Keys to Success at College for Students with ADD

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Can individuals with ADD be successful in college?

Absolutely, many individuals with ADD are very successful in college.

For others, however, ADD significantly compromises the students’ ability to experience the same success. Not only do the expectations for academic performance, independent functioning, and social decision-making dramatically increase in college, this jump occurs far from home away from the support, structure, and monitoring of mom, dad, and the invested high school teacher.

At home, family routines and parents often structure and set limits for sleeping, eating, money management, and social activities.

When a student moves onto the college campus, he must organize his own time, establish and follow his own daily routine, be fully responsible for his basic daily needs, and negotiate the complex college social life involving roommates, parties, drinking, and sex.

Similarly, before college, parents advocate for their ADD child; away from home, the role of advocate transfers to the student. While the ADD child lives at home, most often, parents keep track of medication, call for prescriptions, and remember missed doses. These responsibilities are transferred to the ADD student the day he sets foot on campus.

All of these transferred responsibilities are tremendously challenging for the impulsive and distractible student with poor monitoring and a short attention span. These new roles and responsibilities can be insurmountable for the ADD student who also struggles with a basic awareness and acceptance of his differences.

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

While it can be extremely challenging, college provides the ADD individual with the opportunity to grow in ways he never can if he is living at home.

In my experience, the keys to success for the ADD student in college requires:

  • good self awareness acceptance of ADD
  • treatment compliance
  • a willingness to seek and use support services
  • a commitment to maintaining a healthy daily routine
  • a willingness to work harder than many other students
  • adequate academic skills
  • good study skills and work habits
  • the ability to function independently
  • efficient social skills, good problem-solving
  • and the motivation to succeed


How are you or a college student in your life doing with the success checklist items?  Never be afraid to seek help–college success IS possible with the right tools!