Finals. Are. Over. Finally! Your kid has caught up on the sleep they lost from late-night cramming and is now home to eat all your food and do weeks-old (months even?) laundry. Amidst the family and holiday events, be sure to find quiet time to reflect on this past semester with your student.
At the Center for Living Well with ADHD, this is often the time when students get diagnosed with ADHD or reach out for support for the first time (especially during the first year of college). Know that if the fall semester didn’t go well, you’re not alone! Below are ways you and/or your student can plan for a more ADHD-friendly spring semester.
- Register with the Office of Disability Services. Even if your student believes they won’t use accommodations, registration might come in handy for the new semester with new professors and teaching styles. Having the relationship officially established can mean a mid-semester accommodation is fulfilled much quicker.
- Live on campus. Being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of school can help to keep students on track. Seeing a professor on campus can prompt their memory of an upcoming test. Talking to peers about a class project can help your student get clarity on their next steps. If your student has had a hard time getting to class or has trouble getting to the grocery store because they live further away, a change in their living location could make a huge difference. (And don’t be afraid to ask what it will take to break a lease — a change in location can be crucial to their success).
- Register for fewer classes. If last semester was challenging, reducing the total amount of homework your student has to keep track of can be very helpful. When students are starting their first year of college, coaches will often recommend starting with two classes. A nice balance is one that they find interesting and one that will challenge them.
- Study with friends more. For students with ADHD, it can be especially difficult to get started and/or persist on homework by themselves, alone, in their rooms. Being out and around people gives us dopamine (which ADHD brains are in a shorter supply of), and dopamine helps us focus. Even just sitting next to a classmate who is also working on homework (body-doubling) can be the difference between finishing homework versus not starting it at all in their dorm room.
- Join an athletic club. Just like being around people, exercise gives our brains a boost of dopamine, making it easier to focus and feel good about ourselves. Student-athletes in high school can tell the difference when they do homework after team practice versus before. If your student has had a hard time getting exercise (as exercising alone can be critically boring to ADHD brains), have them make it social!
And lastly, recognize the answer may not be more college. It is quite common for families to reach out to the Center after their student had a particularly tough time at college and is now taking a break. Taking the time to get diagnosed, find effective medications, and get professional support for ADHD and/or mental health can be a crucial step for future success. There are many post-high school options where ADHD young adults can thrive like trade schools, getting work experience through internships, or expanding the business their entrepreneurial brain started in high school. College is just one of many fulfilling options!
We hope that your student can find what works best for their brain and future goals. If they’d like support in figuring that out, many coaches at the Center specifically work with college students and young adults transitioning to life on their own. Reach out! We’re always happy to help.
Riley Karbon, PCAC
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach