ADHD in College

Q: “My College Freshman Is Failing. How Can He Fix Things?”

“He should take advantage of services most colleges offer through the Office of Disability Services, such as one-on-one tutoring, executive function coaching, and study skills workshops.

college, office of disability services,

Q: “My college freshman just told us that he will likely fail several courses. He admitted that he neglected to register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to get accommodations for his ADHD and learning disabilities. Is it too late to fix things?”

A: It may be too late in the semester to fix things for the courses he’s failing, but he still should arrange meetings with the professors of these courses to explain his situation. It is always possible that they will allow him to submit additional work to raise his grades.

Regardless, there are several steps your student can take to move forward.

There are no IEPs in college, and, unlike in high school, responsibility for identifying as a student with a disability in need of accommodations falls entirely on the student. His next meeting should be with the Office of Disability Services or ODS (every college has one) to discuss his difficulties and arrange for accommodations for future classes. He will need documentation of his ADHD and LD. He should remember that accommodations are not retroactive and will only apply to the classes he’ll take in future semesters.

[How to Prepare Your Teen with ADHD for College]

His college likely has an established process to deal with students who fail one or more courses — academic probation, a leave of absence, or repeating the course. This will vary from school to school and depends, in part, on how many courses he fails. Unfortunately, any tuition payments you have made will not be refunded, even if he gets no course credit. Note that scholarships often require a student to maintain a specific grade point average.

Going forward, in addition to arranging and using the accommodations to which he may be entitled, he should take advantage of other services most colleges offer, usually through the ODS. These may include group or one-on-one tutoring, executive function coaching, and study skills workshops.

Office of Disability Services: Next Steps

Susan Yellin, Esq., is the director of Advocacy and Transition Services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education in New York City.

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