View Full Version : 12 or 15 hours for son?


Tisha
05-06-15, 11:18 AM
My son will be enrolling at a regional campus of a large state university. He will be living at home volunarily. His plans are to transfer to the main campus after one year. He has ADHD-I. H.S. doesn't come easy to him, he has to really work on his grades and will be graduating with a 3.1 GPA.

Since that first semester can be a shock, and with his slower reading skills and ADHD, I was thinking it might not be a bad idea to just take 12 vs. 15 hours....especially with Finite Math (and math is a weak subject for him).

What are your thoughts?

icarusinflames
05-06-15, 04:28 PM
Hi Tisha!

When you say hours, do you mean the number of units he is enrolling in? I never thought of my classes in hours. But if you mean, to enroll in less, I would say yes to take it easy at first so he doesn't get discouraged.

I would limit my schedule to the bare minimum of classes they make you take to be a student. It may or may not be acceptable to be full time or part-time. Many times the requirement to be full time is to qualify for some grant from the government or a private scholarship I suppose. I would plan to take an extra 1 to 1.5 years at least at University. That way you can juggle classes and drop stuff when needed.

I'm sorry for being so lengthy in my reply, but something to keep in mind is that he should probably enroll in the full number of courses, and then after he attends the classes for about a week or 2 (depending on the rules of the school to drop), then he can recognize which class is not going so well and drop the one class, while keeping the required units to maintain enrollment status. I regret that this may sound confusing, but I think it's important to reduce stress.

Say they require you to take 3 courses to maintain the enrollment status, but a normal schedule would be 4 classes. I would enroll in that 4th course, with the attitude that he is going to drop one of them as soon as he gets a sense which course would be likely to result in a poor grade.

There are other things to limit in college to improve performance. In retrospect, I would never work a part-time job in college as it was always at a high cost towards my energy and focus for school. Having a social life in college was impossible and I hardly did anything.


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My long rambling story about University. Please feel free to ignore this as it's just me being way ADHD right now :D
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When I went to University, I became an extreme expert in knowing exactly how to drop a class so that I could repeat it and get an A. I am sure many ADHD college students develop this strategy. WHat I would do is try to get a sense in the first 4 weeks if I thought I would do well and earn at least a B. My goal was always for an A, so then I became pretty intuitive in knowing when to drop.

Sometimes I could not drop a class soon enough so I would receive an incomplete mark on my record. I educated myself on the process of how to repeat a class to remove the incomplete mark from my record. Then my record looked so impressive (this was at community college) that I could apply for the big prestigious University. It all worked. And then, despite the fact the new school was horribly hard, I had a lot of strategies in place to know how to manage my classes, and dropping courses was ALWAYS a part of my strategy #1.

I tried to learn by reputation which teachers were easy. This didn't always pay off as I learned that a professor who was easy for another student was not easy for me. In fact, that man was super stressful towards me because he had arbitrary rules like if you were 1 minute late to class, he locked the door. lol

There is a book in the school library at my University where all the reviews and educational background of every professor is listed. I used to look at that and try to figure out who to take a course with, based on reviews. As you can see, I tried everything! I found that book rather confusing and it didn't help much at all, but it's a resource and I was very resourceful to get through all that.

The counselors at school are supposed to be helpful so that students can ask these kinds of questions too. Once I needed to take a statistics class, and I was stressing out about it because I thought I would never be able to do math in language like that. So I just asked the guidance counselor who I could take this class with and hope to pass. He recommended a professor who I will always remember with great fondness because he graded the final exam on a very creative curve thing, which helped in some weird statistical way to boost everyones grade. He was a nice man and that was a tip from the counselor!

I never thought to ask for any extensions on assignments because it stressed me out too much to expose myself like that, and have a negotiation type of conversation.

To make sure I would be able to consume the reading, I marked the heck out of my books and I also wrote down the main points of the book. But I never fooled myself that the tests would be even on the books. I made sure to develop a constant note-taking strategy in school, where I would try as much as possible to listen... and the main thing is to write down everything the teacher writes on the board, and to remember to parrot back some of their phrases and things. I learned that teachers like it when you do that, as it obviously strokes some kind of ego thing. That helped me with test-taking a LOT, I think.

I used memory aids if I was desperate to remember some pedantic thing the teacher wanted us to remember. I could turn it into a song, and remember a list of things they wanted you to remember.

