ADHD in the College Search
As parents prepare for their children to go off to college, they have many questions. Are their children ready to be on their own? Will they be able to succeed in college with ADHD? Are there some colleges that are better than others for children with ADHD? What should they be looking for in a college?
For some students, college will be their first opportunity to be away from the structure of their home. Parents may have been advocates for them, helping with creating student contracts or obtaining special services. Students may or may not have been involved in this process. So how are parents to know what college will be best and how to help their students succeed in a more independent college environment?
Colleges today are more in tuned to students with special needs. They have more programs in place to assist students with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD. Many colleges have special needs counselors, on campus coaches, and resource centers. Many professors and college administrators are more familiar with ADHD and are more receptive to offering assistance to students struggling with the daily issues resulting from the symptoms of ADHD. Although all of this helps, it is not a guarantee of success.
Parents, however, can help their children choose a college that will increase their chances of success. While searching through college brochures and visiting campuses, keep in mind:
- Determine your child's strengths and weaknesses. Look objectively at what areas they will need special assistance and what areas they will likely excel at. While looking at schools, see what programs may be available to help students in those areas they need extra help in.
- Is your child emotionally mature enough to be away at college? Children with ADHD are often several years behind their peers emotionally. If you are concerned, consider a community college for one to two years to help make a transition from high school to college. Your child can use this time to begin learning self-advocacy and to get a chance to work with professors one on one while still living at home.
- If your child will be going away to college, take the time to find local support groups and student support groups that may be able to help them cope with the daily challenges of college life. In addition, the college may offer student coaching or mentoring to give your child one-on-one help.
- Look into student resource centers. Are books available on tape to allow your child to listen to books as well as read them? Is there a tutoring center? Can students tape classes? Is there a counselor available to help set up accommodations? What information will be needed from your child's high school for the college to continue accommodations?
- If your child takes medication, how easy will it be for them to continue to get their prescription filled?
- Can your child easily monitor their grades and progress in their classes?
- If your child is set on attending a specific school, find out why. Do they have a friend that will be attending or do they believe the school is more prestigious? Talk to them about what they should be looking for in a college such as programs that will help them succeed. Help them to list factors that would be helpful for academics rather than personal.
Once you have visited several colleges and your child has narrowed their choices down, look carefully and objectively at those colleges and help your child choose the one that would provide the best possible services for them. Talk with them about self-advocacy and set up a plan to help them become independent.