Study Tips for ADHD College Students

by Dr. Tali Shenfield, Clinical Psychologist

While ADHD can be a burden, it’s better work with your mind than against it. Studying harder isn’t always the best option while studying smarter certainly is. So, if you’re having difficulty studying, then maybe it’s time to get creative.

Here are some tips that you can use to make study easier and more fun.

1. Act don’t react.

Reacting to situations and letting them run your life is a common problem, and not just among people with ADHD. It’s so common, in fact that the old three step process: problem – reaction – solution is commonly used in advertising. Give somebody a problem and get them to react by buying your product in attempt to solve the problem you just gave them. So, you must decide whether you want to be proactive and run your life or let your life run you.

One way to take control is to set aside time to plan. Give yourself a chance to sit down and plan out at least the major things to be done that week. Then fill in the details over breakfast every morning, so you know what’s happening that day. This enables you to prioritize and not get stuck in reacting to circumstances as they come up.

2. Now that you’ve got a plan, stick to it.

The next big step is sticking to your plan. One of the best ways to do this is to prioritize. Know what needs to be accomplished that day. If something you didn’t plan for comes up, it gets pushed down the line in priority.

3. Reward yourself.

When you accomplish what you’ve set out to do, then give yourself a reward of something that you enjoy. A trip to the coffee shop or a movie. Whatever it may be, the reward should not be open ended, it should have a beginning middle and end. And feel free to negotiate good grade rewards with your parents.

4. Add structure.

It’s important to give yourself structured study time. If it works for you then study with other students. It’s harder to wander when you have other people to measure up to. Tutoring is another way to add structure. While you may not need a tutor, coaching is a great way to help build some rails that you can use to run on.

5. Use what works for you.

While doodling in your notebook is generally frowned upon, it can help you remember. Try it, if it works, use it. You can try making audio notes on a recorder or iphone for later review or use different color highlighters to highlight text. Try standing up while you read or moving around while you listen to your recorded notes. Reading out loud in an expressive voice can also help. So can listening to an audio book while you walk on a treadmill or take notes. Feel free to experiment and use what works for you.

6. Get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep ruins concentration and makes study all that more difficult.

7. Treat college as if it was a job. Plan to spend at least forty hours a week either in class or studying. Go at it at least five days a week and give yourself the weekend off as a reward. You may have to plan around sports activities, but always put in the required hours, just like a job.

8. Use ADHD college coaching.

By being coached, you learn how to coach yourself. It’s a matter of building certain skills and becoming self sufficient. In many cases, coaches will work over the phone, so you can actually take your coach wherever you go.

Remember that it is easier for a person with ADHD to fall behind. It’s easier to keep up if you get a head start. It’s much easier than trying to catch up later. So, use these tips to give yourself an edge and make your college years productive and happy.

Author Bio: Dr. Tali Shenfield is a Clinical Psychologist and a Director of Richmond Hill Psychology Center. She is a member of the Canadian Psychological Association and Ontario College of Psychologists. She has been helping ADHD patients for over 15 years and considered an expert in ADD and ADHD. When is not busy with psychological assessments and psychotherapy, she is writing on various parenting and psychological topics. You can visit her professional blog here.

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