When it comes to coursework, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may encounter difficulties with managing time, staying organised, coping with distractions and focussing on goals. Typically, these students do better at universities with small class sizes, individual support from their faculty, and opportunities for classroom participation.
There are many hacks that students with ADHD can use to help make university a positive and successful experience. Here are a few suggestions:
Stick to Your Schedule
Schedule study periods. Work in short blocks of time so you can study with your full attention. Tell friends that it’s important for you to stay focussed and avoid chatter during this time. Also avoid returning phone calls, responding to instant messages or answering emails whilst you study.
Try not to change your study times. If one class doesn’t have an assignment on a particular day, study for another class during that time. Remember – always stick to your schedule!
Exercise or play outdoor sports
Thirty minutes of exercise per day, four to five days a week sharpens focus and improves executive functioning. Make sure you block out time each day for exercise and stick to it.
Study Smarter Not Harder
University students with ADHD sometimes find it helpful to record lectures. This allows them to go over confusing points and review various parts of the lecture at their leisure. This reduces the pressure to take constant notes because they know they can go back and revisit the material. Some universities allow students with ADHD to record lectures, while others require students to seek permission from each lecturer. It’s a good idea for students with learning difficulties to let their lecturers know the situation so they can contribute to the students’ success.
Additionally, university students with ADHD can contact a tutor, academic coach, disability services or student services to gain support with slow reading rate, poor comprehension, lack of exam techniques, exam stress, inability to begin or finish papers etc. It’s also a good idea to use visualisation, mapping and mnemonics to improve comprehension and retention. You can also obtain or create sample questions to practice exam taking and to develop speed, accuracy and confidence. Always pick up with your lecturers to discuss performance on assignments and exams.
Prioritise Your Goals
University life can be very demanding, it is crucial to plan and focus on only a few goals at any given time. Prioritse assignments as soon as you receive them, and create a realistic timeline to complete the task. For instance, if you have a paper due in two weeks, block out time to research the subject, create an outline, write the paper and proofread it. Taking time to prioritise your goals for the week can help students with ADHD keep themselves motivated and complete their assignments on time.
Be Your Own Advocate
When you are researching universities during the application process, review their policy and resources for students with disabilities. Don’t be afraid to request adjustments and you can also apply for Disabled Students Allowances (DSA). Make sure you get in touch with Disability Services at your university to discuss support and adjustments.
Study results suggest that mindful meditation can reduce anxiety and detrimental self-focus, promotes social skills and academic success for students with ADHD. Mindfulness teaches you to pay attention to the present moment through simple breathing and meditation practices and helps you to manage your thoughts, feelings and actions. Many universities run sessions on mindfulness and meditation.