Anyone else chronically struggle with college/school?

Hi there,

I have had this account a few years but haven’t been particularly active with it. I usually have a pretty good support network irl (close friends with ADHD, wonderful ADHD specific therapist, partner, etc) but I have been struggling to find others who struggle with school the same way I do. I am currently in my 6th year of college (still in undergrad), and even with my diagnoses in early 2019, medication, accommodations, and my support system and therapy, I have not been able to be successful with school.

I can think of one successful term (my very first back in 2015) where I got all passing grades, but since then I have routinely flunked out of individual classes or the entire term, or withdrawn from the term or at least one class. I have tried going heavier and lighter on my course loads each term, switched schools, and tried probably every study method and system of organization possible. I have also flunked out and had to take terms off. This hasn’t been an experience isolated to college, which is mainly the story I hear for other late diagnosed individuals. I could ace any test or exam in elementary, middle, and high school, but not much else ever got done. It all makes me feel really terrible because I feel completely alone and I’m trying so hard and just not getting noticeably better. I’ve watched everyone I was friends with as a freshman graduate, and I haven’t been able to find many people still in school that I can relate to because they’re all much younger than me. The accommodations that the schools I’ve been to have offered have been at best neutrally helpful and at worst the opposite of helpful. I’m mostly just wondering if there is anyone else out there with a similar experience. I’m smart and I’m more than capable at my job, but school is a huge weak point. I am not looking for advice necessarily, it would just be really nice to know that I’m not the only one who is going through this or who has gone through this.

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Hey,

Just wanted to say: you are not alone. I’m there too. We face obstacles, we get scared, we get frustrated because of not being able to accomplish things… but, who says you need to finish our degree in certain amount of time? or even to have a degree? Although it may be difficult for us to study, it’s not impossible. In my case, I try to remember that studies are not the most important thing in life… I have found joy and fulfillment on Christ’s good news :). Enjoy being with your community, your family and try to take advantages of your other abilities to help you at school.

I hope you can find partners that can understand you and help you to go through all :slight_smile:

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Welcome @troxa @Valeria_Gonzalez_Cam .

I graduated from leading U.K. university in 1999 aged 20, in 3 years. I have a postgraduate qualification the next year . I could have repeated the 2nd year of undergraduate studies.

I had undiagnosed dyspraxia, ADHD and autistic traits.

I have low self esteem, low self worth , anxiety.

I received a diagnosis of dyspraxia aged 33.

I received a diagnosis of ADHD aged 41, August 2020.

I am not surprised people with ADHD generally struggle in college. The demands of college can be huge for ND people. People with ADHD can take extra time to graduate, graduate at a smaller rate , possibly performing worse .

I would say the workplace is much worse for people with ADHD. / ND people. There is less room for manoeuvre about performance in the workplace, even for people with postgraduate degrees.

It depends on your strengths . If you have a degree , there are more options but not a guarantee of success .

Not having a degree, may make someone almost impossible to work .

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Hello @troxa !
Hello @Valeria_Gonzalez_Cam !
And hello, again, @ALADDIN !

TLDR: Yes, I can relate.

  • I’ve had similar struggles in college. I didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until 2020, which was five years after the last college class I had attempted.
  • Similar struggles have affected my career.
  • My marriage was also impacted by my ADHD, which may have contributed to my divorce.

ADHD affects every area of life. School, work, personal life and relationships.


I had no significant struggles in early school, though my ADHD symptoms were definitely present.

  • My first grade teacher would catch me staring out the window, and she labeled me a daydreamer. I would finish my work on one lesson quickly, and get distracted waiting for the class to catch up, then miss the beginning of the next lesson.
  • Later, in 3rd-5th grades, I would forget to do my homework at home, but because I had a long bus ride, I adapted to doing my homework on the bus ride home, finishing it on the ride to school if I had to.
  • In 6th grade, the same trick didn’t work…I only had a 5 minute bus ride. So, I got detention a few times for late, missing and incomplete work. (That’s probably when I needed to be assessed for ADHD, back then only known as ADD, but no referral was made.) I don’t remember what I did that year to deal with my homework. Probably doing as much as I could in class.
  • In 7th-12th grades, I did my homework during available time in class, and between classes. I only remember working on long projects, reports, and research papers at home. I dropped out of one class, 11th grade advanced English, because I couldn’t keep up with the reading (a college English Literature major amount of workload). So, I took regular 11th grade English in summer school. Somehow, I graduated with a 3.50 GPA while taking mostly advanced classes, while doing almost no homework at home. Lots of teachers made one or two comments about my distractibility, and noted I was often turning in assignments late. Still, I wasn’t referred for an ADD assessment, because I was passing.

