“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
With the Fall 2021 semester kicking off for my fellow college students and me, I am reflecting on all of the things I have learned to make my life easier as a student with ADHD. These are all things that I had to learn the hard way and would recommend to ANY college student, regardless of being a freshman or a senior. Of course, these are not exclusive to students with ADHD, although if you do have ADHD, they will make your life a heck of a lot easier.
- Request Accommodations ASAP!!!
I cannot tell you how many students I meet who have a professional ADHD diagnosis or high school accommodations. Yet, they did NOT try to get accommodations at their university or community college. This leaves me utterly flabbergasted. As someone professionally diagnosed with ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder, I get a few super helpful accommodations from my college. For example, I am given double time for my tests, and I am allowed to take my tests in a private testing room that I can book for a few hours, free of charge. I also get preferential seating in the classroom, meaning I get to choose where I sit to get the most out of my class lectures. I also received access to the PowerPoints used in class by the professors if I could not write down an important piece of information presented in class because I was writing too slow or got otherwise distracted.
In terms of getting accommodations, extensions, or extra help, I like to remember the mantra “you don’t know if you don’t ask.” This relates to learning to advocate for yourself, something that everyone needs to learn before setting out on their own in life. This is especially true for people with special needs and mental illnesses who learn differently from our peers and need flexibility from our professors to learn in ways that work for us.
Check out my post about my recent experience with self-advocation in relation to my ADHD by clicking the link below!
Related: Don’t Be Afraid to Advocate For Yourself!
- Go To ALL Office Hours and Tutoring Opportunities
You know how your professors and TAs put “office hours” on their syllabi with those time slots right next to them? Yeah, those are not just there to make the paper look prettier. You are meant to go to those. Most professors I have had have said that they REALLY wished more students would come to their office hours because they were struggling with concepts that the professor could easily explain if they were brought to their attention BEFORE exams and important assignment deadlines.
Also, spending extra time outside of class on a professor’s content and assignments will show them that you care about the quality of your work and your grade in the course and are more likely to extend a deadline or round a grade up for you than for a student who barely ever shows up and never speaks up with questions.
- Do Any and All Extra Credit Assignments
This is one of my favorite parts of college courses: the great opportunities to receive extra credit. Extra credit assignments are the perfect boost to your lower grades or can even raise your final average. Unfortunately, with so many assignments and due dates constantly flowing into your inbox and university portal page, you are bound to overlook one or two assignments among the sea of to-dos weighing down on you.
Sometimes you miss an assignment (or two) and feel that you are walking a thin line between the grade you really want to have for the class and the lower grade you might end up with. This is when having a few completed extra credit assignments in your arsenal comes in handy. It also shows your professor that you are willing to do additional classwork to improve your grade, and they might be more inclined to give you an additional opportunity to raise your grade to where you want it to be.
- Mark All Assignments In Your Planner/Calendar
I have said this before – people who do not use planners or calendars NEED TO START USING THEM. There is no other way to keep all of your appointments, events, deadlines, and social events all organized and remembered, unless you are Sherlock Holmes or something (and if you are, hi! I am a huge fan of your work!). There are a TON of different planners and calendars to use depending on your lifestyle and the type of deadlines and events you are dealing with most of the time. I strongly recommend creating/inserting a master page for your course deadlines, and if you have a part-time job or similar obligation, making a similar master page for that schedule. Then you can put all of these and your random appointments and social events into a monthly calendar that you check every day.
Something that I have learned over my time in college is that if you think you are done with your assignments or have caught up on everything you need to do, you have probably missed something. Because in college, there is ALWAYS something due. Always.
If you do not know a lot about planners and calendars and are wondering which kind is right for you, check out my post about different types of planners by clicking the link below!
Related: 3 Different Kinds of Planners to Try – Keep Your Life Organized!
- Shut Yourself Off From Distractions
I think of ADHD as the mindset of being constantly distracted. ADHDers are acutely aware of every sound, smell, and visual in any room we are in. It feels kind of like how Superman or other superheroes with super-senses can hear people talking in a building three blocks away, except ADHDers do not have as big of a range. We cannot pick up on the individual sounds or smells. It is just an overwhelming wave of stimulation that we are subconsciously aware of at all times.
This is why it is sometimes so hard to study effectively in busy environments with ADHD. For example, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down, I had difficulty studying on campus in the cafeteria, which was always bustling with activity. As a result, I would be twice as exhausted and drained once I finished than if I studied in the study hall or designated study tables in the library.
This is true for things other than environment. For example, it is harder to concentrate on the task you are meant to do when you have a TON of extra tabs open on your computer or have your phone easily accessible to you when trying to focus on an assignment. Also, if you are taking notes by hand or do not NEED to have the computer on, I suggest turning it off so you are not tempted to turn on a YouTube video or recheck your emails for the third time in the last hour.
Be kind to your brain, and it will be good to you.
I hope you enjoyed this list! What are some tips and tricks you have for college students who have ADHD? Leave them in the comments down below! I love to hear from you all. I am praying for all of us students all to have a productive semester full of new experiences to shine and share our unique perspectives with the world.
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Until next time!