Students who take medications for ADHD or for medical or emotional issues need to consider the logistics involved in both taking and refilling their medications. How will they best remember to take their medications regularly when caught up in their busy academic and social schedule? Some helpful tools include a pill tray for those who take multiple medications (which can be set up once a week), a watch or phone with a reminder alarm that is set to go off at the time(s) medications need to be taken, and a designated location in the student's dorm room where medication is both accessible to the student and safe from roommates or visitors.
What about refills? Controlled substances -- which include most medications for attention and emotional issues -- require a new prescription for each month's supply. Families should check with the prescribing physican and speak to the campus health center for recommendations for local pharmacies. Another option is re-stocking during visits home.There is no single best arrangement, but it can take time to procure a refill and the day the student runs out of his or her medication is too late to create an effective plan.
Students with learning difficulties or ADHD who need academic accomodations, such as extended time on exams, should have already been in touch with the campus Office of Disability Services to provide required documentation of their disability and to obtain appropriate accommodations. If your student has not yet done so, make this your first priority, since it takes some time for this process to be completed. You do not want your student to face their first exam without the accommodations needed for success.
There are a number of tools that can benefit all students that are particularly helpful to college freshmen with learning or attention issues. These include:
- A large white board to keep track of upcoming tasks and to break down extended assignments into workable segments
- A device for recording lectures. This can be a Smartpen, which can allow the student to link their notes to the recording so they do not have to listen to the entire lecture to get the parts they missed, or a smartphone or other device with a recording feature.
- A file box, set up with a separate folder for each course. Once a week, papers from each course should be filed and retained for studying for the final exam.
- For those students who qualify, authorization for access to audio books through organizations like Bookshare or Learning Ally. Most textbook publishers are required to make their materials accessible to students in multiple formats.
- An electronic or paper organizer. Electronic versions can provide reminders that help keep students on track.
A little bit of planning can make a big difference for a new college student. Take some time now to smooth your student's start to college.