To be stressed out and feel that there is never enough time to do all the assignments and readings, not missing classes, and maintain a good enough average are all normal parts of a university student’s life. But when lack of time management and organizational skills are added to this combination, it sometimes feels impossible to get through semesters.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, widely known as ADHD, affects 5% of children around the world and 4% of adults. Of the children, 8% of them will remain impaired in adolescence and a scary 60% will keep their diagnosis into adulthood. Although it is a disorder that has been widely believed to only affect children, an alarming number of adults suffer from a form of ADHD. Research into how ADHD affects college and university students has only started to emerge in the 1970s. Before that, it was believed that children “outgrew” their disability. But now we know that’s not true!

How Can ADHD Affect Academic Success?

Research has found that a majority of individuals with ADHD have the cognitive and mental capacity to succeed academically. However, the secondary behavioral and emotional symptoms of ADHD could negatively affect their academic performance:

  • Time management is one of the most important skills that college and university students should develop but ADHD can hinder that, affecting their academic performance negatively
  • Some students with ADHD achieve good grades in high school, but in college and/or university, the demands increase, and the students can’t keep up and start declining academically
  • School dropout is high among individuals with ADHD
  • Additional mental health disorders and problems with self esteem
  • Impulsive behaviors (substance abuse, automobile accidents and sustaining injuries)

ADHD and Life Satisfaction Among College/University Students

Studies have found that students who reported having symptoms of ADHD, reported lower levels of life satisfaction. Experts believe that it’s not the ADHD symptoms per se, that affect satisfaction with life; rather it’s the emotional and social symptoms associated with ADHD that negatively impact individuals. Certain symptoms play a negative role in a student’s life; self-consciousness and trouble with self-esteem, anxiety and depression are among the main issues.

Where to Get Help?

The first step is conducting a cognitive or comprehensive test for a proper diagnosis of ADHD. A comprehensive test for ADHD is done by a psychologist to assess the person’s strengths and weaknesses. Following this, the right approach and treatment can be recommended to help the student better manage the symptoms. Some schools give students with ADHD (as well as learning disabilities) extra time on tests, extension of assignment deadlines, help with note taking and possibility of being placed in a separate room during tests to minimize distractions.

Medication is a widely known and prescribed solution to ADHD. However, studies have found that combining medication with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps the students even more! Applying CBT techniques in therapy helps students 1) improve their organizational skills (and planning), 2) learn techniques of reducing distractibility and 3) improve adaptive thinking. Moreover, therapy would help students improve the following:

  • Prioritization of work
  • Time management skills
  • Completing tasks to the best of their abilities
  • Manage anxiety

If you are struggling at school (high school, college, university) but not sure whether to go for a full assessment or not, you can see our psychologist for a screening assessment to determine whether you are qualified for a full assessment or not. Call us at 514-999-3414 or email at info@montrealarttherapy.comto inquire about our assessment services at Montreal Art Therapy Centre.


Author: Mihaela Zlatnovska

Edited by: Reyhane Namdari