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“New Semester, New Start: 3 Quick Tips for College Students with ADHD”

Kick off your new semester right by following these steps for college students with ADHD who are resolved to achieve academic success.

Young unrecognisable female college student in class, taking notes and using highlighter. Focused student in classroom. Authentic Education concept.
Young unrecognisable female college student in class, taking notes and using highlighter. Focused student in classroom. Authentic Education concept.

A new semester can bring a whole new rhythm to your days as a college student with ADHD — and sometimes change is hard.

Avoid headaches, undue stress, and common pitfalls, and start the new semester off strong, with these simple tips.

1. Read the syllabus

It seems like an obvious step, but I know from my experiencing working with college students (many of whom have ADHD) that there’s a tendency to skim through course syllabi.

Even though most courses are on the college’s Learning Management System (LMS), it’s still important to actually read the syllabus closely before your first lecture. The few minutes spent on this will help you avoid a lot of unpleasant surprises and oversights. You may not realize, for example, that you need a certain hard-to-find book or that an important assignment deadline is buried in a lengthy paragraph. Here’s what to look for:

[Free Download: What Are Your Teen’s Weakest Executive Functions?]

  • Class meeting times and important due dates. Use these to create your schedule for the semester. Learn how to create and stick to a college calendar here.
  • Learning objectives. These are usually at the top of the syllabus, and they are tempting to skip over. Seeing the big picture can help you stay engaged in the weekly work. Ask yourself:
    • What’s interesting to me about this class/What am I curious about?
    • How does this class connect to my program of study?
  • Required reading. Order the textbook and see if additional readings are included in the LMS or available through the library. Note when the first readings need to be completed.

2. Review the course on the LMS

Your professors and TAs might use the LMS to communicate important information and post minor assignments. (They might ask you to post an introduction to a discussion thread or complete another online activity before a lecture.) Make sure to review the platform and note where you’ll submit assignments.

[Read:Your ADHD College Survival Guide]

3. Check in with yourself

Ask yourself how motivated you feel for each course. It will be easier to stay engaged in the courses that interest you. For the ones you are less excited about, create a safety net for yourself:

  • Remind yourself what’s important about taking this class. Is it required for your major? Does it fill an elective? What topics or skills will you learn that you can apply to other classes or future work?
  • Set a weekly time in your calendar to review the LMS and make sure you know what’s due and what’s coming up.
  • Buddy up. Connect with a classmate and schedule regular sessions where you can work on assignments, study, and review together — or simply motivate one another.

New Semester with ADHD: Next Steps

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