Looking at colleges and trying to decide which one is best for you (or your college-aged child) is overwhelming, especially when you have ADHD. You might not be sure what is important or what resources you are going to need to help you succeed. You might not know what problems are going to arise. Or maybe you are simply overwhelmed with all choices.
ADHD doesn’t make graduating from college impossible. Many people with ADHD are highly successful, even if high school was a struggle. It does, however, cause some difficulties. College requires time management, organization and focus. It requires many of the executive functioning skills those with ADHD find difficult. Finding an ADHD-friendly college can increase your chances of success.
But how do you know if a college is ADHD-friendly? Some people find it helpful to keep a notebook of all their college choices, with notes and information for each. This can help you to compare the services, resources and college life to determine which is best for you. The following questions can help you gather the information.
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- Is there someone in the support services (or disability office) who works as a specialist for students with ADHD? How long has this person been working at the college?
- What type of training/education does the faculty receive on working with students with ADHD?
- How many students with ADHD are registered with the disability office? (The more, the better fit for you)
- What procedures are in place to deal with a professor who is resistant to accommodations?
- Are there special programs in place to help students with ADHD? (study groups, support groups, helping freshman adjust to college life, etc.)
- Is there a physician on staff who can prescribe medication? Are there therapists available for ADHD students? If not, does the college provide a list of nearby medical facilities that specialize in ADHD?
- How large is the typical class? What is the student/teacher ratio? (The smaller the class size the more individualized attention)
- What are some typical accommodations offered for students with ADHD?
- Does the college work on semester, trimester or quarters? If you quickly lose interest in a class, trimesters or quarters might work best for you. If you like to spend time exploring a subject, semesters might be best.
- Are classes offered at a variety of times so you can set up your schedule based on your "internal body clock?"
- Do professors provide online access to the syllabus, class notes or other pertinent information?
- How many classes are offered in your career interest? If you don’t yet know your career interest, is there a wide variety of majors available for you to choose from?
- Are skills or interest assessments available?
- How closely does the academic advisor work with individual students?
- Is the school located in a rural or city environment? If you need a high-energy environment, will a rural location cause boredom? If you become easily overwhelmed is a city environment going to be too distracting?
- Are private rooms available? If you have trouble falling asleep, like staying up late to study or think it will be too distracting to have a roommate, a private room might be a better option.
- What types of activities are available on campus? Are these activities that interest you?
Once you have visited several schools, you can compare your answers to these questions and choose the college that will best fit your needs.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.