Heading off to college represents an exciting time for students with ADHD. Most are excited for the opportunity to break away from the structure of high school and the routines of family life, and forge their own path. It’s also an anxiety-provoking time, since the success of students with ADHD up to this point has often been dependent on the structure that their school and family have provided. All students with ADHD need some level of additional support during college to reach their full potential. Some need fairly minimal support, like access to a psychiatrist on campus who can prescribe ADHD medication, a handful of academic accommodations, or a reduced course-load. Others need more substantial support, like access to ADHD-specific counseling or coaching programs, individualized instruction, or executive functioning classes. College campuses vary greatly in the services offered and the costs associated with these services. Working together with your teen to figure out which college is the right fit for their unique needs is a complex and lengthy process. To get you started, here’s a list of five colleges that offer enhanced support services for students with ADHD.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona offers a highly acclaimed program just for students with ADHD and other learning differences through its Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center. The SALT Center offers individual weekly meetings with a Strategic Learning Specialist who assists with educational planning, goal-setting, time management, organization, and learning strategies. Also provided are access to assistive technology, psychological counseling, tutoring, and the option to receive additional life coaching or ADHD-specific coaching. The SALT Center charges semester-based fees ranging from $1,200 – $2,800.
Landmark College (Vermont) is a unique college exclusively for students with ADHD or learning disorders and offers one of the most comprehensive specialized learning programs available. At Landmark College, support services are integrated into the curriculum, and all students have access to them. These supports include small class sizes (with a student to faculty ratio of 6:1), individualized instruction designed to make classes engaging for students with ADHD, executive function coaching, tutoring, and social supports that facilitate the process of establishing a new friend group and living on a college campus.
University of Maryland College Park
The University of Maryland College Park, like most colleges, offers typical academic accommodations for students with ADHD. Through the Psychology Department on campus, students can also access the SUCCEEDS program, which is designed specifically for students with ADHD. Through the SUCCEEDS program, students receive a comprehensive assessment that identifies their areas of strengths and weaknesses, participate in weekly group meetings led by graduate students in the psychology department, and are assigned a personal coach to help them with time management, social challenges, and organizational challenges. There is a separate fee for the SUCCEEDS program ranging from $1,500 – $2,000 per semester.
Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University (North Carolina) offers a unique program for students with executive functioning challenges (including students with ADHD) through their As-U-R program. Like many of the programs on this list, they offer specialized tutoring and mentoring, specific training to address executive functioning challenges (like time management and organization), transition and adjustment assistance for incoming students, and access to assistive technology. Where this university program really raises the bar is with their commitment to accountability – all students participating in the As-U-R program are required to spend study hours in the “Study Center” each week, where they have a quiet study space and direct access to assistance from support staff. What could be better for blocking out distractions and helping students with ADHD follow-through on meeting their academic goals? Students must apply to be admitted into the As-U-R program; however, there are no additional fees for AS-U-R services.
For students looking for a smaller college campus experience, Curry College (Massachusetts) can be an excellent option. Curry College offers the Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL), which provides credit-bearing courses to teach students with ADHD the learning strategies they need to succeed in college lecture courses. Throughout the school year, students meet with a PAL faculty member 2-3 times per week in a combination of individual and group settings to develop a better understanding of their learning styles and develop key executive functioning skills. PAL’s fees range from $1,800 - $3,500 per semester.
This list represents just a few of the many colleges that offer enhanced services for students with ADHD. For additional resources, check out the 20 Best Value Colleges for Students with ADHD or lists focused on colleges with services for students with learning differences, like College Choice’s 50 Best Disability Friendly Colleges and Universities.
For teens with ADHD college acceptance represents a major milestone, and one that they worked very hard to achieve. Once the admissions offer has been accepted and the celebration has died down, it’s time to start thinking about how your teen’s needs will be met once college life begins. College students with ADHD need more support than their peers without ADHD in many areas. The start of college is an exciting time for incoming students, and most are eager to break away from the structure of their high school existence and start something new. It’s a time when independence is celebrated, and teens finally have a chance to really stand on their own two feet. For incoming students with ADHD, this exciting time can also be anxiety provoking, and with good reason. Teens with ADHD are more dependent than most on the structure provided by their high school and their families and breaking away from that structure while keeping ADHD symptoms in check can be a real challenge. Difficulties with organization, time management, prioritizing academic assignments and attending classes, regulating sleep schedules, etc. all become exacerbated when school structure and parental oversight are pulled away. In addition, symptoms of ADHD make attending and learning from longer lectures and dense reading assignments without individual support more challenging.
Academic accommodations in college are one tool that may help students with ADHD manage some of the ADHD-related impairments that come up during classes for students with ADHD. It’s important for students and their parents to understand in advance what types of accommodations are available to students with ADHD, how to qualify for these accommodations, and who to meet with to ensure that these accommodations are put into place. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions as they relate to college academic accommodations and ADHD.
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.
This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.