I think I was pretty resourceful and got a bit jaded too, which ended up helping me get through the system, although I always felt it made me miss out on the pure enjoyment of the subject and learning. I felt I was gaming the system all the time a bit through strategies, which weirdly worked for me because I felt like I was getting away with something. (I really wasn't getting away with anything, other than enjoying a perilous feeling challenge! ADHD needs challenge that they can understand).

namazu
05-06-15, 08:23 PM
Has your son spoken with the office or person responsible for disability services at his campus? If not, that would be a useful first step.

Even if he doesn't anticipate needing any formal accommodations, it can be helpful to have the paperwork in order just in case. And they may have advisors who could give him "ADHD-aware" advice on his course schedule, time management, and other tips.

I took a reduced course load most of the way through college to accommodate general time management issues and slow reading/writing as well. I also took a semester off in the middle because I needed a break after a particularly miserable semester. Both were very worthwhile, and contributed to my graduating college.

I often enrolled for a full load initially, and either right away after getting the syllabi on the first day of class, or as soon as I had a sense of the instructors' styles and the workload and how I was handling things, I would drop a class (or two). A key thing here is to pay close attention to the drop dates, and make sure the classes actually get dropped (officially, not just mentally!)

Depending on the number of units -- I think 12 is often the minimum to be considered "full-time" -- taking a reduced course load could affect your son's eligibility for financial aid. (That's something the disability office might be able to help you work out, if it's a concern.)

In addition, if he takes fewer units per term beyond the first semester, it may mean that he'll have to either take summer courses or stay in college for an extra semester or two. Which beats becoming overwhelmed and anxious and dropping out, for sure -- but just something to keep in mind.

If your son has a reading disability in addition to the ADHD, or has clear documentation of the effect of ADHD on his reading speed, he may be eligible for access to audiobooks to help him keep up with course-related reading as well.

Good luck to your son!

Tisha
05-07-15, 07:52 AM
Thank you both for your well thought out responses! You have to take 4 classes (12 hours) to be considered FT. I really like the idea of signing up for 5 classes, then deciding, if he wants...to drop the one that is giving him the most headaches. I don't mind him spending another semester or two in school if it helps the stress and keeps him GPA up. He didn't receive any accomodations in H.S., but it might not be a bad idea to look into the disability office. I have to say...he doesn't like to even talk about his ADHD even after 6 years, so I highly doubt he will want to do that.

I like the study suggestions and will pass those on. I wish he would be open with the guidance counselor about his ADHD, so he/she could recommend professors. I will mention it to him, but I really doubt that he will.

thanks again, and I believe we will do that...and keep track of the dates!

icarusinflames
05-07-15, 11:03 AM
Thank you both for your well thought out responses! You have to take 4 classes (12 hours) to be considered FT. I really like the idea of signing up for 5 classes, then deciding, if he wants...to drop the one that is giving him the most headaches. I don't mind him spending another semester or two in school if it helps the stress and keeps him GPA up. He didn't receive any accomodations in H.S., but it might not be a bad idea to look into the disability office. I have to say...he doesn't like to even talk about his ADHD even after 6 years, so I highly doubt he will want to do that.

I like the study suggestions and will pass those on. I wish he would be open with the guidance counselor about his ADHD, so he/she could recommend professors. I will mention it to him, but I really doubt that he will.

thanks again, and I believe we will do that...and keep track of the dates!

I have another comment to make about planning the combination of courses to take in one particular semester. I remember trying to be strategic and plan the courses so that I only had one math class, one English class, and then things that would not seem to add in too much more reading, for example. So I would choose an art class.

You would think that the art class would have been low stress and I was able to put my extra energy into the academic subjects, but actually art classes are much harder than I thought! The teachers really load you up with exercises and projects, because they assume you actually want to improve your art skills.

I think that getting the disability recognized by some professors, but not others would be advantageous. I assume you don't wear a label or sign that would even inform all teachers, obviously, of your ADHD. So then you could choose which teachers you wish to tell this, to reduce the course load in THAT class.

I would have told the art teachers I had ADHD and asked them to either reduce the number of assignments, or give me extra time on the important ones that can affect your grade.

It used to kill me that I would get a C or B in Art class, which pulled down my GPA, and I was only taking the art classes for the variety in my assignments and to lighten up my load.

