Categories: Mental Health

How To Cope With ADHD At College

As someone with ADHD, I know what it’s like to live with ADHD at college. I’m not going to lie to you, it is hard at first. Especially if you don’t realize that your ADHD is making it hard for you regardless of whether or not you’ve been diagnosed. This is my third year at college which means that this will be my third year living with ADHD at college, so I’ve got at least two years of experience to share with you. I hope that this helps anyone who’s looking for guidance, but I advise to only use this as a starting point in your journey to handling ADHD at college.

1. Recognize

The first step in figuring out what works best for you is recognizing that your ADHD is a part of your problems. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD since I was five and my recognizable symptoms included hyperactivity, a short attention span, and the ability to be easily distracted. As I got older I thought that I’d grown out of ADHD since I no longer heavily showed those symptoms in middle or high school.

When I got to college, however, a whole new set of symptoms arrived: anxiety, an inability to multitask, and difficulty processing my emotions. The only problem was I didn’t realize that these symptoms were because of my ADHD.

2. Research

This is a vital asset in figuring out how to handle having ADHD at college. As I stated above I didn’t realize my new symptoms were symptoms of ADHD, and that’s because there’s a lot of misinformation about ADHD. It’s been called a “kid’s disease” and most assume that you grow out of it, but that’s not typically the case.

With a new environment, such as college, new challenges arise that may not have been there before. I began researching ADHD and all of its symptoms and as I began piecing all the clues together I realized I hadn’t grown out of it, but rather it had grown with me.

Once you recognize your symptoms and understand them it becomes easier to handle your ADHD at college. Now you know that it is not just you, there is in fact a reason for it, a culprit.

3. Symptoms

There are so many ADHD symptoms that it seems as though the list may never end. The funny thing about the symptoms too is that not everyone who has ADHD as all of them, I don’t think anyone could have all of them, but everyone who has ADHD does have a handful of symptoms.

I’ve explained my handful above, and could someone else have that same handful? Yes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that those symptoms will affect them in the same way. That’s the other funny thing about ADHD, everyone is unique in their experience with it. No two experiences are the same.

There may be similarities and you may be able to relate to another person and even swap “notes”, but everyone is different. Always remember that you are unique, but not alone.

4. Coping Mechanisms

Once you’ve recognized and research your symptoms you might be wondering well what do I do now? There is no cure to ADHD, there is only learning to live with it. I’ve discovered that once you understand this it actually becomes more manageable to handle your ADHD at college and in regular adult life.

Coping mechanisms are a large help in that department. I’ll offer some of the tricks I use in my personal experience with having ADHD at college because they might be helpful and you might be able to use them too!

Make a to-do list! They are honestly lifesavers when it comes to keeping track of everything, and I don’t just mean for the day. I make to-do lists for the week. I add to it as the week progresses and if I realize I’m not able to complete a day’s list then I can choose what to prioritize and move the lower priority task to the next day’s list. I’m able to stay on top of homework, and make sure I take enough time for just myself too!

If one of your symptoms happens to be anxiety, like me, then looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself that “Everything is going to be okay. You’re fine.” might be helpful. I’m prone to feeling anxious a lot, sometimes about the smallest things, and then not being able to do anything else until I’ve fixed the problem.

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Sometimes just taking the time to remind myself that everything is fine helps me calm down enough to realize that I can fix my own problem and move on. Everyone needs to hear those words every once in a while anyway, so even if you don’t have ADHD still tell yourself those words!

5. Medication

The last thing that I know will help you deal with ADHD at college is medication. Whether you’ve already been prescribed, or have been considering talking to your doctor about getting a prescription don’t forget to take it once you have it. The medication is meant to help you, and it does.

I took medication all throughout elementary school and then decided to stop taking it once I got to middle school. Granted I did fine in middle and high school grade-wise, but I know now that I may have done better if I’d continued to take the medication.

When I got to college and began recognizing the symptoms I talked to my doctor and got prescribed my medication again. I’ve been doing even better than I already was in my college classes and in life.

Dealing with ADHD at college doesn’t have to be hard. There are ways to make it easier on yourself such as those above. Remember this is your first stepping stone to living with ADHD at college happily.

Recognize, research, and reach out! Share your experiences and helpful tips with us down in the comments below.

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Kaylyn Fountain

Hello! I'm Kaylyn a junior at Pace University (PLV) majoring in Digital Cinema and Filmmaking! I love being a film major because it's allowed me to let my creative side free and that includes writing, which I've loved my whole life. Besides being a film major I am also the fiction editor for my university's literary and arts magazine, Alinea.

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