Many students have difficulty making the transition from high school to college. For college freshmen with Attention Deficit Disorder, these difficulties may be magnified by some of the negative symptoms of ADD. Problems with inattention need to be addressed for a successful first year of college. For college freshmen one of the most problematic expressions of this negative trait of ADD impacts daily living. They can be forgetful in their daily activities. Poor organization in the day-to-day life of a college student can have a major impact on the studentís classes.
The first stop for a struggling student with ADD should be a visit to the Student Services office. They have years of experience in working with new freshmen. Counselors and peer mentors are often available to help sort things out. The college will have programs in place to help. Students will also need to take some steps of their own to help themselves. After all, college is one of the places where a young person can learn self-awareness and how to rely on their unique creativity. Below are suggested strategies for helping to correct some problems that ADD and inattention brings to the fledgling academic.
Being forgetful in daily activities-Back at home, many students had parents who gave them daily cues, as needed, to help them figure out what to do. Away at college, these students need to figure out how to do this on their own.
*If you take medication, find a safe place to store it. Make sure that you have a reliable supply. Then, take it at the same time each day.
*Any routine that you have done to increase attention needs to continue. Make a conscious effort to work it in. These might include yoga, tai chi, journaling, or meditation.
*Brainstorm some ways to cue yourself. These could include notes posted where they are visible, computer calendar reminders, and watch or cell phone alarms.
*First, figure out what your parents nagged you about on a daily basis. Write those things down. Now, start at the beginning of the day and go through it step-by-step. What responsibilities do you have? Write them down. Make a daily timeline and blend your lists. Schedule each item.
*List your weekly tasks that need to be done. If you donít have classes on weekends, schedule most of that time for weekly chores and projects that are coming up. The weekend is a good time to do those weekly tasks like laundry, shopping, and any cleaning that needs to be done in your room. Be sure to schedule recreational time in, too.
Poor organization in day-to-day life -This goes beyond daily living and flows into academics. A student who has not organized his life around attending class and studying for those classes faces an uphill battle academically.
*Make a notebook with places for handouts for each class and lab that you have. I like multi-subject spiral notebooks with pocket dividers to hold handouts. You can also use binders with pockets. Make the notebooks and get your materials placed in them. Make sure that the class syllabus is in there, too. If you canít find that elusive syllabus, borrow one and copy it. Be sure to get the borrowed copy back to the original owner. As a last resort, ask your professor for a replacement copy.
*Buy an academic calendar or make one on your computer. Itís okay if it is not all on one page. Show all of the days in your grading period. Get all of your syllabi together and write the due dates on your calendar for the papers and projects that you have been assigned. As additional assignments are given by your instructors, add them onto the calendar immediately. Put the calendar in a protected and visible place. It should be a visual reminder several times a day.
*For each paper or project that you identified, make a timeline showing how you will complete it. Break each project into logical and manageable chunks and assign due dates. Try to work on one project to completion. This is not always practical. You may have multiple projects and papers going on at once. Consciously figure out the best way for you to work on them, so that you do not get overwhelmed. Reward yourself for meeting your deadlines and completing work in a timely manner. Use that wonderful ADD creativity to think of rewards that you find meaningful! Do not overlook the power of rewards. Research has shown that they are effective in increasing attention.
*Keep your study materials in a designated place. That seems simple, but requires constant vigilance, so that chaos doesnít take over!
* Do what you need to do to stay organized. If it requires a Monday-Wednesday-Friday backpack and a different Tuesday-Thursday backpack, then buy the extra backpack. It is not a luxury if it keeps your study materials organized.
*Ask for help before you become desperate. If you are having trouble, get a tutor. Most schools have free tutoring centers. When you get behind in a class, you feel desperate. When you feel desperate, you avoid thinking about the class. Then, your life spins totally out of control, and you get further behind.
Many students who have ADD have a rough time starting college. Each student can use organizational strategies to help make their college life better. If you are one of these students, it takes time, energy, and persistence to keep everything going smoothly. Getting organized also takes forgiving yourself for the problems that youíve had, moving on with your new routines, and rewarding your efforts to stay organized and on top of your classes.