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15 Tips to Help Teens with ADHD Transition to College


Leaving high school. Got into college. Ready to step out into the real world. Guess what? Just 5% of college students with ADHD graduate. There are ways to turn things around.

College students with ADHD make up between 2% to 8% of the student body. Unfortunately, they are less likely to feel confident in being successful. Their greater emotional and psychological challenges result in greater alcohol and drug use. Researchers continue to work to discover why.

The symptoms of ADHD impact their education in many ways. The biggest challenge is reading comprehension. Their overall grades are lower because they are more likely to need to read material repeatedly to understand it. These often result in them being more likely to be on academic probation.

Students with ADHD often rely on their parents in high school. Transitioning to college, they are often unable to handle that responsibility. They are expected to manage academic accommodations themselves. To make the process more smooth, students should take responsibility in high school. Moving to college can be a stressful process for everyone involved but using something like Boombox Storage can help make the start of the next year, after the summer break, an easier one as it means you don’t have to haul all of your belongings from home back and forth all the time.

  • Inform that they do not receive services for “difference” and “weakness.”
  • Don’t practice learning without accommodations in senior year of high school.
  • Participate in IEP meetings and transition planning.
  • Identify strengths, challenges, and learning styles.
  • Teach self-advocacy skills explicitly.
    • Practice.
    • Refine.
    • Integrate.

Self-advocation is a skill that can be taught at home as well. The most important lesson is to teach them to say, “I have a disability.” They must understand ADHD and how it impacts them academically and as an individual.

Self-identity provides students opportunities to better understand their accommodations. Teachers and tutors can support identifying academic and personal strengths. Education consultants can provide recommendations on college needs and class accommodations they would benefit from.

  • Organize using planners, calendars, Outlook.
  • Ensure that the disability documentation is up-to-date.
  • Consider attending a pre-college summer program.
  • Understand medication.
  • Research alternative behavioral interventions.

Choosing which college to attend plays a critical role in transitioning. The process of selecting a college should be customized. Begin with evaluating what happened in high school. It’s easy to look at grades. The trick is answering the deeper questions. Why did he/she get a good grade? Why was there a bad one? Remember to answer the who. Understanding the relationship with the teacher is key.

Looking for the right match is another step. Providing general services for students with disabilities is great. However, base decisions upon ADHD specifically. The college should provide specialists. Registered students should be networked. Support groups are beneficial.

Only 40% of college students with ADHD say that they were offered enough accommodations. Keep in mind, they are responsible for their own services. Therefore these inadequacies may result from the student’s limited preparedness. The college is not required to ask.

  • Request additional time for assignments and tests.
  • Provide preferential seating in test settings.
  • Test over several sessions.
  • Get permission to record lectures.
  • Discuss the possibility of class substitution.

Teachers, parents, and students with ADHD should use past and present experiences to make college decisions. Doctors should also be consulted as medication is less likely to be effective under stress. Disclosing ADHD diagnosis will support “our kids” as they stand alone in their new environments.

Begin the process early. Document your steps for an easier trip.

What’s your biggest concern about your child and college?


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    I am almost 62. I wish there were things like this when I went to High school.

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Welcome. I love being able to share knowledge and experiences. My fellow teachers want to have a voice that goes beyond the classroom. My parents want to support others.

      Sign up for our mail list to stay tuned to our community.

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