View Full Version : Tips for Struggling Through College? Help!


Darth Kool-Aid
12-01-14, 03:30 PM
Hello, everyone.

I am new to this forum and I came here because I couldn't find anyone who could offer me helpful advice.

I'm a senior in college and I struggle enormously with things I feel are easy for everyone else (I have ADD, of course). I am chronically late to class and even when I try to get up and leave on time I somehow never arrive on time. Over the years I've had several professors yell at me or dock my grade because of my tardiness. I might have had a 4.0 if I could have just arrived on time for my classes. Today I've been late for the nth time and caught my professor shooting daggers at me from across the room. Last week another professor yelled at me in front of the class. It really damages my self-esteem, and I hate myself because I can't be on time.

But I can never get up, even if I set 10 alarms! My brain gets used to the noise or something, and I sleep right through it. I am so tired all the time and I struggle being awake until 10PM... THEN I'm awake. I leave without makeup or eating breakfast but I'm still late.

Most people give the standard advice: eat well, get organized, get enough sleep, don't overbook yourself! But how are these things even possible when trying to plow through college? I would love to get 8 hours of sleep a night, but unfortunately because of my course load I can barely manage 5, at most. I also have to work two jobs (one for money, the other is an internship) and so I have no free time at all. If my brain worked properly I feel like I could use my spare time to get work done like normal people, but I get so distracted and I end up having to stay up incredibly late to finish homework, thus feeding the cycle. Additionally I am only taking the minimum 12 hours, which makes me feel like a failure because my other classmates can always handle more. I don't have any social life and use all my spare time studying, and yet I'm still struggling to turn in papers on time (most of the time, my assignments are tardy. Grade deduction, right there).

But everyone here must struggle through the same issues. Please, is there any way to deal with this issue, from one ADHD-er to another? I'm tired of the impossible advice to "sleep well, take on less work" when these things are literally impossible for people in college. I'm tired of feeling like a failure. Help??

Pilgrim
12-01-14, 07:20 PM
One thing I can think of is you telling your professors what your problem is.

Darth Kool-Aid
12-01-14, 10:51 PM
One thing I can think of is you telling your professors what your problem is.

I've never thought of doing that before I read this forum. For some reason I always thought of it as a lame excuse, and people would see it as me trying to get out of being responsible. I don't want to feel like I'm being babied. But if it works, I'm willing to try it. Have you tried that?

Khyliene
12-01-14, 11:23 PM
Hello, everyone.

I am new to this forum and I came here because I couldn't find anyone who could offer me helpful advice.

I'm a senior in college and I struggle enormously with things I feel are easy for everyone else (I have ADD, of course). I am chronically late to class and even when I try to get up and leave on time I somehow never arrive on time. Over the years I've had several professors yell at me or dock my grade because of my tardiness. I might have had a 4.0 if I could have just arrived on time for my classes. Today I've been late for the nth time and caught my professor shooting daggers at me from across the room. Last week another professor yelled at me in front of the class. It really damages my self-esteem, and I hate myself because I can't be on time.

But I can never get up, even if I set 10 alarms! My brain gets used to the noise or something, and I sleep right through it. I am so tired all the time and I struggle being awake until 10PM... THEN I'm awake. I leave without makeup or eating breakfast but I'm still late.

Most people give the standard advice: eat well, get organized, get enough sleep, don't overbook yourself! But how are these things even possible when trying to plow through college? I would love to get 8 hours of sleep a night, but unfortunately because of my course load I can barely manage 5, at most. I also have to work two jobs (one for money, the other is an internship) and so I have no free time at all. If my brain worked properly I feel like I could use my spare time to get work done like normal people, but I get so distracted and I end up having to stay up incredibly late to finish homework, thus feeding the cycle. Additionally I am only taking the minimum 12 hours, which makes me feel like a failure because my other classmates can always handle more. I don't have any social life and use all my spare time studying, and yet I'm still struggling to turn in papers on time (most of the time, my assignments are tardy. Grade deduction, right there).

But everyone here must struggle through the same issues. Please, is there any way to deal with this issue, from one ADHD-er to another? I'm tired of the impossible advice to "sleep well, take on less work" when these things are literally impossible for people in college. I'm tired of feeling like a failure. Help??

I can't give you a lot of advice, for one I'm struggling in college myself and am trying to find solutions to that huge issue. But, I can share with you what I am finding is starting to work for me and maybe it might help you, as well.

One, you have to quit comparing yourself to other people, for our brains are wired differently than other people. So, it would be equivalent to comparing apples to oranges. Taking twelve credits while working two jobs is a heavy load. It is doable if you properly pace yourself and learn to prioritize which is easier said than done!