So if he gets the disability thing cleared up officially with the school (however he does that), he can choose to make the support type classes less horrific, and less of a danger to stress him out, mess him up in other classes, or just pull down the GPA with a silly low grade in art or music or gym or whatever.

Oh dear, bad memory there: Gym class that ended up pulling down my GPA because the final exam meant lining up to wait to use gym equipment. And I couldn't handle standing around waiting, in the midst of a bunch of overly developed young males. I ended up getting screamed at by the teacher of that gym class, and he lowered my grade from A to B simply because I was sitting off to the side.

Stupid things like that shouldn't pull down a young person's GPA, simply because of those little stresses or problems.

Tisha
05-07-15, 02:00 PM
I do have another son in college, and some of his what he thought would be "easier" classes, actually were not. Who would have thought Calculus was easier than Intro to Music? Same thing as you! Tons of stuff to do. I have told him EVERY class is hard in college. Heck, I remember taking Bowling for my PE credit and got a "C"!

Personally, since he wants to transfer to the flagship campus I think he is better off just taking 4 classes and doing well. I looked and found out he only has 6 days (end of Monday of the 2nd week of classes) to drop it without that being reflected on the transcript. After that it's a W. I wish it were 2 weeks..that would be a better indication if a class is just causing problems.

icarusinflames
05-07-15, 06:01 PM
I do have another son in college, and some of his what he thought would be "easier" classes, actually were not. Who would have thought Calculus was easier than Intro to Music? Same thing as you! Tons of stuff to do. I have told him EVERY class is hard in college. Heck, I remember taking Bowling for my PE credit and got a "C"!

Personally, since he wants to transfer to the flagship campus I think he is better off just taking 4 classes and doing well. I looked and found out he only has 6 days (end of Monday of the 2nd week of classes) to drop it without that being reflected on the transcript. After that it's a W. I wish it were 2 weeks..that would be a better indication if a class is just causing problems.

That is exactly why I would take a W on a course that i actually needed for my degree, but if I hated the teacher or the class, I would drop at some point with a W, knowing how to repeat it to get the W expunged from my record. It was an amazing and effective strategy that got me into a great University. My record looked so good and clean when I applied to transfer!

The power of the W! :cool:

Tisha
05-08-15, 08:09 AM
How do you get your W expunged? At my son's Univ...the W remains, even if you take the class and get an A the second time around.

tinybike
06-07-15, 07:12 PM
I took 15 hours per semester my first three semesters. I failed a course AND carried a W for each of those three semesters; my term GPAs were 2.47, 2.75, and 2.18. My fourth semester, I received accommodations and only took 4 courses (12 CrH). I had a 3.9 GPA for that semester. I had a 3.7 coming out of HS, then undiagnosed. I am 22, going into my third calendar year of uni, and I am ADHD-C. My experience won't be the same as your son's but it may offer a frame of reference.

At my university, every course you take remains on your transcript once you pass that W date. Since one of my Ws was for a full-year course (dropped after the date in the fall) and I dropped another, different class in the winter, I have TWO Ws and an F for that winter semester. It's not pretty. I also have a W, an F and a B in the same one class (who knew calculus would be easier to learn when you aren't juggling 5 classes' homework and you can actually attend lectures?). I came out of my first year with 18 credit hours when I should have had - and paid for - 30. Thank goodness I was diagnosed last fall because at least I can write a nice letter of explanation when I apply to graduate school.

I know plenty of neurotypical folks who take 4 courses per semester and get to enjoy their college experience, relax etc. When I am in school, I don't really socialize, I don't work, and I keep a strict gym schedule. Four courses is my maximum capacity if I want to do well. I think I am about as married to my studies as a NT person taking five courses.

acdc01
06-08-15, 01:19 PM
Another option besides extending the number of school years is summer school. One or two classes made up over the summer is a breeze compared to the regular school year though maybe he'd prefer to stay longer in school and have summers completely off.

There are teacher rating websites for some schools I think. Easy teachers made life easier for me too.

Friends who let you copy their notes, form study groups, and shared homework answers were how I got through college. Making friends is tough though important for us in school.

tinybike
06-08-15, 04:00 PM
Summer school saved my bacon. Depending on the program, location, and university requirements.. a lot of credits can be taken in field school formats! Might be better for more hyperactive types like me but it's so nice to be out of a classroom and have to think on your feet and be proactive. The material engages you so you don't have to figure out how to engage the material.