students with ADD/ADHD

As you guide your senior student through their final college decisions, you might have some thoughts on the next phase of their educational careers, and how they will fare in their new environment.

For students with ADD/ADHD, and some executive functioning deficits, college is a challenging combination. With more complex schedules, rigorous courses, independence, seemingly more free time in between classes, social activities, and living away from home – many for the first time, there are opportunities to become overwhelmed and stressed at every step.

However, college is also an opportunity for personal growth and academic achievement. With the right strategies and support, students with ADD/ADHD, indeed any student, can overcome their challenges and thrive in college.

This guide, the first of a three-part beginning-of-the-month series, will be useful for every college-bound student, but especially for those with ADD/ADHD.

Resolve to Manage Time and Use a Planner

In college, student schedules vary each day and often feature considerable periods of unstructured unscheduled time. Establishing an efficient method of managing time, prioritizing, and planning is crucial to prevent squandering hours and reducing productivity.

Professors don’t usually remind students of upcoming assignments and deadlines. It is assumed that their students will take responsibility and stay on top of their work by checking the course website and reviewing the syllabus.

To keep themselves accountable and on track, we strongly recommend that students get their syllabus even before they step foot on campus. The goal is to create a term-long calendar that includes important dates, deadlines, activities, and responsibilities. Everything should be included on the calendar even social events, such as fraternity/sorority rush, and football games.

Once the basic calendar has been constructed, it should be maintained regularly, if not daily. This will help the student stay on top of assignments and allow them to time-shift during challenging weeks.

Dos and Don’ts

Here are some common dos and don’ts of planning and managing time.

Frequent time management mistakes students make are:

  1. Underestimate how long reading and studying takes
  2. Think that there is so much time in between classes to complete an assignment
  3. Not having total clarity on their goals and tasks.
  4. Not having total clarity on the assignment and what is required
  5. Being half-focused while studying.
  6. Not prioritizing their tasks.
  7. Not planning long-term projects right.
  8. Feeling they have so much work to do, they don’t know where to start, and as a result, don’t start anything.
  9. Not using a planner!

For students with ADD/ADHD, and indeed any student, here are some easy ways to get started with planning and using time management:

  1. Review and update your planner daily.
  2. Prioritize tasks based on their level of importance and deadline.
  3. Break down larger tasks and assignments into smaller more manageable ones and schedule them in the planner
  4. Avoid putting off tasks until the last minute, as this can lead to stress and a lower quality of work.
  5. Use tools and reminders that work, such as apps and software.
  6. Be realistic and flexible with one’s schedule.
  7. Don’t wait until the last minute to get support. If it is needed, ask for it.

If using a planner and managing time is a new concept for your student, consider sending them to a Study Skills/Executive Function class before they leave for school.

By effectively managing their time, students can prioritize their tasks, achieve better grades, decrease stress, increase productivity, and prepare themselves for more effective, efficient study practice.

Supporting Your Student

For more tips to help students with ADD/ADHD excel in their studies, check out our blog.

Sending your student to college in the fall? Send them with the tools they need to be successful.
Learn more: Crash Course in College Study Skills

Sometimes, college students need a little extra support in time management, prioritization, organization, and study skills. Our Success in College program will set up your student for academic success from the moment they attend their first class to when they take their finals and hand in their last term paper.
Learn more: The Success in College Program

A Guide to Surviving College for Students with ADD/ADHD and Executive Function Challenges: Part 1. Planning