7 Key Tips for Managing ADD/ADHD in College

The transition to college is a memorable and eventful time. If you’re vacillating between pride, excitement, and anxiety, you aren’t alone.

Are you layering those feelings on top of concerns about how your child will tackle ADHD alone too?

It’s okay. Your ability to let go and your child’s ability to take on more independence is entirely possible. You and your student can navigate this time well with some practical, intentional strategies in place.

First things first: accept the shift in your role

The truth is the journey to college has likely been paved with challenges and uncertainties. Yet, you have both made it this far due to your combined diligence and willingness to learn. Nothing has changed. Still, in years past, you needed to be more hands-on. This new venture will undoubtedly require you to be less instructional and more influential.

That’s a good thing. Your student will appreciate your trust in their ability to manage their own life and affairs. With that in mind, consider the following ways to help your child succeed in college:

7 Key Tips for Managing ADD/ADHD in College

1. Gear up with a Game Plan

Now is the time to gently guide your teen into their new lifestyle. Develop a plan together. Do keep in mind that they need to feel confident about executing it with less help from you. Thus, it’s important to look at what which resources will help you both feel emotionally and mentally prepared for coping and succeeding on campus and in the classroom.

Consider that you may need to reach out to an advisor regarding accommodations for students with ADHD. Advocate for your student but be sure that they use their voice to ensure they get what they need. 

Does your student’s school

  • allow ADHD/ADD students to record daily lessons/lectures?
  • permit ADHD/ADD students extra time to complete assignments in class?
  • provide ADHD/ADD students with copies of lecture notes?
  • support ADHD/ADD students with assignments, use of organizational tools, and timelines?
  • make counseling or advisory services available for ADHD/ADD students?

2. Assess the Course Load Realistically

As soon as possible, encourage your teen to read the syllabus of every class they’ve been assigned. Communicate that it’s crucial for long-term success that they are honest about their time and energy.

Let them know that it’s okay to reassess their choices if they have real doubts about spreading themselves too thin.  It’s perfectly okay to reorganize classes for optimal benefit.

3. Embrace the Use of Scheduling Tools

Remind your student that lots will be happening every week in school and life. Advise them to create a manageable system to get things done. That said, support them in creating an easy-to-follow, custom-made set of tools that they’ll appreciate and use regularly.

Whether tools are tech-based, paper-based, or a combination of both, the idea is to clearly and routinely keep track of classes, assignments, and social activities. Encouraging involvement in organizations can help them avoid overwhelm.

4.  Make an Optimal Study Plan

One of the best gifts your student can give themselves is a quiet, consistent place to study and concentrate. In addition, early on, talk about committing to blocks of study time, rather than marathon study sessions. Remind your teen to manage their periods of attention intentionally.

With blocks of study time decided, in the appropriate place, encourage them to think through what exactly they want to get done. Each time they study they will benefit from plotting those things in a digital or paper planner.

5. Create a Balance Between Work and Fun

Distraction is a major issue for your student. College life is full of them. So, to get the most out of the experience, a balance between academic life and social life is ideal. Otherwise, one may be constantly thrown over for the other. This can easily become frustrating and drive anxiety. 

Let your student know that you support a well-rounded life, managed independently. Warn them that experimenting with drugs and alcohol will only cause more attention problems. Also, let them know you are available to help them secure support if they feel life is getting lopsided or too stressful.

6. Research Social Societies Carefully

Images of college life are fraught with fraternity and sorority parties and connections. Depending on your child’s interest, it’s important to take a critical look at the pros and cons.  Discuss the groups on campus: what are the monetary, emotional, and physical costs? 

Help your student key in on clubs and groups aligned with their interests and values. They will be much stronger support of their aims and productivity.

7. Stay Connected and Available

Finally, staying connected to your child is the most important strategy. Without hovering or smothering you can – and should- keep the lines of communication open.

Remain supportive of your child is vital as they find their feet and become increasingly resilient. Simply be a grounding, knowledgeable voice in an exciting, confusing world. This helps immensely as they pursue their dreams and goals.

Do you want to learn more about how to help a child your student adjust to college? Please read more about counseling for ADHD/ADD teens.

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