Last updated: September 24th, 2019
When I was 18 years old, I imagined that college would be a non-stop party. In many ways, college definitely was the easiest time in my life to have fun, meet new people, and learn cool new things. But, when you have ADHD, college isn’t always a 100% joyful experience.
If you have ADHD, and you’re currently enrolled in college, then you’ll still need all of the advantages that you can get.
So, this article reveals 10 authentic “life hacks” that every college student with ADHD needs to know (I wish I knew these “life hacks” going into college)…
1. Show your college advisor plenty of love
Most college students aren’t aware of the enormous power that your college advisor has over your life.
For example, if you treat your college advisor extremely well, then she can probably hook you up with the best professors, ideal class schedules, internship opportunities, and various other little “tricks” of the trade.
But, if you don’t treat your college advisor very well, she’ll probably still take care of you…although she won’t exactly prioritize your needs.
So, if you’d prefer to take the best classes with the best professors, then it’s a good idea to treat your college advisor really, really well.
You might even want to bring her some food on occasion 😉
2. Get lots of sleep, because it could potentially save your life
Most college students convince themselves that they can get away with pulling all-nighters, sleeping for 6 and 1/2 hours per night, and then partying all weekend.
In reality, yes, you can probably get away with getting bare-minimum amounts of sleep during your college career, and there’s a good chance that nothing horrible will happen to you.
But, there’s literally no reason to skip out on sleep.
I’m convinced that most college students with ADHD can sleep 7 or 8 hours per night, make decent grades, eat healthy, and have a social life.
College can definitely be challenging. But, you should still have plenty of time to sleep throughout your college career.
For some reason, college students are pressured (usually by other peers) into believing that they “don’t have time to sleep”.
I was the same way. And, I regret it.
I regret pulling countless all-nighters, because I now realize that poor sleep has been linked to poor cognitive performance, dementia, and even brain damage.
Students with ADHD need to get plenty of high-quality sleep in order to think and feel their best.
Now, I get 8 or 9 hours of sleep most nights, and I absolutely love sleep. Good sleep is a priority in my life. I recommend that you develop great sleep habits too, since getting plenty of sleep will most likely help you think more clearly, earn better grades in school, and simply live a better life in general.
3. Don’t give away your ADHD medication
If there’s a perfect time to take ADHD medication – then it’s going to be during college. Under the supervision of a doctor, of course.
But, surprise surprise: If fellow students find out that you take ADHD medication, they’re going to ask you for some.
Luckily, the solution to this problem is super simple.
Just don’t tell people that you take ADHD medication (unless you absolutely trust that person).
And, don’t give away your ADHD medication under any circumstances. It’s just not worth the risk.
If someone feels like they might have ADHD, then you can always refer them to my list of resources for adults with ADHD. Or, you can teach them how to get a prescription for ADHD medication the right way.
4. Just go to class (skipping class is rarely worth it)
There are going to be days where you just don’t feel like going to class. Your ADHD brain will probably try to convince you that skipping class is the “easy way out”.
But, trust me when I say that you don’t want to skip your college classes…
Skipping class can easily make you feel anxious about whatever you happened to miss in class that day.
You also won’t gain any extra points with your professors or fellow students when you skip class frequently.
I promise you that it’s MUCH easier to just show up in class, take some good notes, and enjoy the rest of your day knowing that you don’t have to deal with the fear of missing out (FOMO).
5. You must maintain the friendships and relationships that you develop while in college
You’re going to spend thousands of hours developing amazing relationships with people while in college.
So, I want you to make sure that you maintain those relationships to the best of your ability.
Because, the truth is that people typically “go their own way” after graduating from college. This is totally normal. People move around, get married, find jobs in new cities, and join different social circles.
But, thanks to FaceTime, WhatsApp, and Skype – it’s super easy to stay in touch with the people who you care about.
You have to make an effort to savor the friendships and relationships that you develop while in college. You’re going to invest thousands of hours into developing awesome relationships. And, you probably don’t want to waste all of that time, right?
The reason why I’m making this a point is because there’s something about having ADHD that makes it far too easy to impulsively cut people out of your life. This is not a good thing.
I promise you that the best part about life is always going to be the experiences that you share with people.
So, make some awesome friends while you’re in college. And, make sure to take really good care of your friends.
I truly hope that your college friends do the same for you.
6. Take advantage of clubs, group sports, organizations, and people-oriented activities
College is by far one of the easiest opportunities that you’ll ever have for meeting cool new people.
Think about it:
When you attend the same college as someone, you immediately share a common bond with that person, which gives both of you something interesting to talk about.
But, you still have to put in a little bit of effort to meet new people while in college.
You still have to join clubs, participate in group sports, and connect with new people. This will be worth it.
Best of all, most college activities are extremely fun to participate in.
My most memorable college experiences almost entirely consisted of “group activities” like:
- Date parties, river float trips, and party bus “adventures”
- Business competitions, entrepreneurship meet-ups, and fraternity get-togethers
- Water polo matches, soccer games, and dancing
You can probably find activities exactly like these and so much more on your college campus.
Go ahead and seize the opportunity to have as much fun and meet as many quality people as you can while in college.
College is one of the easiest opportunities that you’ll ever have to connect with awesome people.
