No one will dispute the fact that good study habits are a necessity when it comes to a successful college experience — regardless of a student’s course of study, the main advantage a college graduate has over those who haven’t completed a degree is the fact that prospective employers already know that their potential hire has the ability to stay on task and complete a disciplined degree program. This edge is largely what gets a graduate’s foot in the proverbial door.
But for the student who has attention deficit disorder, staying on task can be particularly challenging. According to psychologist Dr Michael Forrest, regardless of how bright a student with ADD is, there comes a point in time that if they modify their behavior or take medication, they will hit a wall.
As someone who was diagnosed as an adult with ADD, I can verify that what he says is absolutely true; and in fact, I’ve noticed that even those who take medication may still need to make behavioral changes in order to insure academic success. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. A calendar is an absolute necessity. This is a no brainer for most students, but it’s especially crucial for the ADD student to keep a calendar close at hand, regardless of whether it’s a low tech paper calendar or one that comes with their tablet is unimportant — function takes precedence over form.
I discovered this quite by accident my first semester in college; many times I felt as though I was walking in a circular room, the mental fog was so heavy at times. I glanced down and saw a small 3-by-5 calendar.
The ADD student tends to think spatially rather than linearly; the calendar helped me to mentally line up my day in linear fashion so I could progress step by step through the day.
A friend of mine who is an educational consultant recently attended a job fair at a local community college; she decided to conduct a survey of prospective employers to find out what they wanted students to come away with. The response was overwhelmingly similar: “Teach them to stay on task and follow directions in a specific order. We can teach them the mechanics of a particular position fairly easily, but they MUST be able to think linearly to be successful.”
2. Look over your day with a critical eye and divide it into sections: morning, afternoon, and evening. Trust me on this — although it may sound simplistic, it helps tremendously. If you’d rather divide by class time, work time and study time — that works just as well.
Next Post: Prioritizing Tasks