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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

You are not alone in managing ADHD in college

illustration+of+attention-deficit%2Fhyper-activity+disorder

Graphic Illustration by Tara Winstead | The Collegian

Samy Gentle, Staff Reporter

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects about 4.4% of adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Applied to the 28,000 students on the Colorado State University campus, that is an estimated 1,200 students who may experience the condition. 

ADHD can manifest itself in different ways. Hyperactivity and fidgeting, problems with focusing on tasks without distraction, impulsivity and maintaining emotional regulation can all result from ADHD, according to an email from Dawnelle Schatte, director of psychiatry services at the CSU Health Network. 

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“I think the most common misconception is it is a disorder of functioning in school, but that is only a tiny part of the condition,” Schatte wrote. “This is a problem 365 days a year, 24 hours per day.” 

Rebecca Klumpenhower (She/her) CSU sophomore with ADHD
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Klumpenhower

Many people don’t realize that the symptoms of ADHD aren’t something that you only sometimes struggle with,” wrote Rebecca Klumpenhower, a CSU sophomore who was diagnosed with the condition in the second grade. 

In an email, Klumpenhower said the earliest sign she had ADHD was a struggle with emotional regulation when frustrated or angry, especially when switching between tasks.  

In college, she said her ADHD impacts her ability to focus academically, especially when initiating long or tedious tasks. 

“Often I will sit at my desk with all the materials I need to do my work, but I simply cannot force my brain to type even one sentence,” Klumpenhower wrote. “It can take me hours to write one page of an essay when I know that if I were more focused, it could have been finished in 30 minutes.” 

However, ADHD can have multiple layers to its effects on students. 

“I can focus on multiple tasks at the same time,” Klumpenhower wrote. “Somehow, managing 16 credit hours, a campus job, church and plans with friends is easier for my brain to organize than one paper.”

ADHD can be a strength in helping students take chances when problem-solving and thinking outside the box in creative situations, Schatte wrote. 

Even I with ADHD have been able to focus and reach the top 15% of my high school class,” wrote Quinn Heptig, a CSU first-year, in an email. 

“The hardest part about having ADHD in college is that it can be managed in a way that people don’t know how hard you have to work for your success.” –Rebecca Klumpenhower, CSU sophomore

Students with ADHD can find solutions to manage the difficulties they experience. 

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Klumpenhower wrote staying ahead on work to account for it taking longer than expected and using planners to write out tasks have been effective strategies for managing ADHD in her experience.

Similarly, Schatte suggested students may benefit from a structured scheduled — students may find it helpful to have a color-coded calendar or a schedule on an electronic device so it may be accessed everywhere.

Additionally, managing time by accounting for the time it takes to get ready for events can also help students. In her email, Schatte described setting things out at night for the next day as a great way to lessen the cognitive burden the next morning. 

Also recommended by Schatte is making sure to get enough sleep.

One-third of people with ADHD have a diagnosable sleep condition, and many struggle to settle their minds and bodies down to fall asleep, which leads to worsening of all of the symptoms,” she wrote.  

A key point is ADHD is different for everyone.

ADHD solutions are as different as the symptoms depending on the person,” Schatte wrote. 

Quinn Heptig Colorado State University first year
Photo courtesy of Quinn Heptig

“I experimented around for a while and found that music was a great way to suppress it for long periods of time,” Heptig wrote. “Every person is different, … but that doesn’t mean someone else’s workaround may not work for you.”

“The hardest part about having ADHD in college is that it can be managed in a way that people don’t know how hard you have to work for your success,” Klumpenhower wrote.

Students struggling with ADHD may seek resources at the Student Disability Center, Student Case Management or the CSU Health Network.

Reach Samy Gentle at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samy_gentle_.

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