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College Students With ADHD at Greater Risk of Dropping Out: Study

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Students with ADHD receive lower grades and are at greater risk of dropping out of college than their non-ADHD peers, a study has found.

The four-year study was based on yearly educational and psychological evaluations of 400 students in three different states, half of whom had ADHD. The researchers looked at students’ GPAs, self-reporting about study skills, progress toward graduation, and drop-out status.

They found that students with ADHD on average earned grades half a grade level lower than other students, a finding which remained consistent throughout their college careers. Those with the disorder were also found to be more likely to drop their enrollment across semesters.

Improving Academic Success

As all study subjects were students who had shown the academic skills necessary to graduate high school and matriculate into college, the degree of academic difficulty experienced by college students with ADHD was a surprising result to the researchers. Their expectation was that there would be smaller declines as these students entered higher education.

Nevertheless, the researchers were able to draw some positive conclusions from their research, outlining ways that students with ADHD can be more successful academically.

While medication was not shown to have a significant impact on academic performance, researchers found that several factors had a positive impact on students’ academic success, such as receiving academic support services at university, access to “educational accommodations” in high school, and having improved “executive functioning” skills such as time management and planning.

Source for Guidance

LeHigh University College of Education associate dean for research George DuPaul, who led the research, expects the findings to be a valuable source of guidance for higher education academic support professionals such as college counselors, disability specialists, those in health care, faculty, administration, as well as those with ADHD. 

DuPaul emphasized the importance of academic support, improving executive functioning skills, as well as screening for and treating symptoms of depression in this population, offering a greater possibility of academic success for ADHD sufferers.

A 2017 study at UCLA determined that students with ADHD comprise roughly 6 percent of college students, making the disorder the most commonly reported disability among the higher education population.

Despite this prevalence, questions have arisen as to whether or not students are receiving adequate assistance from the schools they attend and how it may impact their prospects for academic success.

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