Two, sleep for our brains is important; I know it is for me. If I don't achieve at least six hours of good rest I'm useless the next day and my ADHD is at its worst. I use to fall asleep by eight pm and nap until ten pm.....only to be wide awake the rest of the night. Not good. So, we must break that sleep pattern by not napping during the evening so we can sleep peacefully when it's bedtime. I take melatonin which gently puts me to sleep and I'm wide awake when the alarm goes off the next morning. I take methylphenidate so that screws with my sleeping pattern big time.

I found out if I ate dinner or anything really after seven pm I will fall asleep no matter what needs to be done. So, I know I have to avoid snacking, late dinners and comfy couches and warm soft beds when I have work to complete. When I start to get sleepy I try to drink water or something cool. This doesn't work for everyone but it does at times works for me. If sleep is too strong to remain awake, then there is no reason to keep fooling myself: just go to bed!

Some people here have said writing out a schedule helps them stay on task especially if they have short breaks and small rewards integrated within the schedule. I love planners and filling them out: just horrible at following my own schedule!

Are you on any medicine like ritalin or Adderall? if you don't want to take a stimulant you could try Strattera. I can't give you advice on which medication to take because I'm not a doctor but I also understand that some people just are adamant against medication and I respect that.

I don't believe you are a failure at all. You just have a huge elephant before you that you know you have to eat. And the best way to eat something that large is one bite at a time.

I don't know if I was any help. But please keep us posted on your progression. It's each other's testimonies that helps all of us through our ADHD puzzle.

Khyliene
12-01-14, 11:26 PM
I've never thought of doing that before I read this forum. For some reason I always thought of it as a lame excuse, and people would see it as me trying to get out of being responsible. I don't want to feel like I'm being babied. But if it works, I'm willing to try it. Have you tried that?

I have. I ended up with extensions to finish my work up to thirty days. Most professors are really understanding and will go out of their way to help you. Some are jerks and couldn't care less. Your university should also provide accommodations for you as well.

Pilgrim
12-02-14, 05:13 AM
I've never thought of doing that before I read this forum. For some reason I always thought of it as a lame excuse, and people would see it as me trying to get out of being responsible. I don't want to feel like I'm being babied. But if it works, I'm willing to try it. Have you tried that?

From your story that's the thing I would definitely do. I never did it and wished I had, no matter what.

Lizzie80
12-03-14, 01:27 AM
Hello, everyone.

I am new to this forum and I came here because I couldn't find anyone who could offer me helpful advice.

I'm a senior in college and I struggle enormously with things I feel are easy for everyone else (I have ADD, of course). I am chronically late to class and even when I try to get up and leave on time I somehow never arrive on time. Over the years I've had several professors yell at me or dock my grade because of my tardiness. I might have had a 4.0 if I could have just arrived on time for my classes. Today I've been late for the nth time and caught my professor shooting daggers at me from across the room. Last week another professor yelled at me in front of the class. It really damages my self-esteem, and I hate myself because I can't be on time.

But I can never get up, even if I set 10 alarms! My brain gets used to the noise or something, and I sleep right through it. I am so tired all the time and I struggle being awake until 10PM... THEN I'm awake. I leave without makeup or eating breakfast but I'm still late.

Most people give the standard advice: eat well, get organized, get enough sleep, don't overbook yourself! But how are these things even possible when trying to plow through college? I would love to get 8 hours of sleep a night, but unfortunately because of my course load I can barely manage 5, at most. I also have to work two jobs (one for money, the other is an internship) and so I have no free time at all. If my brain worked properly I feel like I could use my spare time to get work done like normal people, but I get so distracted and I end up having to stay up incredibly late to finish homework, thus feeding the cycle. Additionally I am only taking the minimum 12 hours, which makes me feel like a failure because my other classmates can always handle more. I don't have any social life and use all my spare time studying, and yet I'm still struggling to turn in papers on time (most of the time, my assignments are tardy. Grade deduction, right there).

But everyone here must struggle through the same issues. Please, is there any way to deal with this issue, from one ADHD-er to another? I'm tired of the impossible advice to "sleep well, take on less work" when these things are literally impossible for people in college. I'm tired of feeling like a failure. Help??

