Managing ADHD in College

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During college years, your young adult will face many changes. These range from hormonal changes to increased stress levels due to schoolwork. While these might be manageable for the normal kid, those suffering from ADHD are likely to experience increased symptoms of stress and anxiety during this time. These symptoms include:

  • Distractibility
  • Disorganization
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Low concentration spans 

It’s imperative for teenagers with ADHD to learn how to manage these symptoms. At Clear Behavioral Health, we encourage parents of young adults to seek professional help for their children approaching college. Aside from our intimate care, here’s everything you need to know about what your child may face as a new college student, and how you can help them manage their symptoms. 

How ADHD May Affect a Student’s Life

Students with ADHD have challenges such as poor concentration and getting easily distracted. This means they may have problems paying attention in school. They may experience a drop in grades, especially when they are not receiving any medication. 

ADHD students might be inattentive or extremely anxious; for instance, they can’t wait for their turn to answer questions. They may interrupt the teacher numerous times and make learning difficult for others.

Signs of ADHD in College Students

  • Rushing through classwork
  • Poor concentration
  • Losing learning materials
  • Forgetting assignments
  • Nervousness
  • Missing classes 

Their focus can easily shift from the task at hand to other activities, which results in bad grades. Additionally, they may have poor relationships with their classmates. 

How to Get Through College With ADHD

The first step for a student managing ADHD is acknowledging and accepting that they involuntarily behave in a certain way. These young adults should also understand that their bodies are going through physical, emotional and social changes that can cause mental and health difficulties. Some of these health challenges include depression and anxiety. 

Managing this condition calls for dedication, and working with a professional to develop a management plan. The management plan should include realistic goals for the child as well as ways to achieve them. It should include a daily schedule and any rules to follow. People with ADHD often respond well to having a daily routine and knowing what they can expect from their day.

The plan should include all aspects of the young adult’s life, taking into account home, school, and social influences. It’s advisable to discuss this plan with anyone who is regularly around the child; parents, teachers and medical professionals. This will make everyone’s expectations clear. To have the right balance, the management plan should include three aspects:

  • Medication
  • Behavior strategies
  • Emotional support  

ADHD Medication for College Students

If your child is not already on ADHD medication, you’re probably considering whether they should be before their first semester of college. Here are some of your options. 


Stimulants are the most common form of treating ADHD. They increase the production of helpful chemicals in the brain, reducing the symptoms of ADHD by about 70%. 

In ADHD patients, neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for transmitting information from one nerve cell to another) in the brain may prematurely get reabsorbed by neurons. This causes failure of the neural network to relay messages in time. 

Stimulants increase the release of some neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. They also prevent these chemicals from being reabsorbed by the neurons. These neurotransmitters are then held longer between neurons, which results in messages being effectively transmitted in the brain. These stimulants may help people with ADHD respond better to schoolwork demands. Some of the stimulants commonly used for medication include Methylphenidate and Amphetamines. 

Studies on brain activity have shown that when someone with ADHD takes a stimulant medication, the metabolic activity in the cerebellum, prefrontal cortex and some subcortical regions increases. All these areas are crucial for executing brain function. Stimulants, therefore, make the brain active to cognitive functions. 

Other medications

Atomoxetine and clonidine are alternative medications used to treat ADHD. These medications reduce anxiety as well. 

Behavior Strategies for ADHD

As a child moves to college, they will need independence from their parents. This means that they may push past some of the boundaries that may have been set for them. The student, therefore, needs to learn behavior strategies that will help them increase their cooperation as well as reduce their symptoms of ADHD. The team here at Clear Behavioral Health recommends that you and your child: 

Create a routine

Having a structure of the activities your child will carry out every day will help then maintain calm. Set designated time for meals, play, school work, and bedtime. They should have simple daily tasks that you stick to every day to maintain a clear routine. 

Break down routines into specific tasks

Having a timetable of all the tasks that lay ahead for each day will remind your child of their busy schedule and help them remain focused. Routines should be simplified to only include important tasks. 

Create personal time and space

Encourage them to have a special, quiet space to spend personal time away from others. This space can be used for personal studies and assignments. It should be simple and neat to reduce distractions. This means that the area should be away from TVs, computers, and other forms of entertainment that may trigger impulsive behavior. 

Regulate sleeping patterns

Sleeping time is very important for people suffering from ADHD. They need a healthy and refreshing bedtime ritual. Discourage stimulants such as coffee and sugar in their diet and a lot of television time. Lack of sleep may cause hyperactivity, recklessness, and inability to maintain focus. 


Individuals with ADHD need both encouragement and professional guidance. While parents may be offering enough encouragement, their child may need to seek the help of mental health professionals. 

At Clear Behavioral Health, we work with young adults suffering from an inability to stick to routine due to their ADHD. We can help your child learn effective strategies they can use all school year. 

Physical exercise

Physical exercise is highly beneficial. It helps burn out excess energy and it is a healthy way to focus on specific activities. Exercise may even improve concentration, stimulate the brain, and decrease anxiety and depression. There are many professional athletes who have ADHD.

Bottom Line

Managing ADHD can be a big challenge, especially for a kid who is joining college. They may be overwhelmed by the new social settings, responsibilities, and lack of guidance from their parents. There should be a proper plan formulated under professional guidance to establish what best suits the child.

Contact Clear Behavioral Health today to learn more about how we help students manage their ADHD.

Last Updated on August 30, 2023

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