Last updated: February 2, 2017 This article reveals a quick story about my background with ADHD and school, how I spent many years of my life feeling “stuck” in the American school system, and eventually learned how to find success in school even with ADHD.
And, by reading the 5 tips listed in this article, you will also learn how to overcome the struggles of the American school system – even with ADHD.
Okay, time for a quick story:
How I Always Knew That I Had ADHD In School
I remember trying my best to follow along in my 4th grade math class, as my teacher performed simple long division problems on the whiteboard.
Those simple math problems blew my mind at the time:
- I couldn’t process the numbers
- I couldn’t pass her math quizzes without cheating
- And for some reason, I felt like I couldn’t get help
I felt like I was stuck in a black hole when it came time to do anything using the left (logical) side of my brain.
I just couldn’t focus on subjects in school that didn’t interest me. It legitimately felt impossible to me, as if my brain just couldn’t comprehend what was happening.
But, I found ways to compensate.
Take less math classes, focus on the arts.
Eventually, I made it through school (after lots of struggles and confusion).
And, now that I’m out of college, and have dedicated lots of time to understanding how my own ADHD brain works, I’ve discovered the best set of strategies for you to make it through school with ADHD too (I want to help you).
How to Make it Through Middle School, High School or College with ADHD
After spending years of my life barely scraping by in school, I’ve developed some of the very best tricks and strategies for surviving school with ADHD.
So, here are the 5 tips that you need for school if you have ADHD.
These 5 tips can set you free, and help you finally achieve focus in your academic career:
Tip 1. Visualize the exact end result that you want to achieve
To make it through school with ADHD, you have to start thinking about the end-goal that you want to achieve.
You have to actually visualize yourself succeeding at whatever your focus is. For example:
- You might want to work a certain job that you enjoy after graduation
- Or, if you’re just getting started with university, you might want to be accepted into a selective college, pass a certain test, or get a particular degree
- You might even just want to make it through high school, and get school over with for good.
The good news is that whatever you can visualize yourself doing is 100% attainable.
But, you have to create a vision of the goal that you want to achieve, in order for your goal to become a reality.
Practice the art of visualization right now – as wacky as it sounds. It will genuinely help you succeed. I promise you this.
Tip 2. Focus on your strengths in school
You have the ability to take one subject, hobby, art form or idea, and commit to it while you’re in school.
And, as long as you’re focusing on a strength of yours while in school, you’ll probably learn to love it.
I mean, you’re free to focus on whatever it is that you want in the world. So, why wouldn’t you focus on one of your strengths?
Just eliminate those weaknesses from your life already!
As long as you’re somewhat talented at whatever it is that you’re focusing on, I’ve found that those with ADHD will move to the point of obsession with their strength.
I’m not sure why this happens. But, I think it’s because we experience a certain threshold of neuroticism as ADHDers, and so much stuff doesn’t really “work” with our brains.
But, once we do finally find something that just “clicks,” all of a sudden we realize that there is something of value that we can offer to the world.
Assuming that you live in the Western world, you have an abundance of amazing opportunities available to you (which most people will still complain about – and to that, I suggest taking a trip to Africa/Asia and seeing how most of the world lives).
You also have the opportunity to pursue just about any career, path or area of studies that you choose.
I would go as far as to say that people living in America with ADHD have it easy compared to those in so many other parts of the world.
So, focus on one of your strengths in school, and I can almost guarantee that you will learn to love your strength.
For more on this topic, make sure to read my article on The 3 Secrets to Success with ADHD.
Tip 3. Understand how your brain works
You need to become aware of your brain chemistry and psychology to the best of your ability.
Just try your best to understand how all of it works.
Because, knowing how your brain works will also help you understand how ADHD can make school difficult for you.
I am not a medical professional. So, I obviously do not have a full understanding of how the human brain operates in a way that a doctor would. But, as a business professional, I am required to have a fair understanding of human psychology, and know how the brain operates at a basic level.
The absolute most important thing for you to know about the human brain is the following:
Your brain has a tendency to constantly revert back to a state of homeostasis.
This means that your brain constantly plays evil tricks on you in order to get you to take shortcuts, come up with excuses, and basically avoid focusing on the things you want to accomplish in school. This is a core biological instinct from thousands of years ago, which humans are still stuck with to this day.
Reverting to homeostasis used to be a really helpful strategy back when we were roaming around the earth as cavemen. Because, food was scarce, and humans needed to conserve every single calorie of energy that we could muster in order to fight for our lives (this is an oversimplification – but you hopefully get the basic concept).
In other words, homeostasis (the act of being ultra-conservative with energy) was useful for when we were actually competing against other animals, and even against other human tribes in order to eat, sleep and successfully reproduce.
Today, homeostasis isn’t doing you any favors.
To put it simply, your brain is actively working against you all the time because of homeostasis (it’s naturally ingrained in your DNA).
So, you have to constantly take action against homeostasis in order to make it through school.
Tip 4. Learn how to fight back against your reptilian brain
Hopefully, you now understand that human beings are still extremely primal. Your subconscious mind (also considered your lizard brain) is constantly reverting back to a state of homeostasis.
Your brain is constantly looking for excuses, shortcuts and “lifehacks” to take the easy way out.
This happens because your brain wants you to conserve as much of your energy as possible, all the time, since we still haven’t transitioned out of the primal state of homeostasis as a species just yet.
But, you have to fight this.
You have to put forth a conscious effort to make real changes in your life, and attack your central focus while in school (whatever it may be).
There’s honestly no easy way to do this. But, I will say that simply knowing about homeostasis and the “lizard brain” has been a huge motivator for me.
When you understand that your brain is actively working against you, it makes it much easier to push through the mental pain, and focus on whatever it is that you need to dedicate your time to while in school.
At the end of the day, you simply have to make a conscious commitment to follow out your life’s mission/vision/focus with vigor.
Especially when it comes to taking care of classwork and your studies.
Tip 5. Practice being persistent
Practicing persistence is key to achieving success in school.
If you can make going to class, studying, or attending tutoring sessions a regular habit in your life, then you will make school a much easier process.
Set up a schedule for yourself. Make sure to go to class every time. And, please just do the homework. Get it over with, and get it done. Once your homework is done, you’ll never have to worry about it again (until the next assignment, of course).
Persistence is amazingly effective, and it’s a skill that you have to practice just like anything else in life.
If there’s one skill that I recommend that people with ADHD practice – it’s persistence, every single time. Persistence will take you far in life.
ADHD and School Conclusion
Overall, if you can follow the 5 tips listed in this article, I’m confident that you’ll become a happier, healthier and more successful student with ADHD.
If you have any other tips that you’d like to suggest for conquering ADHD and school, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.