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People-Focused Ways to Ensure a Great Semester

We’ve all heard about miracle planners or specific highlighter colors that can *magically* build executive function skills, but they often get left behind by ADHDers when the novelty wears off. As a coach, I find college students have greater success when they consistently seek help from people, not objects. Here are some people-focused ways to start the semester strong that you’ll thank yourself for doing later:

1. Meet with Disability/Accessibility Services

This part of the college is called different names, but it’s there to support students in their learning. Often they will need a copy of your official ADHD diagnosis to start, and then the doors open for different school supports. This could mean getting slides from professors before the class begins, special software that turns written text into speech, a distraction-free room to take tests, priority registration for next semester’s classes…and more! 

It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you need at the beginning of the school year, but having the meeting will be good so you can find out what’s available and then already have an established relationship when you need to ask for help later on. 

2. Meet with your professors!

I can’t stress this one enough. I have seen professors literally move mountains to help students pass a class, even when they miss over half their homework and have failed the midterm. I see them being incredibly lenient and helpful (like the previous example) when they know what a student is dealing with upfront. The meeting doesn’t have to be formal, but a time for you one-on-one to introduce yourself, tell them you’re excited to learn from them, and let them know you’re working on managing your ADHD and know it can sometimes show up in your learning. 

Again, it’ll be easier to ask for that paper extension (and more likely to be granted) if they have the context to know why you might be asking. I once had a grad student who confessed to a professor how hard it was for him to write papers, and she told him to skip the final essay and instead have a final “conversation” with her to prove what he had learned in the class. It went so well that he asked for this accommodation from then on. 

3. Notice the studious students around you

I remember a college student of mine always “pulled off” studying for finals by mimicking his studious engineering friend’s schedule. Whenever the friend went to the library, he went to the library. Whenever the friend left a social activity during finals to go to bed, so did my client. It took the decision-making out of the equation and worked for my client. 

Notice your friends and classmates; who seem to be on top of their homework? Who’s got a plan that keeps them less stressed before a test? Consider trying out their plan and see how parts of it might work for you! 

You don’t have to grit your teeth or deal with overwhelming stress to get through college, nor should you! Meeting with and being around people gives us dopamine and allows us to think out loud and find creative solutions that work for our brains. By engaging the above people early in the semester, you’re setting yourself up to end well. 

Riley Karbon PCAC

Riley Karbon, PCAC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach