Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums What is it? Do I Have it? Can you have ADHD but still excel scholastically?

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 33 total)
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    #99657 |


    The short answer is YES.

    I did it almost 30 years ago and I was on the dean’s list for 3 years running. Since I have only been recently diagnosed with ADD, I did all that without any help. First realize this: You are probably smarter than most of your professors. They have hundreds of students to teach and will fall into two categories: The ones that teach and test from the book, and the ones that teach and test from their class notes. Figure out which works best for you. Are you an auditory learner or a visual learner? Then find the prof that fits your learning style.

    I am an auditory learner, because of my dyslexia. So I chose professors that use class notes. Since I was an older student, professors didn’t scare me at all. I just walked into their offices before the next enrollment and interviewed them. Got the info I needed and made sure I signed up for the one that fit my needs.

    I also like community colleges for the first couple years. The class sizes are very small and profs are more interested in teaching you. So they might make allowances for your ADD. Once you have a couple years of college under your belt, transfer to a larger school, where in your 3rd and 4th years the class sizes will be smaller any way.

    You are far ahead of where I was 30 years ago.

    #99658 |

    I am a very fast learner and throughout school it always felt like everyone is chapters behind where we were supposed to be and I was always several chapters beyond where we were supposed to be, creating a huge gap [only exacerbated due to No Child Left Behind…]. Due to that gap, I was always super bored and, as I told my counselor the other day, that boredom “brings out the smart ass in me.” …Anyway, back to the topic. xD I always learn stuff super quick because I see the connections between everything. Sure, I get overwhelmed all the time due to too much information and stimuli, but I can always attach a lot of those details [at least when it comes to school] to things I already know well, and so if I hear it once, it’s attach to whatever knowledge I already have and I never need to hear it again.

    I am currently in my sophomore year of college and just transferred to a University after being at Community for 4 semesters [including summer classes]. Up until this point in my life I literally have not had to work AT ALL. I don’t know how to study simply because I’ve never worked for school because I’ve never had to, but that all changed this semester with University. For my classes I literally have to read 200+ pages a week and it’s absolutely killing me since I always feel like I have other stuff to do. I still get good grades but I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth and that I have so much potential.

    Anyway, to agree with everyone else, I think that you absolutely CAN have ADHD and excel in school.

    #99659 |

    We sure can be ADD and excel at school. On the other hand, some of us do the exact opposite of that out of boredom. Of course, I always say there is no excuse for boredom because there is always something else just waiting for us to learn!

    I’m a teacher and probably got into the field just because I had no other idea of what to do with my life despite being on the honour roll. All my friends put up with my quirkiness probably because of the way my school put us into our classes back then. Waaaay back when. In middle school, we were organized into our classes based on our grades. An ‘A’ student was placed in a homeroom class of other ‘A’ students. You’re a ‘B’ student? Well, you go there. ‘C’? There’s your room.

    WHAT? ‘D’??? Oh dear, go over there and stand in that corner for the year.

    Lucky me to be an ‘A’. The kids in my class were all ‘exceptional’ in one way or another but all of them had brains that were elastic enough to be open to the differences in each other. I think back now and know that a bunch of us were ADD and there were even some that I’d bet my last dollar on that were Asperberger’s. Learning disabilites? Yes, those too. In fact, one of my best friends was tested in 9th grade and declared to be a full-fledged big E in that department along with just being a real smart cookie.

    The truth of the matter is the years we were segregated into those classes were some of the most interesting years I spent at school. I had the same teachers as my twin sister, who by the way was in the ‘C’ class because she had attitude, skipped school, and never completed one single assignment (other than the ones I did for her- heehee). I don’t want anyone saying that the reason my class did so well in school is because our class was given better teachers. I do know they enjoyed our class more but that is probably because we were engaged in learning.

