Ask an Expert

Are there any colleges with good services for kids with ADHD?

You can find programs for everything from a gap year to a more supportive traditional college experience 

Ruth Lee, MEd, ET/P

Senior Educational and Learning Specialist and former Director of Clinical Outreach
Child Mind Institute

Q:  My daughter has ADHD and is a B minus student. She struggles in school and has poor executive functioning skills. She will be looking for colleges next year. Are there any that have particularly good services for kids with ADHD?

A:  There are several colleges with especially well-developed programs for kids with ADHD. The oldest is Curry College in Massachusetts. Students accepted to Curry can apply to the Program for Advancement of Learning, which offers assistance to students who have ADHD, executive function issues, and other learning differences. Students in the PAL program take classes at Curry while also receiving individualized academic support from PAL faculty members who work with them on study skills like organization and time management. Some of these classes will be for credit so that students are motivated to keep participating.

Another well-known program is the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center at the University of Arizona. Students need to apply to both the university and SALT, and pay for them both. Students are assigned a strategic learning specialist who creates a learning plan specifically designed for them. SALT also provides tutoring and facilitates any necessary psychological services.

Landmark College in Vermont is a two-year college exclusively for kids with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. Students receive associate's degrees in general studies, liberal arts, or business administration, and most move on to a four-year degree program elsewhere. Landmark offers small class sizes, structured study environments, and access to assistive technology. And since the entire student body has learning differences, you can depend on the faculty and community being supportive and sensitive to your daughter's needs.

Another interesting program is the Thames Academy at Mitchell College in Connecticut. Mitchell actually offers a gap year program, or what they call a "pre-college transitional experience." Students in the Thames Academy are living on campus with the other students and taking regular college courses while also taking some specialized workshops they'll find helpful—study skills, writing skills, organizational skills, even money management. It's a nice introduction to college life and at the end of the program students can have earned up to 16 transferable college credits. Then they can continue on through Mitchell or go somewhere else.

That's just to name a few; there are many more. Hofstra University in New York, American University in Washington DC, the University of Denver, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, the University of Connecticut, and Lynn University in Florida all have excellent programs. One great resource that I recommend to families exploring all their options is the book Peterson's Colleges With Programs for Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders. It covers everything from the specific programs that help kids with learning differences to financial aid. Research on the Internet will be helpful here, too.

Published: January 22, 2013

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