Then, I got to college, and the reality of my struggles with ADHD hit me from all sides.

  • I attended 5 different colleges and universities.
  • I would drop out and re-enroll a few times, totaling about 9 years of undergraduate school over a 22 year span. (First attended college in Fall 1993. Last attended taking a single class while working full time Spring 2015. Still at least a full academic year’s worth of classes needed to graduate.)
  • I changed majors 5 times, due to chronic indecisiveness. (I am interested in many things, so it’s hard to decide what to study, and then I would eventually change my mind.)
  • I got several D’s and a few F’s, repeated a few classes, repeated one required class for my major 3 times (passing it on the 4th try), and was put on academic probation once. I think my records now show me with around a 2.6 GPA.

When I got my ADHD diagnosis, my struggles in college (and the particular struggles I had in K-12 school) finally made sense.

After my longest hiatus from school, thanks to understanding my struggles and taking effective medication, I’m considering an online school that will let me take one class at a time and go at my own pace (Western Governors University, wgu.edu).

Unfortunately, now the holdup is that due to my recent divorce, I’m going to have to move to the opposite side of the country and change employers. I’m going to try to get an online, work-from-home job. I have 50% custody of my youngest two kids, ages 7 and 9, who are homeschooling.

  • (My older two kids are grown, and it will be hard moving away from them, my grandkids [also ages 7 and 9], my parents, and all the friends I’ve made the last 10 years.)

ADHD has also impacted my career, limiting opportunities for advancement. I do well at things that work with my short attention span, like customer service jobs. Thanks to my interest and studies in computers, I stumbled from my previous career in Retail Sales (which doesn’t pay very well) into Information Technology/ Computer Support (which pays barely adequately). I tried a management position once, and a higher-level IT position once, but had the same kind of difficulty with both…I am not very good at long-term assignments, such as project management. I start strong, lose moment, lose track of the details, cram at the end, often finish at the last minute or late, and sometimes don’t fulfill the objective.


As I learn more about ADHD, how it impacts me, and what I can do about it, I get a little more successful with my work over time.

The last year was very difficult, on a personal level, as I went through relationship struggles with my wife and she ended up divorcing me. (My ADHD traits may have had something to do with the relationship struggles over the course of our marriage, but mainly in think it was my wife’s own unresolved issues which led to her being vulnerable to the attentions of, and falling in love with, someone else.)

  • She moved to another state to pursue a relationship with that other person. I’m moving to follow in a couple of months, because I would rather be a short drive apart to have custody of my kids every other week, than fly them back and forth every few months.

perhaps this is your experience but it does not seem to be troxa’s experience.

troxa has a job.

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The workplace has the potential to be worse for someone with ADHD,

See,

http://www.millsconsulting.com/MFT/fullstop.html

Most people undertake some form of education, school may be tough , there may be alternatives.

The degree only opens more doors, the rest requires other things .

@ALADDIN , I think it depends on the person and the circumstances.

  1. College was always more difficult for me than the working world.

  2. I have been employed almost all of my adult life, since I was 19. (The only times I have not been, I was either in school, or I was actively looking for work.)

  • I have only ever been let go from a job twice. Once, as a teenager working at a summer camp during a recession, because of budget cuts. The other time was last year, when I was on an annual contract at my last employer, and management opted not to renew my contract.
  • Last I heard, from former co-workers, they did not rehire for my old position. No reason was given, but I know I wasn’t living up to expectations. I was informed that I was being let go the same week I found out that the training I’d been trying to get for the previous 6 months was finally available. The training would have made me much more capable at that job.

