ADHD in College Students

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD is a childhood developmental disorder that can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. The key symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. In adolescence and young adulthood, hyperactive symptoms tend to decline, sometimes replaced with an inner sense of restlessness, while symptoms of inattention and impulsivity may continue.

College students need self-control and organizational skills to set priorities and complete long-term tasks, which are especially difficult for those with ADHD. These students often display symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in ways unique to the college setting.

Symptoms of Inattention

Has difficulty paying attention in class

Is easily distracted and forgetful

Is frequently late

Has difficulty finishing tasks

Is disorganized and misplaces items

Makes careless mistakes

Becomes bored quickly

Has poor concentration

Is sensitive to stress

Is indecisive

Symptoms of Hyperactivity

Is inefficient at doing assignments

Has an internal restlessness

Has an active job or lifestyle

Is often overwhelmed

Fidgets excessively

Is always “on the go”

Cannot sit through class

Talks excessively

Symptoms of Impulsivity

Changes classes or jobs impulsively

Often misses class

Interrupts others

Is impatient

Drives too fast or recklessly

Is easily frustrated

ADHD Diagnosis

To diagnose ADHD, trained personnel, such as primary care physicians, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, or other medical doctors, must complete a thorough evaluation.

If you think your college student has ADHD, have him or her complete this screening questionnaire.

For more information about disability accommodations at the University of Mississippi, have your college student contact the Office of Student Disability Services (662-915-7128; go to

ADHD Treatment and Medications

Properly treating ADHD can reduce symptoms and the impairments they cause. Treatment programs that use several strategies work best and can include:

  • Behavioral interventions
  • Patient and parent education on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD
  • Educational programs targeted to meet the special needs of the child
  • Training for parents
  • Medications

Medications used to treat ADHD include both stimulants and nonstimulants. Stimulants can be prescribed in long-acting and short-acting formulations.

Note that ADHD medication, when taken as prescribed, is not addictive. In fact, research shows that young people with ADHD who take their medication are less likely to have substance abuse problems than those who do not take medication.

Your student should not only take medication as prescribed, but he or she should also safeguard the medication to ensure that it does not fall into the hands of others. ADHD medication is sometimes abused by those without ADHD in an attempt to increase concentration and improve grades. Your student’s medication should be kept in a safe place and used only as directed.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guards the adult patient’s privacy. Although your college student may still be covered by your health insurance, if your child is 18 or older, the school and your child’s doctor cannot release information to you without your child’s consent; some providers (such as Student Health Services at University of Mississippi) require express written consent (662-915-7274; go to depts/stu_health/index.html).