Most teens with AD/HD can remember how they struggled to get along in school. You used tutoring, medication, tape recorders, and plain hard work to get along in elementary school. But then came middle school with class changes, different teachers and crowded halls. Your grades and social life may have taken a nose dive. It seemed like you and your parents had to learn about your AD/HD all over. Once again though, you got your balance. Now you are a high school senior and it’s time to get ready for college. You have probably known friends who went off to college with high hopes, only to end up back home six months later. How do you know whether you are ready to live in the dorms? What can you do to increase your chances of success?
Can You Take Care of Yourself? I often ask seniors and their parents to make a list of the basic skills needed to stay awake, clothed and fed. Many individuals with AD/HD have trouble keeping a regular sleep schedule. Can you wake yourself up, fix breakfast and get to classes on time? Do you still need parental reminders to bring your books home and keep track of your long-term assignments? Do you have experience doing laundry or balancing a checkbook?
Do you have a realistic view of your strengths and weaknesses? This is the time to review your current and past educational testing. Only if you acknowledge your areas of difficulty, can you develop good coping strategies.
Do you use alcohol or illegal drugs? If you have AD/HD, you are at greater risk for alcohol and drug problems. Drugs and the “party lifestyle” often appeal to impulsive individuals. In the less structured college setting, a minor problem with drugs can get out of hand.
Are there people on campus to help you? Some colleges have programs to help students who need assistance with organization and learning. In order to receive special services, you may need psychological and educational testing to document your specific needs. You should document your needs and contact the appropriate college offices before you arrive on campus.
The initial adjustment to college may be a challenge, but many individuals find that the new choices and flexibility allow them to become passionate learners in their areas of strength.