Pro tip: You definitely don’t have to join a sorority or fraternity if you don’t want to. But, Greek organizations are usually the easiest way to immediately connect with a massive social circle. Having immediate access to a great group of friends is something that can help with ADHD tremendously. This is why I always tell people with ADHD to “meet and greet” different Greek houses. You can always just see if you “connect” with a certain Greek organization on your campus. You have nothing to lose. If you feel like there’s a fun and positive vibe in a certain Greek community that can improve your quality of life, that’s when you should consider joining a Greek organization.
7. Your grades probably don’t matter as much as you think they do
I had a pretty horrific grade point average (GPA) when I was accepted into the most competitive entrepreneurship internship at my university.
Somehow, I managed to “vibe” with my interviewer, and we just connected really well. She probably gave me the job because she liked me as a person. Or maybe I just got really lucky. I guess I’ll never really know for sure…
Either way, this experience showed me that most people probably don’t care all that much about the grades that you make in college (even if they say they do).
I think this happens because most people realize that your college grades are just a reflection of how well you can memorize material from a textbook.
In other words, your college grades aren’t a big deal in the real world.
(Although, I’ll admit that my grades became significantly better once I started taking ADHD medication during my final two semesters in college. There’s nothing wrong with making great grades.)
Of course, if you need to get accepted into a competitive medical school or law school in the future, this is totally different. Your grades will definitely matter in this type of scenario. And, I would urge you to make the best grades possible if this is the case.
But, if you’re just an ordinary college student who wants to earn a basic Bachelor’s degree, then your grades are not going to be a major indicator of your success in life.
And, this is just my opinion, but I actually believe that students with ADHD should prioritize developing social skills, emotional intelligence (EQ), and creative talents above all else.
Because, as the future becomes more technology-oriented (i.e. automated by robots) – I truly believe that social skills, emotional intelligence, and creativity will be extremely important to your personal success.
Interestingly, research even suggests that people with ADHD may show increased right-brain asymmetry. The right side of your brain is often referred to as the “creative side” of your brain. So, if you’re a student with ADHD, there’s already a chance that you’re a natural-born creative.
Stay focused on your EQ, not IQ, and you will do extremely well for yourself.
8. Life gets even better after college
Most people say that college is the best time of your life.
I definitely understand why people say this, because college truly is an amazing time. When you’re 18 to 23 years old, you’re young, energetic, and unjaded by the harshness of adult life.
But, did you know that life gets even better after college – if you play your cards right?
You can have an awesome time in college and enjoy an amazing life after college, too.
The key is to start preparing for your future right this second.
While you’re in college, now is the perfect time to create a vision for your life, so that you can start pursuing your dreams as early as possible.
College is also a great time to date different people, launch a business, write a book, pursue your passion, travel the world, or do virtually anything that you want. Doing these types of things while you’re in college can “set you up” for an even more exciting life after college.
When you’re young, you have the ability to take some risks, try new things, and screw up a few times…
But, you have to start preparing for your future right now to enjoy a lifetime of fun and happiness.
9. Keep your student loan debt to a minimum
Student loan debt really sucks.
If you haven’t taken out any student loans yet, then I urge you to stay far away from student loans whenever possible.
If you absolutely need student loans, then you shouldn’t borrow more than $50,000 for the duration of your college career.
I figure that $50,000 is about the maximum amount of cash that any college student should borrow, because paying back $50,000 isn’t going to ruin you financially.
Real financial problems tend to happen when you borrow $150,000 or more. This is actually a relatively common occurrence, believe it or not.
Just ask students who attend private universities how much they pay per year for tuition, housing, and food costs.
So, please imagine a future where you’re forced to pay back thousands of dollars every single month for a number of years. This is called paying back massive student loan debt. And it’s not fun.
You should avoid going into student loan debt whenever possible.
Pro tip: Apply for every legitimate college scholarship that you can find. Work one of the ideal jobs for people with ADHD in your free time. Attend a college in your state, so that you qualify for in-state tuition rates. There are plenty of ways to get a nice college degree without taking on heavy student loan debt.
10. You have to enjoy the moment
People with ADHD frequently suffer from racing thoughts. This tends to happen because people with ADHD have overactive minds. There’s a chance that you constantly think about future events that don’t even exist yet (don’t worry, this is common in people with ADHD).
And, while it’s definitely important to plan for the future, you also have to enjoy the moment, and embrace the fact that you’re young, free, and alive.
When you’re in your twenties, time flies by really quickly. And, your twenties is one of the absolute best decades of your life.
So, I recommend that you practice the following activities in order to get better at “enjoying the moment”…
- Meditate daily (become more present to the moment)
- Do deep breathing exercises (check in to reality)
- Practice gratitude (be happy that you’re young and alive)
- Embrace your health (exercise, eat healthy, and prolong the energy that you feel in your twenties)
Your college years are an amazing time.
So, plan for the future, but don’t get overly caught up with thinking about the past or the future.
Because for now, the present moment is all that you truly have (so enjoy it).
College is an amazing yet challenging time in your life.
Because when you’re dealing with ADHD, you’ll probably need to commit extra effort to staying organized, showing up to class on time, making decent grades, and having a quality social life.
You may need to work harder than the average student at your college. But, you’ll develop more grit and resilience as a result of this.
I wish you the best of luck during your college career.
Do you have any other tips that you’d like to share with college students who have ADHD?
Make sure to add your suggestions to the comments section below.