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Experiences

5 Tips for Surviving College with ADHD

Living with ADHD isn’t easy. I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old, and even seven years
later I still struggle with it. Getting into a college like Ohio University was a big deal for me, however, my entrance into the school came it’s own challenges. I found myself jumping over academic, social, physical and mental hurdles everyday. The new websites were confusing, the professors were rigid, and the coursework was very different from high school. However, I’m a very stubborn person, (or so I ’ve been told), and I wasn’t about to give up on something I worked so hard to get to. So, without further ado, here’s my tips for surviving college (and all sorts of other things) as a student with ADHD.

Keep something to fidget with during classes

One of the hallmarks of ADHD is the inability to keep still, and it’s something that I’ve struggled
with since I could walk. However, to keep myself focused, I always have something to keep my
hands busy while I’m in class. A hair tie, a beaded bracelet, a pencil, anything! As long as it
allows you to keep your eyes on the professor or the screen, it’ll do.

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Don’t take it personally

One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with in my experience with ADHD was the rejection-sensitive
dysphoria, or a heightened sensitivity to criticism. I know that my first thought whenever someone turns down a potential hangout or when they don’t say hi back is, “they hate me and never want to talk to me again”. That’s not true, is it? Of course not, maybe they just didn’t feel like hanging out or didn’t see me. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by rejection or criticism, remember it’s probably not your fault that they said no. In fact, it probably has nothing to do with you.

Write down everything

Living with ADHD already makes it hard to keep assignments straight and using new websites
with different formats in an unfamiliar place makes it even harder. This is why I’m telling you to
write down everything. This can include assignments, notes, small reminders to take your medicine, and to do your laundry (it took me over a week to even think about doing my laundry). Buy a planner, a dry
erase board, or even just open a google doc or sheet to write everything down in. I personally
set dozens of reminders in my phone and write all my assignments down in a google sheet
organized by date and class, and so far these methods haven’t failed me.

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Sure, asking for help can be scary. You don’t know what people will say. Professors might say
no. But, that’s a part of life. If you’re legitimately concerned about something, don’t be afraid to
ask for help. Ask your professor to repeat something they said. Ask your roommate to remind
you of something if you forget. Ask the kid in your math class what hall you’re supposed to meet
in. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and the absolute worst thing that could happen is
being told, “no”.

Remind yourself that everything will work out

As cheesy as it sounds, positive affirmations do genuinely work. I recently had a horrible day
and was on the verge of crying alone in my dorm. I was shaking, my mind was racing, and it
seemed like everything was falling apart around me. I parked myself in front of the mirror on
the wall and said, “everything is okay. No one is mad at you. You are okay”. And like I said
earlier, it sounds cheesy, but it worked. I felt better pretty quickly once I had accepted those
affirmations. Even if you’re almost positive that it won’t work, it’s better to try than let yourself
spiral.

Nobody said campus life with ADHD would be easy, but that doesn’t make it impossible. From
one hyperactive college girl to another, you can do this. ADHD is an obstacle to conquer, not a
wall to be stopped by.

Alicia is currently in her freshman at Ohio University. She is studying Journalism (News and Information) and hopes to one day become a writer for a music or culture publication. In her free time, she loves to play guitar, hang out with friends, and explore the wild world she's in.
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