ADHD: Preparing Your Teen for College

Walking up to School - Teens College
Teens may struggle in college without their old support systems

By Dr. Robb Mapou,

So your teenager with ADHD is in high school, and you are starting to think about college.

Is panic setting in?

Are you a helicopter parent who has been hovering to make sure he gets his work done and turned in on time?

Or maybe your own ADHD makes it hard to help her, and her grades are sliding.

You are wondering HOW IN THE WORLD he is going to complete all of those college papers without your support.

Or, even worse, what about all the distractions and temptations of college that, for a kid with ADHD, are going to be WAY MORE INTERESTING than studying?

Not to fear!

There are things that you can do to make sure your teen is truly ready for college.

First, start talking with her early about these challenges.  Garner support from her school counselor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, coach, and whoever else is part of her support network.

Second, be sure you have an updated evaluation that will verify ADHD is still present, will tell the college what your teen’s strengths and weaknesses are, and will clearly outline the supports that he will need (accommodations, check-ins, reduced course load, etc.).

Third, and most important: make sure your teen is READY to go away to college.

  • Can he get himself to bed in the evening and up in the morning without your help?
  • Can he get his work turned in on time on his own?
  • Can he maintain the same grades he has had (he doesn’t have to be a straight-A student)?

If not, then it may not be a good idea to go away to college right away, as you could lose a lot of money!

Robb Mapou, Ph.D. ABPP is a Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology with The Stixrud Group, Silver Spring, MD

ADHD Community

For as little as the cost of a cup of coffee a month you can take part in live Patreon community discussions with Rick Green + see our new videos first + other perks

ADHD Video is an independent website created & owned by Big Brain Productions Inc. (Rick Green).  We tell you this because so many people ask if pharmaceutical companies paid for any of this and the answer is absolutely not.  Purchases in our shop, and our Patreon community pays for content creation.

3 Replies to “ADHD: Preparing Your Teen for College”

  1. Not just lose a lot of money, but do serious harm to your teen’s self-esteem and future.

    At the time, I knew what I wanted to do with my life (performing, which I loved, and which came so naturally to me), but my parents vetoed it.

    Looking back, I’m amazed that, at the time, I knew I wasn’t ready for university, and I even told them I needed to take some time off to decide what else I wanted to do, and (more importantly) to grow up a bit, because the whole idea of university really scared me. Again, they refused to listen to me, and made me go right into university, to earn an English degree, “…because you’re good at that.” (There’s a reason why there’s a song called “What Can You Do With a B.A. in English.)

    As a result, I suffered severe depression and constant fear, and I had the inevitable ADHD Crash & Burn—though we never even suspected ADHD at the time. I had to move out of the dorm and back home—primarily because first-year students were housed two to a tiny room, which I’d never had to do before, and I couldn’t stand the lack of privacy. The only time I was happy was when I was doing Drama Club stuff, or working part-time at a theatre.

    I ended up having to take 5 years of part-time classes to earn what should have been a 3-year full-time B.A….somehow. I still have nightmares about getting a letter from the university telling me they goofed, and I need to go back to get 1 more credit. When I graduated, I went into a “career” of a long series of low-paying temp. jobs, with no benefits and no job security, but with a remarkable ability to make me feel like a complete fraud trying to fit into them.

    If only my parents had trusted my own judgement of what I should study, and when!

  2. Here I go again. How do you get teachers to learn about ADHD or listen to Robb Mapou. There are still teachers who believe ADHD does not exist, it is just made up. Then there are those teachers who can’t be bothered.
    Wayne ( a teacher wanting a change in education) McFarlane

  3. Dr. Mapou
    Two Questions
    Should people read the book, “Learning Outside the Lines” by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole to get them ready for post-secondary education? The book is about two guys with ADHD who graduate from Brown University
    Do state governments give out bursaries to students with ADHD going into colleges and universities? The government here in Ontario does?
    Wayne (Who wants more Money for students with ADHD) McFarlane

Leave a Reply