Every student has felt the struggle of failing to concentrate for more than five minutes in lecture, drinking too much caffeine and thinking at a million hours an hour, and even sudden crashes after an intense spurt of work.
For students with ADHD, this doesn’t just happen occasionally. This is daily life.
ADHD – or Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder – makes it difficult or impossible for people to concentrate, stay on task, organise thoughts, and control actions. It can also cause relationship problems due to erratic behaviour and unpredictability.
Throw deadlines, new friendships and grade anxiety into the mix, and it’s easy to see how students with ADHD can become overwhelmed while at university.
— Anna Kaminsky (@AnnaKaminsky1) May 13, 2018
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in the United States, according to the American Psychiatric Society, and thankfully, US universities are creating programmes to help afflicted students reach their full potential.
Here are five of the best universities in the US for students with ADHD…
West Virginia University
West Virginia University has a specialised programme for students with ADHD called MindFit. The initiative works closely with the student on an individual basis to identify unique strengths and weaker points to create a personalised strategy.
The academic enhancement programme works with students to offer educational and life coaching facilities to address their difficulties. This encourages students to discuss their problems and find solutions that work for them.
Cognitive enhancement focuses on the neurological side of the disorder, by using non-pharmacological methods to increase attention span and memory. The MindFit programme gives students access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and neurofeedback, helping students carve out new thought patterns that better serve academic achievement.
Eastern Kentucky University
Students with ADHD at Eastern Kentucky University can enroll in the support programme SUCCESS which provides specialized support aimed at helping students reach their academic potential.
“Project SUCCESS is exactly what its name implies- a pathway to academic success. Whether you are an incoming freshman or a transfer student, our goal for you is the same- to see you complete a two-or-four-year degree,” said Eastern Kentucky University.
It is hard to understand what we cannot see…Some of the brightest, most creative, & capable minds struggle to pay attention…These students care about their learning, but struggle to master practices to help them do so efficiently & effectively. #ADHD https://t.co/ffWQFOGzGB
— Mike Bowman (@mobozzen) May 6, 2018
The programme offers academic coaching that helps students build problem-solving strategies and self-advocacy skills to help them thrive in a university setting through structured sessions focussed on individual needs.
Students in the SUCCESS programme can also access tutoring from upper-class undergraduate and graduate students who have been trained in working with students with learning difficulties. This allows those with ADHD to learn from their older peers without feeling patronised. Students meet with their tutors twice a week to discuss academic or personal difficulties they are going through.
Focus group sessions also help students relate to people who understand their struggles, providing an accepting environment to discuss specific topics – including the transition to adult life from high school and relationship building.
South Oregon University
At South Oregon University, students with ADHD receive a personalised counsellor and writing coach to help them achieve their academic potential through the University Coaching and Academic Mentoring programme (U-CAM).
Students meet their counsellor every week to help track personal and academic progress. These coaching sessions can be used to help students stick to deadlines, develop time management and motivation skills and build self-confidence.
Writing coaches also ensure students stay on track for both their set deadlines and academic progress. This double-focussed approach allows students with ADHD to receive support for the different issues they face.
Parents praise U-CAM for helping their children achieve their potential: “My husband and I really believe that if our son would have had his coach or a clone of her while he was at his previous college that more progress would have been made.
“She is so positive in her efforts and support of us and our son, plus she is creative in her ideas and plans for him. She follows through. That is a beautiful thing in our world of parents with a Learning Difficulties son,” said one parent.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona helps students with ADHD develop skills that won’t only help them perform well at university, but also in life through the ADHD and Life Coaching initiative.
Focussed on students’ personal growth, counsellors work closely with the student to identify key areas for improvement. Weekly sessions are used to build confidence and create a sense of responsibility through a two-fold approach.
Life coaching helps students create strategies that keep them motivated, teaches them to understand the consequences of their actions and encourages them to make positive change.
ADHD coaching is focussed more on day-to-day personal struggles such as organisation, focus, planning, and completing tasks.
This joint approach seeks to help students with ADHD develop as full individuals rather than only focussing on academic assistance.
The university acknowledges life skills such as maintaining a daily routine, eating a balanced diet, studying at optimal times and attending lectures are necessary but challenging for students with ADHD. By mastering these skills at college, they also create a healthy blueprint to assist in adult life after graduation.
Northeastern University understands that being a student with ADHD isn’t easy. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, nor is there a clear-cut path for progression among all diagnosed students.
For these reasons, Northeastern University’s Learning Disabilities Programme (LDP) focuses on three core areas: academic skills, self-regulated learning and academic mindset.
This full-bodied approach means students get help where they need it most, whether that’s organisation and time management skills, setting and achieving goals or building resilience and long-term motivation.
Students will receive two one-hour sessions with a trained counsellor every week to encourage personal and academic growth.
The programme also requires students to attend all scheduled classes on their course, show up to all scheduled LDP sessions and communicate about their academic development. This can be particularly helpful for students with ADHD as they must remain committed and focussed in order to receive support from the university, thus building a sense of personal responsibility.