    My classes over those years certainly had their fair share of class clowns and we did engage in a lot of goofiness with them but we always managed to get our work done. There were a couple of kids that always were given enormous extensions to the due date for projects because of their quirks. In fact, we used to laugh about it as a class when a new assignment/due date was given and then we’d announce the 2nd due date for those couple of students. The best thing? It was okay with all of us because, well, it was just okay. For whatever reason, they just seemed to need more time to get things done. No big deal that they’d get an extra 2 weeks.

    So why did I go into teaching? ‘Cause I didn’t have anything else that came to mind when it was time to go to university. One friend went into law, two went into medicine, one an architect (when girls just DIDN’T), and another a social worker. They kept asking me what I was going into and truthfully, I told them I had NO idea. Odd, we never even talked about what we would go into until our last year of high school. Way too many things interested us and I guess if your marks are good you have lots of choices, right?

    So when we finally were starting to look into filling out those university applications I was like a deer in headlights. When I had no idea what I should apply for while we were talking that day, one of my friends said she thought I should work with people and that I’d be especially great working with kids, why not go into education? So now I am a teacher.

    Class clowns? As soon as I meet a class clown in each year’s new group of kids I look to see why. Class clowns are often ADDers or trying to hide something and that’s usually that they’re having a hard time with the work. Not always true, but it’s often there and can be dealt with.

    Of course, sometimes they just like to make us laugh! :o)

    #99660 |


    May I ask when you were first diagnosed with ADD/ADHD? When you were diagnosed was medication a treatment course that was taken? May I ask what year you graduated High school?

    #99661 |

    I did really well throughout school — but I have done five Masters programs without ever completing any of them.

    #99662 |

    Yes – I graduated high school with a 4.0 average (straight As) and graduated from a major university with Cum Laude honors. If you looked closer though, I purposely avoided classes and majors that had lengthy papers as a part of the course, because I struggle with writing. I’m OK with grammar and spelling, but trying to put the paper together and just putting thoughts down is extremely hard for me. I also dropped out of the honors program eventually because I had a hard time putting the extra effort into what was needed to succeed in those courses. I’ve been told many times after graduating from various people that they were surprised I didn’t go further in my education or career because I was “so smart.” Of course when I hit college, I felt really stupid and began thinking that I wasn’t as smart as people thought I was. :( I wonder how I would have done if I had known then about ADD (back then only kids and boys were diagnosed).

    #99663 |

    I can see the “Likes to talk” symptom has a stranglehold on many of us, eh?

    I got high marks on the ADD test as well.

    I’m glad to know that all of the A’s I got in school don’t give me immunity.

    I was labeled “Tardy King” by my 6th-grade teacher. It’s a good thing I lived only 12 houses from the school.

    I learned how to write, too. I dictate into a microphone, and then transcribe later. That helps with sentence structure you lose when it’s coming out for the first time via a keyboard.

    Like a guitarist – a new guitarist concentrates on his playing, while an experienced guitarist concentrates on his song. Does that make sense? I compare it to my spoken word as the experienced guitarist, and my typing as the new guitarist.

    I knew I should have used the microphone…

    #99664 |

    I think a great program could be A hiper Brain Science Special. It could be a 30 min show in 10 minutes. We can all follow along and only one third of the words would have to be spoken. To make sure no one got bored actors could interupt each others lines randomly. At the end of the program anyone who got it was automatically ADHD.

    Until now I never realized how slow and long it takes others to processing information or ideas. Been there and done that.

    Seriously From my own experience..I excelled in some subjects. Entered and remembered no problem. Working in one’s easy learning field helps success. Great calculations and design.but hated writing letters. engineering was easy – passing English my nightmare.

    I have a passion for design/creativity. I have the same sense of accomplishment from a industrial computer application as a Storm sewer design. If you find your passion the rest should fall into place.

