Executive_Function_Deficits_in_College College Executive Function DeficitsSending Your Child Back to College with Executive Function Deficits? Pass Along These Tips and Tricks

Navigating college life with executive function deficits and other learning disabilities often means encountering a unique set of academic, organizational, and social hurdles. The combination of a demanding academic schedule, newfound independence, and an omnipresent social environment can be challenging. Additionally, many students with learning disabilities may not fully anticipate the impact of their condition on their college experience.

Achieving success in college requires time and self-awareness. The initial step is to create a strategic plan tailored for college life.

Here are some tailored strategies for college students facing executive functioning challenges:

Choose the Right Courses

The standard course load and schedule might not be suitable. College offers the flexibility to select classes that align with a student’s interests and strengths. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Early Registration Benefits: Register as early as possible to secure your preferred classes.
  • Seek Recommendations: Talk to fellow students about which professors are best suited for specific courses.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Utilize the drop/add period at the semester’s start to adjust your classes if needed. If a class doesn’t feel right after a few sessions, feel free to switch.
  • Syllabus Review: Assess the workload and interest level of each course by reviewing the syllabus. Make sure it’s manageable and engaging.
  • Class Size Matters: Whenever possible, opt for smaller classes that promote group discussions rather than large lecture halls.
  • Extra Options: Register for more classes than you plan to take. This strategy allows you to drop a class without disrupting your entire schedule.

Develop Strong Study Habits

Refer to our blog post on how to develop executive functions in college to help establish a study system.

Highlights of this article include:

  1. Set Goals
  2. Create a Routine
  3. Use Technology
  4. Prioritize Tasks
  5. Practice Self-Control

Determining the most effective study method for yourself requires time and thought. This is particularly true for students with executive function deficits, as there is no universal study strategy that fits all needs.

Cultivate Focus

The college experience is often frenetic, making it tough to consistently focus on academics. For many new students, the combination of newfound freedom and reduced supervision can be a recipe for academic neglect. Social activities often take precedence, leading to skipped classes and incomplete assignments.

For students grappling with executive function challenges, the demands of college can further intensify these difficulties, making the consistent prioritization of academic work a significant challenge.

To craft a personal focus strategy, consider these questions:

  • Identify Your Ideal Study Space Do you prefer studying in your room, a library, or a quiet corner of a coffee shop? Or maybe the communal environment of a dorm lounge suits you better?
  • Determine Your Optimal Study Time Are you more productive at night in a tranquil dorm or early in the morning? Does physical exercise beforehand boost your concentration?
  • Understand Your Learning Style Do you grasp information better through reading, or does an audio accompaniment enhance your understanding? Should you take notes during lectures, record them, or both? Consider whether teaching others helps you memorize, or if writing aids your retention.
  • Strategies to Maintain Focus Are you easily distracted by your smartphone or social media? Assess whether turning off your phone or leaving it behind enhances your focus. Remember, some students might require their phones or other technological tools for class work.

Developing effective study habits often stems from self-reflection. However, students with executive function deficits might need additional guidance to determine the most effective strategies for them.

Adopting a proactive approach is crucial in college. Seasoned students often caution that a passive “wait and see” attitude can quickly lead to academic difficulty due to the rapid pace and grading structure of college courses. Students should seek support early on, rather than waiting until they encounter serious obstacles.

Get a College Executive Function Coach

Engaging a college success coach can be a transformative step in a student’s academic journey. These coaches offer personalized guidance, customized to each student, and help them navigate the complexities of college life.

Here are some key benefits:

  • Structured Routine and Consistency will make it easier for your child to manage their time and expectations.
  • Enhanced Focus and Prioritization will help your student focus on their immediate and long-term tasks, ensuring they stay on track with their academic goals.
  • Flexible Support tailored to your child’s individual needs will allow for timely assistance and guidance.
  • Effective Planning will make sure your child avoids last-minute rushes and balances their workload effectively.
  • Skill Development will arm your child with essential skills that not only aid in their current studies but will also benefit their future academic and professional endeavors.
  • On-Campus Resource Identification will encourage them to seek help proactively and take advantage of available services, enhancing their learning experience.
  • Academic Monitoring will allow for early detection of any academic issues, enabling timely intervention and support to address challenges.

A college success coach not only aids in academic achievement but will also contribute to personal development and career readiness.

Final Thoughts

Navigating college with learning disabilities like executive function deficits can be tough due to the demanding schedule, independence, and social scene. To succeed, students need a strategic plan. This includes choosing classes wisely, developing strong study habits with routines and self-control, and cultivating focus by identifying preferred study spaces and times. Proactive support is key, so consider a college success coach for personalized guidance, structured routines, and skill development for both academic and future success.


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Sending Your Child Back to College with Executive Function Deficits?
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