To assist students in choosing the right college or university to meet their needs and their level of self-regulation, consider the following:
- Ask the student what support might be useful at college. Oftentimes students don’t know what is available at the college level and appreciate guidance when exploring prospective schools and programs.
- Discuss the process of obtaining accommodations at the college level and if you are not sure of the details, refer the student to SPED or to an outside specialized college counselor.
- Suggest that the student research each college of interest – what is the level of support for students with ADHD and what will it take to get support and/or accommodations at each school.
- Encourage students to visit a limited number of schools to start out. Too many choices can be stressful and add to the emotional dysregulation/overwhelm.
- Discuss what is important for each student to learn while on campus, beyond accommodations for their academic needs. Examples of these areas include:
- Size of the college or university
- Urban, suburban, or rural – what is most comfortable?
- Distance from home
- Layout of the campus – do the “Goldilocks test”. Is the school too big, too small or just right?
- Housing and dining options
- Sports and recreation choices
- Clubs – academic, social, religious
- Suggest that the student visit Student Support Services on campus. It is important to make an appointment in advance of the visit. Note that colleges use a variety of names to identify their support services: writing center, coaching, counseling, tutoring, disability services, help with accommodations.
As defined earlier in this article, self-regulation is a skill necessary for reliable emotional well-being. Self-esteem and self-confidence also play an important part in emotional growth. Students who feel good about themselves, are self-aware and comfortable in social situations have an easier rollout into college. When working with students with ADHD and executive functioning issues, notice how the student relates to others, self-advocates, and is able to see at least part of the bigger picture, the end goal. You might consider referring a student to a coach to prepare for the transition to college. Coaching is a valuable intervention for students who need to strengthen these areas before classes start and during their college matriculation. The coach provides structure and support while helping students identify areas of strength and areas requiring skill building and strategies for success. With increased skill, will, and self-regulation, students with ADHD and low scores on self-regulation can learn to thrive and flourish beyond high school.