Research finds college students with ADHD are likely to experience significant challenges — ScienceDaily

According to a UCLA study, ADHD students make up about 6% college student population. They are the most common type disability supported by college disability officers. However, are these students receiving adequate academic support from their institutions. Despite ADHD being a prevalent condition in college students, very little research has been done on how ADHD impacts college success and the transition to college. Until now.

George DuPaul, a professor of school psychology at Lehigh University and associate dean of research in the College of Education, has revealed that students with ADHD face significant challenges in completing college. He also predicts how academic success can be improved.

DuPaul and his colleagues from the University of North Carolina, University of Rhode Island and University of Nebraska-Lincoln published the paper, “Academic Trackories of College Students without ADHD: Predictors of 4-Year Outcomes.” Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

This study is the largest and most extensive ever done on college students with ADHD. It is the first time that a systematic examination of ADHD students’ functioning has been done over four years.

DuPaul said that ADHD students in college are more likely than average to have academic difficulties and are at greater risk for dropping out.

Researchers assessed more than 400 college students with ADHD through annual psychological and educational evaluations. Half of the students were identified as having ADHD. The four-year study was conducted with student participants from colleges across North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

Researchers found that college students with ADHD averaged half a grade lower than their peers, and that this deficit was present over all four years. The results also showed that college students diagnosed with ADHD were less likely to continue their studies in subsequent semesters.

DuPaul explained that it was surprising to see the extent of ADHD students’ academic deficiencies. These were students who had the skills and knowledge to graduate high school and then matriculate at a four-year college. “We expected less declines in their college education performance.”

Although medication did not significantly improve academic outcomes, researchers found several factors that predicted academic success for students diagnosed with ADHD. These included having less depression symptoms, better executive functioning skills such as planning and time management, and having been provided educational accommodations in high schools and college.

DuPaul hopes that the findings will be of value to college disability offices, mental health professionals, college-aged students, and higher education faculty and administrators as well as individuals with ADHD, and their families.

DuPaul said that his findings highlighted the importance of providing academic assistance for students with ADHD prior college matriculation. He also stressed the necessity to improve executive functioning skills in these students.


Materials provided by Lehigh University. Note: Content can be edited for style or length.

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