesn’t want the hearing aids “to do the work for him”–but really, she doesn’t want the shame of a kid who NEEDS hearing aids.

        It’s the rest of your grandchild’s life at stake here, NOT her ego.

        I don’t care what you think about me. I’m a stranger on the internet. I just think it’s only fair to let you know that ALL decisions have consequences. You grandson’s choice of college has already been dramatically limited by the poor choices your daughter has made. Now you have the potential to sabotage the beginning of his adulthood to an even greater extent than she already has.

    • #60501
      Penny Williams

      Here’s a list of tips for licking the right college when you have ADHD:

      Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Choose a College

      Many with ADHD seem to thrive in programs that are tailored to their interests, as opposed to the traditional degree that is rounded with courses from all subjects. There are school for art, technology, etc, or even a vocational program.

      College isn’t right for everyone, especially not right out of high school. There are many options:

      You Don’t Have to Start College Right Away (Or At All!)

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #60596

      My son was diagnosed in middle school, and is now in his senior year of college. He had an uneven record in high school but managed to get into a good school. He has an uneven record in college, as well. School isn’t very hospitable to people with ADD/ADHD; it’s full of deadlines and often relatively trivial work, and professors, like teachers, aren’t very sympathetic to the challenges of those with ADD/ADHD. My son generally did better in school on meds; it most definitely helped him focus. However last year he decided he didn’t want to take them any more. His grades plummeted; he forgot to turn in homework and often skipped classes. He barely scraped by but he did make it and it looks as if he will graduate on time. People with ADD/ADHD have to find strategies for surviving the chaos that college represents. I am a professor myself and often work with students who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD: these students stand out because they are so forgetful–and sometimes quite stubborn–and at college there’s no one to remind them or keep them on track. Without medication, there are very few tools to overcome the challenges of ADD/ADHD since, from what I’ve seen, the biggest problems are short term memory loss, anxiety, and executive function issues, which make for a strong challenge in an unstructured environment that changes throughout the semester and then changes massively semester by semester.

      That said, students with ADD/ADHD in my experience (including my son) are exceedingly quick learners and creative thinkers, so if they can find ways to cope with the many organizing demands, and if they take classes that truly interest them, they can succeed. I think they need to keep their expectations modest in school, however, until schools figure out how to address their particular challenges and gifts. My goal with my son is to support him and fight against my own worry and desire to see him do well academically. I am confident that once he gets through the unique barriers of school life, and can settle into the greater predictability of a job, he will do okay (as long as the content of the job itself isn’t boring).

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by vceross.
    • #60654

      vceross, your insights are both thoughtful and realistically comforting. Thank you!

      Based on our experience so far, I feel like my creative/forgetful/anxious/stubborn HS sophomore has a great chance for a fulfilling life and career as long as he accepts support from loved ones and he stays with what he loves.

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