ADHD and 5 Tips for Transitioning to College

Angela: Today we’re going to talk about ADHD and 5 tips for transitioning to college. There’s no need to flounder and fail during this exciting time—you can succeed and find your way during new season of life.

I’m Angela Howard and my passion is to break the stigma of mental health issues among fellow Christians. If you’re new to my channel please subscribe and don’t forget to click on that notifications bell so you don’t miss out on any of the new content.

I’ve invited a special guest to weigh in on our topic of ADHD and transitioning to college, my son Benjamin Howard, who is just fresh out of his first semester at Gonzaga University.

Ben: Thanks for having me. I was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade so I’ve knowingly been facing these challenges for 10 years.

Angela: Typically people think that it’s inevitable that young adults will struggle during their first year of college, especially those who have a diagnosis like ADHD. You can refer to some of my previous videos to get more information on the types and causes of ADHD. But there are some specific tips that will help you find success and stability during this transition, and that’s what we want to address today.

Tip #1 Practice and Prepare before you leave.

Angela: When Ben was at home during his Junior and Senior years of high school we started addressing issues that he would face when we would be on his own without us. We talked about warning signs for depression and anxiety and how he could reach out for help. We started releasing the reigns as much as possible so that he could make decisions on his own and practice for what it would be like in college. Ben, what skills did you learn those last years of high school that prepared you for college?

Ben: Obviously, remembering to take my medication was a big one. As well as advocating for myself with teachers and learning how I was being perceived by my peers.

Angela: Even though we were being intentional, we often doubted ourselves—we wondered if we doing too much or not enough to teach you.  What did you find the most helpful?

Ben: Teaching me how to think of the disorder. You guys hammered into my head that ADHD wasn’t what defined me, and that my medicine didn’t ‘fix’ me. ADHD is a disorder that I have, and my medicine is a tool I use to help deal with it.

Tip #2 Structure

Ben: Creating a daily routine, getting organized, and having the expectation that you’ll need to put in 15-20 hrs. of study time during each week.

Tip #3 Focus on Your Strengths

Angela: One of the biggest things I’ve noticed that has helped you succeed is focusing on your strengths. You accept that you learn differently than others and then you use this to your advantage. How has this helped you in the transition to college?

Ben: Everybody wants to feel unique, but nobody wants to feel different. By learning how my brain works, I’ve been able to think of those strengths as unique aspects of myself, not as things that make me different.

Tip #4 Set Goals and Rewards

Ben: For those of you that skated through high school without doing much studying, you will find that, now that you are in college, you actually have to buckle down and study on a fairly consistent basis, which is very hard for the ADHD brain. What has helped me the most in dealing with this is constantly setting short term goals and rewarding myself for reaching those goals. So if I have a bunch of notes to take, I mark a place in the reading where I will take a five-minute break or go get a snack or take a walk. These short term goals will help your long term focus.

Tip #5 Connect to God & Church Community

Angela: I think one of the biggest reasons you haven’t floundered this first semester is being connected to God and church community. What do you think?

Ben: I got plugged into a Bible study and a church within the first few weeks, which was a huge help to me. It’s really important to actively seek out community wherever you are. In college there are tons of campus ministries and Bible studies just waiting for you to join.

Angela: I love what it says in Psalm 139:14…


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

We are all unique creations of God. He has a purpose for our lives regardless of the struggles we face.


What tips would you add to the list? Comment below, and we would love to hear from you.

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