Hello. I'm just finishing up my fourth semester in college and think it's pretty darn awesome that you got to senior status. :yes: A LOT of people don't make it through freshman year, let alone get to the point you have! I'm taking a guess that like most of us with ADD, you're a perfectionist and insanely hard on yourself. Even if you got plenty of praise from others, which I doubt (knowing how people can be...), we don't tend to hear that applause very loudly. The idea of "everyone" around but you being able to handle things as well as you think they might are not true, though. Trust me. I'm a professional organizer, I have ADD, and I'm a member of an International Honors Society. I've worked with people who hoard, the chronically-disorganized, and those who have ADD. I've consulted with people in their 70s, and I started working with a 12-year-old who struggles with ADD. That one theme, "Everyone but me copes with life and gets done what they need to!", is the same no matter what! I've met literally dozens of people who have struggled with the idea that everyone but them can get up on time/get organized/keep their house clean/pass their classes/etc. It's not true, no matter what they're struggling with. And you might want to throw something at me for saying so, but my opinion is that you're too hard on yourself. You may have unrealistic expectations of yourself or distorted ideas about how your performance stacks up with others. The first thing we ADDers love to do is blame ourselves, then we next try to fix ourselves, and then we finally exhaust ourselves. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is accept that we cannot be, do, or have it all. We cannot please everybody or even a majority, and we may let others down. It's important not to confuse the necessary limitations we have to put on things to retain our sanity with mediocrity. Mediocre people don't give a damn; we do.

I didn't start college until the age of 32, meaning what I lost in youthful energy I gained in useful life experiences. I worked FT from the age of 16, and in stressful jobs. I passed my organizing certification easily enough, and wrote a blog on the topic that did pretty well. However, nothing - and I mean NOTHING - prepared me for the time management skills, organizing knowledge, Herculean sense of self-discipline, and commitment required for college. Never had I hit the limits of my time, energy, and mental clarity more. It takes every ounce of focus, determination, strength, and ambition I have. I work out for an hour a day, don't smoke, don't drink alcohol, eat clean, and am well-treated for my ADD (thank heavens). Four semesters in, some things are easier than in semester one, but generally it is tougher with each passing term. The one thing I can definitely say to at my age is that once you get through college alive - and you will!- almost everything you ever do again in this world will seem easier by comparison. In other words, college may seem like it indicates how well you'll perform out in world...but it doesn't. Some people who do great in college fail miserably in the workplace. And truly, some of the greatest, smartest, most talented and successful people I know or work with could not deal with college.

ADD or not, you would not be able to study or focus wy beyond the normal limits of human capabilities very often. A small, as in minuscule, amount of society could naturally do what most of us tend to believe "normal" people achieve daily. Remember that while going to college is now commonplace, the workload and stress levels in college were once considered something only a fraction of people could manage. And while we see being without ADD as something that would free us to be superstars, most NT people aren't superstars, either. Most of them are average, as are many of us. Nothing wrong with being average, but just don't fool yourself into believing that spectacular students are the norm in college, as they really tend not to be.

The idea that getting a college education should be fairly simple and straightforward for nearly everyone is not a longstanding belief. My mom is a baby boomer, and even a lot of people in her generation avoided college if they could make a living wage and have success enough without going through that undertaking. Don't minimize just how tough college is for virtually everyone who attempts it, ADD or not. If people could all manage as well as we thought they do, there would no addictions, no one drinking pot after pot of coffee to stay up all night long, no need for anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. Most people who struggle don't say they struggle. No one would ever drop out of college, or fail a course, or switch to an audit midterm if it was easy to get a degree.

The truth is that most people who have to work even part-time experience some level their college success go down the drain. One of my close friends is an adjunct professor, working at my college and one other college an hour away from me. No matter which school you discuss with her, the story is the same. If a student has to work anything more than twenty hours a week, their job will show up somewhere, sometime in their academic performance. Add in Attention Deficit Disorder to that (especially without any medication or accommodations), it's like throwing a match on a student doused with kerosene. Seriously, my friend would shake her head at how you're judging yourself. She and I both know plenty of people with NO job (let alone two), no ADD, parents paying for their ride in full (must be nice...), and who have no responsibility beyond rolling out of bed once a day in their dorm room, and yet they barely go to class! It's one of our chief discussions, just how badly working students have it- and how annoying students handed college on a silver platter are when they act like the education is something they're entitled to.

They are lazy and incompetent and a disgrace to college students, not someone like you. Your professors, do they know that you have to work, have an internship, and have ADD? If they know and still yell at you, they're jerks and need a talking to by college admin. If they don't know, get over any sense of fear, pride, etc., and tell them. You deserve better, really. Communication with them is essential, and they also deserve to know that you do care about college and their class. The reason most of them get dagger eyes is that aforementioned lazy student body that tends to make their lives a nightmare semester after semester to deal with.

Good luck to you with everything! :)