University is a daunting experience for any student; the unfamiliar environment, cultural diversity, and high academic demands are enough to overwhelm anyone.
But the standards are even higher for students with ADHD.
Despite the large number of University students with ADHD, only a few of these institutions have the structures to help you plow through the university experience.
The challenge here is recognizing the universities with the support structures you need, and how to make the best use of these structures.
Based on personal experience, expert opinion, and existing university structures, I have written a list of requirements to consider when applying for university.
How To Choose An Appropriate University
Unlike high school, where you enjoy a mandated support structure, and your attention span is considered, University is a larger, more diversified institution.
Universities cater to a larger number of students than your high school did, and most of these students have their own uniquenesses. These schools admit students from different parts of the country (and overseas), bringing their cultural diversities, societal expectations, and natural inclinations to the same institutions.
Since universities are not legally compelled to have Individual Education Plans (IEP) or 504 Plans, the structure is merely designed to accommodate everyone with their special requirements without giving preference to any individual student. This means that while the university would not make your stay unbearable, it is not mandated to provide you with any special privileges.
Some universities, however, put enough consideration into creating special programs and instituting unique support structures for the diversities they have admitted, and these are the ones you should be applying to.
Here are 5 essential factors to consider as you decide the university you would be applying to this year; your chance of a comfortable university experience depends on them:
Academic Support Structure
Depending on where you are on the ADHD spectrum, academic work can be quite challenging. If you experience inattentive ADHD, even the easiest homework might seem arduous and impossible – and that would not be a good look at your GPA.
When applying to university, you need to consider the support system they have in place for someone like you. Some universities provide academic aids for students with ADHD like extended time to complete tests and assignments, reduced course load, alternative assessments, or even permission to take assessments at an alternative time.
These structures can also come with individual accountability systems, liaisons with Professors and Teaching Assistants, or even tutoring centers just to keep tabs on your academic progress.
It is also necessary to ask about class sizes. The population of people in the same room as you plays a vital role in your focus, and this quantity has to factor in your choice.
Choose a university that provides enough room for you to manage your attention while also ensuring that your academic standing is not affected.
Suppose, like most ADHD students, you need to manage your attention and energy levels by engaging in other activities. In that case, you need to confirm that the university permits your preferred extracurricular activities.
Research shows that extracurricular activities help manage the attention span of students with ADHD. The activities are, however, based on the student’s preferences.
While most institutions make adequate provisions for conventional activities like sports, cultural clubs, and other team-based activities, your preference might defer. Your choice activities may be more individual-oriented or less traditional, like video games or some form of collectibles to manage your focus.
You should apply to universities that make provision for your extracurriculars and recognize them as part of your standard activities, perhaps even give you credits for them.
Counseling or Mental Health Facilities
This may seem like overkill since there is already so much buzz about mental health. However, your requirement for these facilities is quite pressing.
While your extracurricular activities are excellent ways to manage your focus, your experience with ADHD still requires the best care and medication.
The university may not have a certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT), but having a counselor to discuss your experience with or guide you through your daily academic progress despite ADHD might be the defining factor for your university days.
Frequent access to a counselor, coupled with a supportive community and a place to refill your prescriptions, would also help manage your accountability to your schoolwork and cognitive progress.
Like other items on this list, you may need special consideration before using these facilities, but their availability must be a deciding factor in your choice.
Since you are moving to a relatively new environment and surrounded by people you were not previously acquainted with, your living conditions must be well considered.
Every university student understands that your living space plays a significant role in your school experience. This is even more evident in the schooling of students with ADHD.
Unlike home, where everyone is working in concert to make sure you are comfortable, you are mostly your advocate in the university.
It is, therefore, necessary that you position yourself in the most convenient and nurturing environment. Be prepared for all kinds of situations by packing things in case of an emergency. You can check out the most forgotten college essentials to ensure that you are ahead of the rest of your housemates, roommates, and classmates.
You need to make inquiries about the available accommodations and find the best fit for yourself.
While some students are comfortable sharing living space and communal bathrooms, you might need something more private. Andrew Chell is renowned for providing accessible, all-inclusive living space for a wide range of students. It is one of your surest bets to find suitable accommodation.
How well do you get immersed in your environment, and how does it affect your focus?
This is another critical question to ask when applying to university. It is necessary to recognize that you are more susceptible to your environment than most of your colleagues.
Where most students can quickly acquaint themselves with their environment and adapt to the flow of people around them, you may need to look at things a little differently. Like most students with ADHD, your environment plays a prominent role in your focus, and this time it might be more than the university campus.
Do you think you can adapt to the bustling city life that some campuses offer? You may enjoy the noisy city and find it to be an excellent learning environment, instead of the quiet secluded spaces that some people prefer.
Finding out what kind of environment the university is located in and how it can affect your focus is a primary consideration when making your choice.
While this is a comprehensive list, it is also quite generalized. The items listed here would be eternally relevant to your decision-making, but you still need to work with your preference. Consult with your career counselor and ask questions from the university representatives to make a more informed decision.