Joel P. Sussman, M.D. FAAP
Clinical Director; Palmetto Associates for Scholastic Success (P.A.S.S.)
245 Business Park Boulevard                  Columbia, SC 29203           Phone:  (803) 462-1234


Help for College Students

  College students with ADHD present their own unique set of problems. The traditional definition of ADHD specifies that patients should have shown signs of the disorder before the age of 7. Dr. Sussman believes that this is a very limited view of the problem. What of the bright children who were NOT behavior problems when they were younger? Oftentimes, they were not brought to the attention of teachers or parents. Some of them actually had very good grades. Others had average grades. It was only the behavior problems and the near failing students who got attention. When some of these students get to college (or graduate school, law school or medical school) their problems overcome their native intelligence. They start to feel overwhelmed and their grades do not approach what they had been earlier. They were able to achieve good grades in high school without putting forth much effort and therefore they never developed study skills. They also did not have to take notes in high school in order to do well. The lack of study skills and note taking skills bring out their ADHD problems and their grades plummet from their high school level.

  There are other challenges these students face. Without their parents setting limits, their life style becomes the major issue that causes problems.  No curfews bring on very late hours. Signing up for late classes allows the students to sleep in until very late in the morning. This gives them the feeling they can go to bed in the early morning hours as they “can always sleep late.”  High school athletes who don’t exercise once they get to college can get very depressed. Skipping breakfast tends to be the norm.  Substance abuse, including but not limited to alcohol, runs rampant on college campuses, non stop texting and excessive playing video games can cause college failure. Lifestyle issues become the stumbling block for the college student who had previously done well in high school.


Lastly, being away from home for the first time takes away the major support system that they have had in their lives---namely their parents. Their parents often help them set priorities in setting schedules, making sure that homework and studying was done and a healthy diet was maintained. Without help from their parents, they feel overwhelmed and this translates into feelings of depression and/or anxiety. Without their high school friends, making new friends can be a daunting task. Worrying about not getting into a fraternity or sorority is very distressing for many first year college students. All this makes the first year in college a difficult challenge for any college student. For those with ADHD, either diagnosed or not diagnosed as yet, it is even more so.


Dr. Sussman looks at all of these potential problems when working with college students. Sometimes they need medication. All of the time, they need to be counseled in life style issues. When everything is taken into consideration, they generally turn their college careers and around and do very well. We usually can follow them on a June and December follow-up schedule so they don’t have to miss any classes to check in with Dr. Sussman. If they need to be followed more often, they can have a phone appointment. We have students up and down the East Coast so location is never a problem.














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