Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is usually diagnosed in childhood, but people with ADHD can reach college without having been diagnosed. Adults with ADHD tend to have difficulties with executive functioning and self-regulation.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Symptoms of ADHD are often separated into 3 categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some people with ADHD have most of their symptoms in only one category while others have a variety of symptoms from each category.
Difficulty paying attention or focusing
Poor time management
Difficulty finishing tasks
Disorganized or loses things easily
Prone to making careless mistakes
Inefficient when completing tasks
Difficulty sitting through class
Always on the go
Changes majors frequently
Misses class often
Interrupts others in conversation
Driving too fast or recklessly
If you notice yourself experiencing signs and symptoms of ADHD, consider using some of these coping strategies:
- Place your important belongings such as keys, wallet, and glasses in the same spot (such as a bowl on a table near the door) when you get home so that they are not misplaced.
- Sit in the front of the class where there are fewer distractions.
- Utilize a calendar (such as a planner or a phone app) to schedule appointments, meetings, and classes. Create a routine of checking the calendar regularly or utilize the alerts/reminders function on your phone.
- Break large tasks into small ones to combat procrastination.
- Use a timer to help you keep track of time spent on tasks. When the timer rings, move on to the next task.
- Create a list of reminders for tasks that need to be completed (and when the deadlines are).
- Limit interrupting your tasks by designating a specific time each day for responding to email, text, and phone messages.
- Structure your day. Check your schedule before you take on something new.
- Limit distractions by studying with noise-canceling headphones or leaving your phone in the other room.
- Do schoolwork during times of the day that you are most alert and awake.
- Count to five before you react. Better yet, write down your reaction instead of blurting it out.
- Try a form of exercise that uses the brain, such as yoga, dance, karate, or martial arts.
- When going to class or an appointment, think about the time you have to leave rather than when you have to arrive. For example, if your class starts at 9:00 and it takes you 30 minutes to get there, make 8:30 the important time in your mind.
- Listen to feedback from others. Sometimes people with ADHD have a harder time reading social cues.
- Select the right environment for studying (such as a place with good lighting, a comfortable chair, a large table, and few distractions).
- Seek professional assistance. Consider utilizing the options listed within the Services tab.
If you have been diagnosed with ADHD and are looking for services to treat your symptoms, improve your functioning, and/or receive accommodations, consider the following options:
- Consider talking with your physician or psychiatrist about how medication may be helpful in managing symptoms of ADHD. The University Health Center has physicians and psychiatrists on staff.
- The Counseling Center offers brief individual counseling to help students cope with and manage symptoms of ADHD among other concerns. You can get started with this process by scheduling an intake appointment at the Counseling Center.
- Consider registering with the Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS) on campus in order to determine if accommodations are available to you.
If you believe you may have ADHD and are interested in being evaluated, please contact the Counseling Center for an intake appointment. Although the Counseling Center does not conduct comprehensive ADHD evaluations, our care manager can provide referrals for off-campus professionals with this specialty.
Recommended Resources for College Students with ADHD
Attention Deficit Disorder Association’s comprehensive list of resources
Improve Your Concentration
How to achieve focus when distractions are everywhere
Strategies and support for ADHD and learning disabilities
Attention Deficit Disorder
An introduction to ADHD in adults
HelpGuide.org’s Help for Adult ADD/ADHD
Tips for managing symptoms and getting focused.
National Center on ADHD
The nation's clearinghouse for the latest evidence-based information on ADHD
Succeeding in College with ADHD
National Resource Center on ADHD’s guide for college student success
Study Strategies for Students with ADHD
Information and tips to help college students with ADHD study effectively