Success for Students with ADHD
Let’s Focus: 5 School Success Strategies for College Students with ADHD
Approximately 25% of college students with disabilities are diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, Sarkis, n.d.). This is approximately 8% of the college student population. Disability Services supports a significant number of Georgia State students who experience ADHD. In 2017, 53.5% of students registered with Disability Services had an ADHD diagnosis.
The most prevalent form of ADHD is combined type which is characterized by impulsiveness, inattentiveness and distractibility. Because of the deficits in maintaining attention, staying focused during lectures, working on class activities, planning to study for exams, organizing notes and course materials and meeting deadlines for upcoming assignments can all be particularly challenging for students with ADHD. Disability Services recognizes the limitations that students with ADHD have and provides services and resources to mitigate their academic challenges so that they can progress towards graduation. Students can register with the department and request academic accommodations which help remove barriers to their learning and give them equal access to course instruction, materials and evaluation. Examples of some accommodations that students with ADHD may receive include extended time on tests, testing in a distraction reduced environment, course materials in an electronic format etc.. Georgia State students with ADHD can also benefit from utilizing academic coaching services being offered by Disability Services which help them improve their study skills.
To encourage school success for students with ADHD, Disability Services has compiled the following useful strategies:
- Identify the distractions and create the best learning environment. Some students need silence to focus. Others may find that a lack of noise breaks their ability to stay on task. It is important to evaluate what kind of environment is conducive to studying and for overall productivity. Additionally, the student should identify which time of the day is most effective for good studying habits.
- Take breaks. It is good for the student to time themselves as they work on assignments or study so that the task does not seem long and overwhelming. For example, rather than studying for 3-4 hours without stops, a student can study for a set amount of time (ex. one hour), take a break, and then continue studying. Taking short, scheduled breaks that are set on an alarm or on a timer may help to re-energize the student’s academic efforts. The use of the alarm or timer can also help the student remember that once the break is over, it is time to get back to work.
- Get moving. Being restless is common among many college students with ADHD. It is useful for a student to find a location where they can move around in a chair or pace back and forth.
- Use a Smartphone. Smartphones are powerful yet simple and effective tools to eliminate distractions and increase organizational efforts. With the touch of a few buttons, students with ADHD can place their phone on airplane mode and set alarms or alerts to complete tasks. A student who has trouble staying focused can also put important dates on their phone’s calendar to help them plan for upcoming assignments or tests (e.g. three weeks before Biology exam). Inputting key dates can help students keep up with tasks, allow students to break down tasks into smaller chunks, and prevent students from waiting until the last minute to start and complete tasks.
- Make Lists. Research indicates that students with ADHD have difficulty in prioritizing (Dipeolu, 2011). Students can prioritize important tasks from those that do not yet require immediate attention. By creating lists or purchasing a planner, students with ADHD can keep track of what needs to be done and check off what has been completed.
Georgia State students who have a diagnosis of ADHD and need additional information about services or resources that are available for them can contact Disability Services to find out more.