College Living with Attention Deficit Disorder
What is the level of noise that you can tolerate?
People with Attention Deficit Disorder sometimes have sensitivity for noise. If you can’t stand noise, maybe a dorm is not the place for you to live. There are dorms that offer an active social life. Things can be a bit loud, but that’s what many residents signed up for. Other dorms may have extended quiet hours. Your grade point average might be a factor in which dorm you will be living in. Choose your dorm carefully. If you know somebody who goes to your chosen college, ask them about the dorms.
Some schools want to make sure that their freshmen are doing well, and they are required to live in a dorm. There are many different types of dorms and each has a distinctive feel for the residents. Some are near dining halls; others are a several blocks from the food service. If your college is in an area where there is a lot of inclement weather, this is a consideration.
Dorms vary in the types of rooms and amenities that they offer. Some dorms have single, double and triple rooms. Bathrooms and showers may be connected to the rooms, or they may be down the hall for the use of all of the residents on that floor. Other dorms have suites. Suites typically have a common living area and bedrooms and baths that open off of the living area. Small kitchen areas may be included. Certain dorms may be open for all levels of students, or they might be restricted to upperclassmen. Before you sign up for a room, know what living conditions help you thrive.
If you live in a dorm, participate in the social life of the dorm. Get to know people. Take time to meet your Resident Assistant. This person can help you navigate through problems that you might encounter. A good RA won’t take care of the problems for you, as much as they will help you learn to take care of it yourself.
How comfortable are you being around other people?
Do you need time by yourself to be successful? If you can’t stand to be around a bunch of people, don’t get a triple room! Try for a single room, even if it is more expensive. Make up the cost somewhere else. It’s nice to have a sanctuary where you can just relax.
A flip-side to that thought does exist. There are many people who make lifelong friends during their college years. If you have a room by yourself, you do limit the chance to get to know a roommate on a very personal level. What works best for you? Be honest with yourself!
Can you handle your day-to-day needs?
Do you know how to do laundry? Can you check a bank balance over the phone or online? Have you looked up a telephone number for a necessary service? What is your familiarity with your nutritional requirements? Are you able to advocate for yourself? Can you find appropriate help when you need it? If you had an IEP in high school, does your college have “access services” to accommodate your learning differences? If they do offer them, do you know how to use the services?
If you can’t do these things, learn how to do them before you go away to college. Ask your parents to help or see if an older friend can give you instructions and useful tips. You might want to make a notebook with necessary health and insurance information.
How comfortable are you with handling your own health needs?
College is one of those places where you learn the skills to be independent. Medical attention is not an exception to that paradigm. If you are more than two hours from home, find a doctor and dentist that you can be comfortable with. When you are in the midst of a medical emergency is not the best time to find a helpful medical professional. At that point, you are taking your chances. Make an effort to find a professional that you will get along with. Ask your RA for suggestions and recommendations. The college’s health office can also be of assistance.
If you take medication and you’ve always relied on your parents and your school nurse to manage your meds, it’s time to figure out a way to do it yourself. Do you have a watch with an alarm? You might need a visual reminder where you are the only person who knows what it means.
There is reason to be cautious with your medication at college. Some medications have “street value.” They can be sold on the street. Don’t give somebody the opportunity to steal your meds! Be sure that you have a plan to keep your medication safe.
Most people who leave home to live at college are nervous about the experience. Students with ADD are no exception! By being honest with yourself about your living requirements, you have a greater likelihood to get those needs met. When you have what is necessary to live happily and independently, you are far more likely to taste the sweetness of college success.
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