College can be both an exciting and challenging time. Some students gradually build their independence before they leave for college and have a good understanding of what it takes to succeed in life away from home. Others, especially those with executive functioning challenges and other symptoms of ADHD may find themselves lost, overwhelmed, or impulsively moving in the wrong direction when they are on their own for the first time.

Parents are no longer around to cook for them, help with laundry, advocate for them in school, help with homework, or ask, “Did you start your paper?” Professors are very different from high school teachers who may offer reminders and break assignments up into manageable chunks. Students with attention deficit disorder can encounter great difficulty when it comes to keeping track of what they need to do, finishing work on time, taking care of their personal needs, and balancing social and academic life. And living in a dorm presents another set of challenges with the partying, distractions, and temptations of drugs and alcohol.

Most students with ADHD are extremely bright, but may still find themselves struggling with the demands of college life. ADD coaching can help them develop their own structures and learn to plan, prioritize, and follow through. Working with a coach helps people learn the skills of self-observation so they can know how attention deficit disorder impacts them and what works best for their particular situation and brain wiring. Where is the best place to study? Everyone is different and some people actually focus better with noise and activity around them. They find it easier to absorb what they are reading in a busy environment and feel restless and uncomfortable in quiet settings. Others need absolute stillness around them and even find a library with whispers and the sounds of pages turning too distracting. Where can students find help when they don’t understand the material? An ADHD coach can help clients find the courage it takes to advocate for themselves and connect with their professors if they are struggling.

As well as working on the practical aspects of life, coaching can help students learn how to understand and lessen negative habits, such as procrastination, that may be holding them back. Some clients find that waiting until the last minute helps them focus better, but this can include an element of panic or anxiety. And things can happen the night before a paper is due that make finishing it impossible. Students may wish they spent more time on an assignment because they know their grade would have been better or they discover they actually enjoyed the research and writing. They didn’t get a chance to really delve into the material because they were in such a hurry. Whether procrastination is a habit or there is a reason behind it, a coach can help the student understand and work with their avoidance.

Stress almost always makes ADHD symptoms worse. Working with a coach can help young adults take better care of themselves and learn to recognize and change situations and self-talk that have a negative impact on their lives. As an ADD/ADHD coach who is also a certified stress reduction coach, I’ve worked with college students to help them manage a variety of stressors from being sleep deprived to coping with test anxiety to skipping classes to feeling so overwhelmed they don’t know where to start.

If you or your child would like to explore how ADHD coaching for college students can help, please contact me for a free consultation. I offer coaching in my Seattle office as well as by phone all over the country. Some of my clients are new to college, some have been in school for a while but find themselves needing extra support, and still others are living at home building study skills while attending community college. I look forward to hearing from you!

Mimi Handlin, MSW, is a certified Life and ADHD Coach. She has been coaching in Seattle and nationwide since 2003 and has a special interest in coaching women, college students, and young adults to help them live with more direction and success.

As well as helping her clients gain more control over the practical aspects of life, she is also a certified stress reduction coach and teaches interested clients skills in self-care, self-awareness, and relaxation to improve their well-being and better manage adult ADHD symptoms. Mimi is compassionate, non-judgmental, supportive, and flexible in her approach to coaching. If you are interested in learning how ADHD coaching can help you or a loved one, please schedule a free consultation below.
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