Choosing a College When You Have ADHD

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Students with ADHD may find that the level of support at the college level is quite different from what they experienced in high school. While all colleges are required to offer disability services, the type and intensiveness of these services can vary dramatically from one school to the next.

It can be helpful to look for a school that offers strong support for students with ADHD. By researching your options early on, you may have a better experience and find stronger ADHD resources to support your educational journey.

Many students with ADHD go to typical colleges without supports and are able to function well. However, there are also students with ADHD who benefit tremendously from a school or support services specifically geared to help them achieve their highest potential.

Schools That Support Students With ADHD

Several schools are specifically designed for students with ADHD. If you or your child have severe symptoms or prefer to be in a smaller, more supportive setting with staff who truly understand ADHD, one of these schools may be for you.

These are just three of the accredited schools that are specifically intended to support students with ADHD:

  • Beacon College is an accredited college that offers degrees exclusively for students with ADHD.
  • Landmark College is a fully accredited two- and four-year degree-granting institution designed for students with learning disabilities and ADHD.
  • The Metamorphosis Coaching Program at Lynn University addresses specific executive functioning issues experienced by college students with ADHD.

You don’t have to narrow your search to include just these colleges, however, as there are other options available to make college a successful time for you.

Spend time researching the schools you are considering to determine how they will best meet your needs.

It is important to be thoughtful in your approach to college. Understanding what's available can help you make the best choice for your needs and goals. Here are two resource guides that may be helpful during the search phase:

  • K&W Guide to Colleges: For Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders

Evaluate Your Needs

It is important to start by thinking about the type of things that you might need to succeed in college. Understanding what you plan do to and how you are going to go about achieving it can help you stay motivated to continue. Some things to ask yourself include:

  • Do you know what you want to major in?
  • Do you need individual support from your teachers?
  • Do you need a busy, vibrant environment?
  • Do you need structure and support to stay on task?

Knowing what you want to study can be helpful since you might start to lose focus or interest if you are still figuring things out. Talking to a guidance counselor can be helpful if you're not quite sure what you want to pursue.

ADHD Support Services

There are support services available for students with learning disabilities at many colleges. The quality and extent of these services, however, varies from school to school. Be sure to contact the disability support office at each of the schools you are considering to find out about the level of support they provide.

The support office may be referred to by a number of names depending on the school. Some things to search for include:

  • Office of Student Disability Services
  • Disability Support
  • Office of Disabled Student Services
  • Learning Support Services

What to Ask

As you are looking at colleges, there are a few questions to ask when you contact the disability support office at each school. They'll give you a better idea of the type of support the school offers for students who have ADHD.

Ask About Staff

It is important to learn more about the staff the school has available to support the needs of students of ADHD. Ask questions about their qualifications, training, and experience. Examples of questions you might ask include:

  • Is the director of disability support services a specialist in ADHD and/or learning disabilities (LD)?
  • How many ADHD specialists work with the program full time?
  • Are ADHD specialists also available for ongoing counseling, guidance, and support?
  • Is there a physician at student health who has experience treating and prescribing medication for ADHD?
  • Does the office have a listing of professionals in the area who are experienced in treating ADHD?

Ask About What They Offer

In addition to learning more about the qualifications of the professionals who work in the support office, you should also ask more about what type of services they offer. Each program is different, so it is important to see if they will be able to meet your specific needs. Examples of questions you might ask include:

  • How many students with ADHD does the support program serve?
  • Is there a formal ADHD support group available for students on campus?
  • Does the school offer specialized academic advising for students with ADHD and LD?
  • What kinds of specific accommodations does the school offer?
  • Do they offer students with ADHD early registration in order to choose preferred courses and professors?
  • Does support help to communicate each student’s needs to the appropriate professors?
  • Is specialized tutoring available for students with ADHD and LD?
  • Are study skills, time management, and organizing classes available specifically for students with ADHD?

Talk to Other Students

You may also want to ask to meet with one or two ADHD students enrolled in the school who currently receive disability support services. They are often the best resource for practical information about the strengths and weaknesses of the program.

Online forums and discussion boards can sometimes be another useful source of information. Consider checking the school's Facebook page or any pages or websites devoted to the disability support offices. You can get a better idea of the types of things they have to offer and sometimes find comments written by students who currently attend the school.

A Word From Verywell

If you have ADHD, taking a proactive approach when selecting a school can help set you up for success. Choosing a school can be difficult, but thinking about your needs and doing some research is a great place to start. If you still aren't sure, consider taking a tour of the school to see what they have to offer. Trust your instincts and remember that support is available.

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Article Sources
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  1. The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences, 13th Edition: 350 Schools with Programs Or Services for Students with ADHD Or Learning Disabilities. (2016). United States: Random House Children's Books.

  2. Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities Or Attention Deficit Disorders. (2000). United States: Peterson's.

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