Students with ADHD face additional challenges when entering college

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The transition from high school to college can often be difficult for students. College students tend to have a lot of responsibilities from organizing a school schedule to determining housing arrangements and figuring out how to pay for tuition.

For students with learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the transition from high school to college can be even harder.

ADHD is a behavioral disorder that is usually characterized by inattentiveness and impulsive behavior. For students with ADHD, paying attention in class or staying focused on an assignment can be difficult. The transition into college can bring added responsibilities for someone with ADHD, like Adrian Esquilin, junior in open option.

“My freshman year I wasn’t really able to cope with the extra responsibilities that I had,” Esquilin said. “I felt like I needed to do too many things at once.”

According to an Oct. 4, 2011 study in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, about 1-3 percent of the college population is affected by ADHD. If you put that in perspective to K-State, that’s about 250 to 750 students who are affected by this learning disability. The results of the study showed that students diagnosed with ADHD had more problems with internal distractions than students without the disability.

To help students with this disability at a local level, Kristy Morgan, recent doctoral graduate in student affairs at K-State, conducted her own study to help incoming freshmen with ADHD have a smoother transition into college.

“I have four young children, two of whom have been diagnosed with ADHD,” Morgan said. “I was interested in how to prepare my daughter for the challenges that college would bring.”

Morgan concluded in her study that, contrary to common belief, students will not outgrow ADHD when they get into college and adulthood. She said her advice to students is to know what is coming and to work closely with a psychiatrist who specializes in learning disabilities when they get to college.

“I would advise students to establish a routine that is consistent,” Morgan said. “Avoid scheduling classes for times that medications won’t be as effective or in buildings or classrooms that are distracting. Speak to instructors about your ADHD as well, and lastly educate yourself about this disability and determine the ways it most affects you.”

There are multiple resources at K-State that can help with student disabilities.

“I work with my psychiatrist at Lafene, and she’s been my go-to person whenever I have problems,” Esquilin said. “I’ve also had success with the DSS as well.”

The Disability Support Services, or DSS, is a resource responsible for helping students with documented disabilities. For more information, visit their website at k-state.edu/dss.

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