    Good Luck

    #99665 |

    I am a mature ADHDer! 12 years of Catholic school with only one grade less then A, and that was a D- (given only after the principal negotiated it) that was given to me by the only nun that actually saw the real me! At the university my first math class was twice as large as my entire High School. The professor was talking in a language I could not understand. Any way courses outside my major were minimised, in my major I manage 3.5 and ended up with a 2.59 overall, just enough to get me into grad school. I have always rationalized that in the smaller environment there was competition, and that competition drove me. At the U there were so many good students that I could not enable my competitive spirit. I did become an excellent bridge player though.

    The short of it is yes you can have ADD and even be successful…but seek professional treatment to increase the odds in your favor!

    #99666 |

    My grades were top of my class in elementary and secondary school. I was on the Dean’s List in university. One of my profs in university offered me a job as his assistant, and recommended I continue through for a PhD…and I felt like a complete scam artist throughout it all. I really wondered when someone would notice that I was somehow pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes (although I wasn’t sure how I was tricking everyone, I knew I had to be). I turned down the job and PhD avenue, because I was sure that the prof would see through my “facade” once he was working close with me, and realize he’d made a mistake. I decided to take the “safe” route, and became a secondary school teacher…and I’m continually trying to find another career more suited to my quirks, but so far haven’t found the “right” one (I’m not sure it exists).

    I never felt I fit in anywhere, and chose horrible boyfriends. I haven’t been divorced, but I have been engaged 4 times (I’m 32). My current partner is my match…and he also has ADHD. We understand and feel free to be ourselves around each other…I think those are the most important things. We also frustrate the hell out of each other at times, but that’s part of what keeps things interesting (which we both need!). ;)

    I was officially diagnosed with ADHD in December, and started Vyvanse. My coping strategies just weren’t working anymore, and they really weren’t the most positive strategies anyways (but they did the job for a long time). Vyvanse has changed my life for the better. It has also made me sad. I feel like I’m grieving for what could have been, if only I’d known earlier. I wouldn’t want to be without my fiance and our son, but I know my life would’ve taken a different path in many ways. I would’ve been a much happier, fulfilled young adult and teenager. I wouldn’t have felt so lonely and depressed. Maybe I would’ve stayed with an interest long enough to channel my creativity into something productive!

    So, to answer your question, yes, I’m positive that intelligence can hide ADHD. We are creative people that come up with unconventional ways to get things done. In my case (and it sounds like it’s the same for others), we tend to fall apart when life gets busier and more complicated…and our strategies can’t compensate any longer.

    #99667 |

    Wow Laffman, this post got some great feedback!

    Yes, I concur that ADD/ADHD does not necessarily mean poor academics. I was always an Honor student throughout primary school, but like so many others who replied to this post, I too was a bit disruptive! I always had to blurt out a funny remark or snarky comment – I just couldn’t help myself :-) I LOVE to make people laugh! I got my diagnosis in 2009 and finally it all made sense…well, at least there was an explanation :-)

    I too majored in English and got my B.A. in seven short years! I had no idea what I wanted to major in as far as a career path, but I liked the lit. classes and creative writing. Of course fiction was too much effort and lengthy – I focused on poetry!

    I’d be all for an ADHD Showcase – great idea! HA! It amazes me how similar so many of us are in humor, personality, etc. Nice learning about all of you!!

    Ranger Tim
    #99668 |


    Yes. I have felt/heard/been there with you since I was a kid. I have severe ADHD, I’m in my early forties, and I finally just finished five years of college for a B.S. in Environmental Education. I declared two majors, but was unable to finish my second due to familial situations, so I graduated with my one major and with three minors to boot!

    Fortunately many colleges and universities recognize ADHD as a Learning Disability, so there are extended test times, extensions on turning in class work, counselors, etc. to help you succeed.

    ( Unlike when I first went to college in 1987. In fact, the first thing they did back then to help me was take me off the Ritalin that got me thru high school! It was believed to cause depression at late adolescence. )

    I excelled in some classes such as Animal Behavior where I scored the highest grade percentage ever posted at the school. On the other hand I passed my Advanced Algebra class by the skin of my teeth literally, because I made such an incredible effort to pass it, the professor gave me the benefit of passing with a “D” to graduate. He knew I understood the work, but wasn’t able/couldn’t focus on writing it. On the other hand I scored an “A” in Statistics, go figure. The ADHD mind is truly a mystery.

