First diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school, Andrew went to middle school at an academy that was designed especially for people with learning difficulties. His high school, however, was not.
“I really struggled in high school,” Andrew says. “I had a lot of problems in math, as well as classes that had mathematical background[s ] ... I sought out tutors and tried to get help.”
The thought of college study intimidated Andrew. “I saw students who were much better prepared than I was. I knew, based on high school, how much effort it was going to take.”
Andrew didn’t let doubt keep him from stepping up to the challenge and applying to college. Based on his experience, he offers these tips for college applicants with learning disorders:
- Gather up-to-date paperwork documenting your disorder
- Contact the office of disability services at the colleges you’re applying to
- Ask for help from the people around you — whether parents, counselors or teachers
Andrew got help from his mother. “She played a big part in helping me find financial aid and [getting me] set up with the office of disability services at my college.”
Through his research, he found a grant for people with learning disorders that covered the cost of tuition for the first two years. When it was time to pick a school, he chose a nearby community college for two reasons: cost and size. “I liked the idea of a smaller class size ... [and] a smaller campus.”
After spending two years at community college, Andrew took two years off, “to experience what life had to offer.” He says it made him a better student. “I learned what was really important and what I would have to do to achieve my goals.”
Andrew now majors in anthropology at a state university. His favorite college experience so far was an archaeological dig in Lyminge, England. He feels he made a real difference because the excavations help the people in that area better understand their origins.
He still has to deal with his learning disorder, and says there was no single moment when, “it all clicked.” Instead, over time, he began to develop strategies to deal with his ADHD, like using his computer to take notes in class. He also gets extended time on tests, papers and in-class assignments.