I know that not every job I’ve done has been a good fit for me. Since my ADHD diagnosis, I understand why that is. I am best suited to jobs that make good use of my ADHD traits.

  • Acting in the present (not planning for the future)
  • Spurred into action by novelty or urgency (natural release of epinephrine/norepinephrine for)

Novelty probably causes a release of dopamine, which helps with attention.

  • (This is an educated guess on my part, but I surmise that this is how ADHD interest-based attention works.)

Urgency probably taps into the “fight or flight” response, which triggers the release of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) or epinephrine (adrenaline).

  • My ADHD medication is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Since this medication works for me, it makes perfect sense why urgent situations make me focused like my meds do.
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@j_d_aengus I agree with you everyone is an individual affected by their individual circumstances. Maybe luck , has an effect !

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Hi,

I am in my second year. I have managed to pass my first year somehow and get accommodations in the second semester. But it was hell from the start - I had problems even watching all the lectures. I have somehow managed to glue myself to a desk and stick to a routine, but it was so stressful that I have lost my sleep, yet I had mostly Mostly Bs, some As, and an occasional C so far. But I cannot do it anymore now, I am avoiding my studies and my life, but is it really down to me? I didn’t know I could have flashbacks just from seeing my desk after a long time

True that I am not even completely fluent in English, but I don’t think it would be much better if I would study in Czech.

Here is a short course for ADHD students if that helps:

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There are many kinds of work that you can do even if you are totally disoriented, some of them even quite good in some aspects. And many people may be unable to study as it is not enough stimulating but are good at something else. My father, for example, is a three surgeon. He has never been diagnosed and has a high school degree in forestry, but has learned all he had to on his own and is perfectly happy climbing trees all day.

True that many of those morally degraded people who in the eyes of others can’t be even bothered to pay their bills and get a normal job are probably just undiagnosed and people look at them with scorn instead of trying to understand and help them.

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I have poor coordination (all the way ), manual work is out for me . I slow. I have poor perceptual organisation.

There is a job for everyone.

I believe that there are “many kinds of intelligence”. Each person has their skills and capabilities.

I’m not the most coordinated person, nor the smartest, nor the most creative. I’m not the most emotionally intelligent, either. I have each of these capabilities to some good degree.

I’m the quintessential “Jack of all Trades, Master of None”. I can do many things, but in each and every undertaking, others outshine me.

All the same, in every undertaking, I’ve been able to help, to support, to encourage, to enrich others. I’ve given people a “hand up”, and watched with wonder or admiration as they surpass me.

Mine seems to be the role of the helper. Looking back, I have seen that I did so…

  • from five years old (enthusiastically turning the crank on my baby brother’s mechanical swing);
  • to seven (helping my older brother’s Cub Scout Pack pick up litter;
  • to my teens (leading and training Boy Scouts;
  • to participating in numerous service projects;
  • to assisting with setup & teardown of risers for band concerts);
  • to my career (working in various customer service & support roles, hiring and training colleagues, a mentor to several, even being a job reference for some).

My lot in life seems not to be the superstar, not to shine the brightest or to stand out. I’m one of many. I help give shape to the constellation of stars around me, so that we all shine together.


Do I want the limelight? Sometimes yes, but sometimes I’m content to fade into the background and let others have their moment in the sun.

Do I like to be recognized for my contribution? Yes, I certainly do, but I’m also quick to give others their due credit.


Back to the beginning… some have academic achievements that I haven’t reached. Some have talents that I do not have. Some have valuable skills that I lack, or that I’m not as strong in.

Each of you may surpass me in one or in many ways.


One thing that I do know, from having witnessed or have learned about other people… people can do amazing things when they are dedicated.

Whenever I begin to doubt that, I remember about a person who was blind and deaf from her youth who learned to read and to speak, who earned a college degree, who became a much sought after presenter. If Helen Keller can overcome such severe handicaps…then with patience, persistence, belief and commitment, I believe any one of us can achieve our educational and career aspirations.

It may take us a lot longer, it may take a lot more work, and we might need a lot more help from other people than our neurotypical peers… But we can do it!

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