Three School Suggestions for ADHD College students
The college tests time management, stress management, and organizational skills of young adults – three times as much for students with ADHD and leadership challenges. Assignments, interim, and thesis assignments seem so far away at the start of each semester, but they often surprise students as they juggle the college’s academic, social, and extracurricular commitments.
No matter your schedule this semester, following these three basic college tips can mean the difference between success and stress.
College Tips for Students with ADHD
1. Make a calendar – and stick with it
Most freshmen quickly realize that it is entirely up to them to create their own routines and stick to a schedule. (Which probably wasn’t the case in high school.)
Use the calendar function of your university e-mail account to map your personal timetable at the beginning of the semester. It takes a bit of time and sustained attention, but if you do it now, you will save yourself many stressful hours over the course of the semester.
With the calendar open to view the week, do the following:
- Create recurring events (with notifications) for all personal and / or synchronous class meetings. The lesson times and dates can be found in each curriculum.
- Make a note of the due dates for the interim, final, and major assignments of each course. Highlight these events in a color that catches your eye so you can easily tell when they are coming up.
- Block 90-minute to 2-hour homework blocks several times a week. Don’t know when to do homework? Think realistically: When do you feel most productive? Is it late in the morning Right after class? After dinner?
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Now that you’ve set your academic (and personal) schedule, it’s important to actually refer to your calendar.
- Check your calendar every morning. That way, you’re more likely to stick to your schedule. Link your school email to your phone so you can see your calendar events there too.
- Make changes consciously. If you skip a work session, reschedule it by clicking the event and dragging it to a new day and time.
- On your first scheduled work session, spend a few minutes each week scrolling forward on your calendar to see what’s coming up. That way, you can see what to prioritize this week and the next.
2. Treat tasks like study sessions
Most of your work and exams are based on lectures and lectures. Often times, students rush through the weekly assignments and then cram the day before an exam or essay deadline.
Treat each “small” assignment as a chance to prepare for these high profile exams to avoid cramming. You benefit in two ways:
- They understand the course material or have the opportunity to ask questions in advance. This will help you stay engaged in the classroom and will give you a stronger foundation as you take higher-level courses.
- Preparing for exams and projects becomes less stressful. Instead of cramming all night, you’ll have productive writing or meeting sessions as you approach these reviews.
Here are some study strategies you can use:
[Read: Surviving Semester’s End]
For classes with essays or research papers
- Download the readings every week and save them in a folder on your desktop. (Or some other easily accessible place like Google Drive.) That way, when you need to find citations to quote, you won’t waste time trying to find the articles again.
- Complete the readings on time and take notes at each reading to summarize key ideas and key supportive details. When you have a research paper, write down sections that you want to cite.
- When given the assignment, make an outline and check your sources for the citations that you will be using before you start writing. If your school has a writing center, schedule an appointment for guidance on how to organize your work.
For classes with midterms and finals
- Treat weekly assignments as a chance to test your understanding of the material. Ask questions in class or schedule a meeting with the professor if you’re having trouble.
- Take notes in class to help you stay focused (or refocus if you’re distracted). Write down your professor’s key points and examples shared. Listen for clues about what the professor thinks is most important and / or will include on the exam.
- Attend optional review or test prep sessions. You can also form a study group with a few classmates.
3. Take care of yourself
It is important to balance your work time and downtime. Running empty harms both.
- Aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night. Everything works better when you’re rested, including memory and impulse controls.
- Avoid dramatic shifts in your schedule. If you have class at 9:00 am during the week, sleeping after noon creates “social jet lag” every weekend that makes it harder to concentrate. Strive for moderation in your evenings.
- Drink enough. Try to drink eight glasses of water every day. In high school, you might have brought a bottle of water with you. Try it out on campus too.
- Some physical activity every day will benefit your learning and mood.
With these three strategies, remember that in college you will have more independence AND more responsibility. These routines will help you get the most out of your teaching and personal time on campus.
College Tips: Next Steps
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