ADHD in College

You Can Take It with You

What to bring along when you take your ADHD to college.

Group of college students studying over the grass in the campus.

I recently achieved a milestone in my life: going off to college. For me, this meant going about five miles from home and moving into a residence hall with a bunch of complete strangers. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Those who think “You can’t take it with you” should now hear this: With ADHD, you can take it with you. Preparing myself for a new environment, I packed the usual essentials (sheets, clothes, etc.). However, I also packed some things that, in retrospect, seem absurd (a bubble machine, for instance?).

Don’t ask what I was thinking. I don’t know. I do know that I didn’t plan for some of the most crucial requirements of college. I have compiled a list for anyone who may choose to follow in my footsteps.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • Laundry detergent. You mean I have to do my own laundry?
  • A dust mop. If you have a tile floor, this is a necessity. My dorm room could have a dirt floor and still not be any dustier.
  • Fabric freshener. Trust me on this one.
  • Food. Between classes or late at night, there will be times when you really need something that is filling or tastes great — or both.
  • Medicine. Midol, Advil, Tums, Claritin, ADHD medication. You name it, you’ll need it.
  • Movies. I don’t know if they serve as a useful distraction or are just distracting, but in-room flicks are a necessary evil for sure. I know that there are times when you need to “veg out.”
  • Daily planner. I’m a strong advocate of planners to keep things organized. I would no sooner take my ADHD to college without a planner than I would try to belch without a soda.

I realized I had brought my ADHD with me to college in my first class — and in every class thereafter. Some things to keep in mind:

Habits to Keep

  • Get your schedule and keep it current. I know what you’re thinking. No, you can’t rely on only your memory.
  • Set your alarm clock before bed. If you’re attention-challenged like me, post a reminder where you’ll see it (on the mirror, computer, above the bed) to avoid forgetting.
  • Prepare for classes the night before. Gather together all your books and notebooks so you won’t risk forgetting them in the morning (you know, before your Adderall kicks in).
  • Keep ahead of the game in your classes. No cramming. I’ve said this before, and I want all students who have ADHD to repeat with me now: “I swear I will never put off my work ever again. And this time, I mean it.” Yes, I know that procrastination is part of human nature. If you have ADHD, however, it’s second nature. You need to do what doesn’t come naturally, and work on things ahead of time — as sick as that might sound.
  • Finally, enjoy the good things that come with ADHD. Remember, you’re the light in other people’s lives, even if they think you’re the headlight of an oncoming train.