    The greatest challenge was as college progressed, so did the stress and with that the increased inability to focus. I was/am on meds and counseling, and it wasn’t enough to help the ADHD and depression that came with it. So, with all the tutoring, extensions on work, special test help, folks dictating my work, librarians sitting down with me to keep me focused on internet research, campus security helping me to find where I parked my car – I would lose it sometimes, friends making sure I ate, weekly counseling sessions, and academic guidance I found myself needing something I never had before… an assistant. And the school couldn’t provide that nor the social service folks. Yet, I found someone who met with me at breakfast to make sure I took my meds, spent three or four days a week sitting with me going over mail, homework, daily schedules, organizing my work, room, etc., and making sure I remembered important dates such as doctor appointments. It took so much to succeed, but I did, and when I crossed the graduation platform most of my graduating class stood and cheered.

    I aught to post this story by itself for folks to peruse, but my point here is – you can succeed and excel scholastically.

    – Do not use ADHD as a crutch, don’t use it as an excuse, but know your limitations on what you can succeed at and have councilors test you if you need to find out what those limits are.

    – Be patient with professors and folks that don’t understand your disability, don’t take advantage of those who do, and work with others like yourself. One of my best friends/dorm mates had/has Aspergers and we got along great and helped each other.

    – Don’t be too proud to ask for help, get as much as you can and be open to new ideas like asking the librarians if they can sit with you to stay on track while working at the library.

    – Age means nothing I started my college career in 1987 and finally graduated in 2007 with a Bachelors. Hallelujah!

    With in one year to the date of graduation I started a job as a national park ranger at Yellowstone National Park, fulfilling a life long dream. You can succeed also just have faith, patience, determination, a good sense of humor, and strong passion for what you want to excel at.

    Now, it’s on to that darn Masters degree… sigh.

    #99669 |

    wow it is amazing to hear other adhd ppl about excelling and then the slapstick personality who loves to be class clown but annoyed ppl to death but was a loyal friend..this sounds so familiar and good……i am more energetic and bubbly and lovable and the lonliness…..ugg i cant be alone it is horrid. unfortunatly the adderall and concerta made my anxiety skyrocket after it came out of my system so i had to be switched to wellbutrin and more excercise nad so far so good doesnt calm me down or narrow me in as adderall….but it is going better.

    #99670 |

    I’m too ‘all over the place’ today to read the thread (SORRY!)

    Just wanted to say that I’m in the middle of an MA. I have an extremely high IQ and ADHD. I left school with mediocre qualifications, dropped out half way through my A levels, started fallign asleep at my desk at work through boredom and did my A levels at night school. I got my degree but with terrible trouble. I worked 2 jobs during it, spent endless hours just trying to keep on top of the paperwork.

    I used to wake up in the mornings without having had enough sleep and I’d be physically jerking and shaking because my body wasn’t coping with the lack of sleep – nor the amount of caffeine I was shoving in me to focus.

    I lost my dissertation. Finally found it but it’s symptomatic of what the rest of my degree was like. I was only 1 mark off a first and it would have been a first but for some complications with group work that I couldn’t manage. :(

    I then jumped from job to job and finally I’m doing an MA.

    How’s it going? I’m failing it because all the work I did at the beginning of the course for my portfolio has ‘disappeared’ and I’m having to cram the whole year into a few weeks.

    I may scrape through. I truly hope so. I love what I’m doing. But my high IQ makes my tutors think I’m doing fine – I can talk the talk – I understand the subject inside out – but I need the written work and it’s just not happening.

    #99671 |

    By the way, I started my A levels 3 times before I finally got on to a course that I could complete. It was worth persevering.

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