College Academic Success with ADD

College Academic Success with ADD
Executive function affects the ability to plan on-the-go. It also impacts implementation and monitoring of the plans that a person makes. People with Attention Deficit Disorder have difficulty with executive functioning. Since these skills don't come naturally to us, we need to explicitly plan our road to academic success in college. Here are some pointers on how to do that.

The Syllabus is Your Friend (and lets you know what to do!):

The syllabus is your road map to success in your class. It contains valuable information about how the class operates. You should read it carefully, on the day that you get it. Hole-punch your syllabus and put it in your notebook where you can refer to it. On the day that you get the syllabus, get a piece of paper and write down the due dates for all of your assignments and special projects. Put it in the notebook with the syllabus. Revisit this sheet of paper at least weekly. That way, you won't forget an important project that is worth a lot of points.

Plan Your Study Time (or study just won't happen!):

Study time doesn't just "happen" for folks with Attention Deficit Disorder; it needs to be planned. Students should plan for at least 2-4 hours of study time for every hour that you are in class. A good time to study for a class is right before or right after the class. Do the reading before you go to class. Rewrite your notes from the last class that you had. This provides a good review and gives you a better set of notes to study from for tests. Certainly, plan to study material from the class that you just attended on the same day of the class. The information is still fresh in your memory. You might not do all of your studying on that day, nor should you. Distribute your study time for classes, rather than studying in one big block. When you have several study days for a class, it helps you to retain information better. Material is also retained more effectively if it is studied directly before bedtime. Study, then go right to sleep. Don't do anything between the study time and going to bed.

Get the Help That You Need (before you think that you need it!):

Plan to get the help that you need before you need it. Most colleges have a group of counselors and tutors for students who have learning difficulties. They usually require some sort of documentation about the learning problem. If you have Attention Deficit Disorder, they might want a letter from a doctor about your diagnosis or a copy of your last Individualized Education Program (IEP) from high school. Start with this group when you are signing up for classes. You might be eligible for services like a note taker in class, special tutoring, extra time on tests, or a quiet place to take tests.

Many colleges have resource centers with tutors available for all of the students that are taking classes. Usually, they want proof that you are enrolled in classes in order to work on homework in the resource center. When you show your Student ID, they can access your schedule and know that you belong in tutoring. Do your math homework in the math resource center. When you have a question, get a tutor to help. Is there a paper due in a class? Go to the writing center. Do you need general help on a course? An academic achievement center should be in your future. Are you having difficulty with submitting assignments because your computer died? Get your feet pointed in the direction of the computer/tech lab. They can let you use a college computer and fix you up with the skills that you need to be successful.

A recent large MRI study of the brain's structures showed that people with Attention Deficit Disorder have five areas of the brain that are smaller than folks without ADD/ADHD. One of these areas is the one that controls executive function. When you have a problem in an area, like executive function, it doesn't mean that you cannot be successful. It means that you have to work harder, make explicit plans, and use that ADD creativity that you have been blessed with.

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You Should Also Read:
A College Syllabus and Students with ADD
Complex Learning in College with ADD
Brain Development Delays Cause ADD

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This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.