Which College for ADHD?

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • My ninth grader was just diagnosed with an possible ADD and psychiatrist recommended 504 plan. She also has depression. She used to have high GPA until 2 months ago.

    I heard that selective colleges look less favorably on applicants with 504 plans. Someone told me that the fact that the student is on 504 plan (not the diagnosis itself) will be released by high schools to colleges as a part of student's file. Is this true?

    If you work in college admissions and familiar with this issue or have high schoolers on 504 plans please comment from your experience.  

    Psychiatrist also recommended small dose of Vyvanse. If your children took it was it helpful for them?

    My son is ADHD and is now in college, He took a variety of ADHD meds, Concerta being the best fit for him. Sometimes you have to find the right med -- the first one you try isn't always the best one. But he told me life was much better on the meds -- he said "I can hear the teacher better."  I recommend you try meds -- a short acting dose is out of your kid's system quickly, and you can observe the results and make a decision then.

    Short Answer:  504 plans should be confidential ......but to allay your concerns, just ask your student's counselor in High School. Good luck!

    Many students have 504 plans. There's no need to disclose that. Once your child is admitted you should research the services available to disabled students. I know many students with 504 plans who were admitted to UCs and other highly selective colleges. The grades, the test scores, the essays, and the recommendations are what matters. If your daughter's challenges have had an effect on those indicators it could be a problem, and sometimes students in that situation choose to discuss the difficulties in their essays.

  • West Coast college rec. for ADD teen?

    (6 replies)

    Looking for college/univ. recommendations for our HS junior.  Recently Dx with ADD, she doesn't want to talk about college; the whole idea is overwhelming and she's worried about failure.  Doesn't like high school, except for the social part; not sure what she wants to study, or do with her life.  But is an excellent self-advocate, very verbal, good writing skills, gets mostly good grades.  Has held PT jobs, and done very well.  We know she has great potential, and is, in many ways, a perfect candidate for college life; we just need her to see it.  Wants to live in a diverse community (not rural) on northern West Coast; Bay Area or north.  Needs resources on campus -- help with organization, schedules, counseling, executive functioning.  Public school a plus, but willing to go private if it's the perfect fit where she can thrive.  Any recommendations or suggestions welcome.  Thanks.

    There's plenty of info out there about colleges for kids with ADHD/ADD.  Check ADDitude or Understood.org.  Or the Parents Education Network website.  

    Wow. That's sounds almost exactly like me. The fear of failure was so paralyzingly that I ended up doing a JC (took the SAT and application pressure off) and transferred to UCLA.   I was always a great worker and got excellent grades b/c excelling in school was just another job, but did terribly at standardized tests. At the end of the day, the only thing that mattered is where I graduated FROM. My work ethic has taken me far. At the same time, not going to a reputable 4-year University out of high school was a big blow to my ego after having worked so hard to get good grades. In retrospect, I might have hired a strong personal tutor for the SAT instead if one of those generic courses and applied to universities of choice. Even if just to see if I could get in!  A JC is always a good back-up option and many have programs affiliated with UC's. Good luck!

    Consider CSU Channel Islands. It's a small school, they accept >70% of applicants, seem to have good resources for kids with special educational needs.

    My son sounds similar and has struggled with ADD and slow information processing,  There ed services have been very helpful.   He also hated high school and traditional academics and has loved Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington.  It is a WUE school so we did get a $3000 fee reduction each year.  Classes are small and there are only narrative evaluations.  He most often has had papers and final projects, not much standard testing.  Classes are integrated so there is only one class to manage, even though there are three subjects. 

    My son is a senior and recently told me that he wished that he'd taken a gap year or even two.  He felt like he wasn't really engaged in his studies until late sophomore/early junior year. This quarter, he is doing an independent study and internship.  Feel free to contact me if you have more questions,

    Great news! I had a fabulous experience at Community College and met quite a few high school students taking community college courses while still in high school. In high school, I was able to take a couple college courses that helped me meet high school requirements. At Berkeley Public Library we had a community college representative from Peralta colleges come to speak at the library in fall 2016 and she spoke about a lot of opportunities available through community colleges both for high school students and college level students. We are hoping to host another program soon about community colleges on a related topic, so check our calendar. 

    Community College gave me the opportunity to figure out what worked best for me and a chance to learn about a lot of support options through Disabled Students (which is really a fabulous program), I qualified for EOPS as a first generation college student with low income, and overall, the community college I attended made sure I had access to anything and everything I qualified for. This made a big difference for me. What I discovered through trial and error was that I did best if I attended college part time while working part time. I excelled at that schedule, all the way through to getting my BA and Master's degree with high gpa's. I also didn't think much of high school overall and like many teens, wasnt sure about college.  I discovered that I really enjoyed college and did even better academically in college once I discovered how much I liked the academic challenge and environment. It was so much better than high school and I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do.  I am grateful I had so much support and I learned about so many opportunities which helped my transition to a four year college (UC Berkeley) because I knew where to go to get help and accommodations. Four year colleges have the same sorts of programs and community colleges help you with that transition very well. 

    I have encouraged a lot of teens who don't enjoy high school to keep their minds open for college, which has so much more flexibility. By taking your general education requirement courses, you can discover what you do enjoy and take classes in what you are interested in for your major. My husband, also, attended community college where he, like me, discovered his interests were very different than his first academic plan and it helped him figure out where he wanted to study, all while being considerably more affordable and meeting the same rigorous academic requirements of four year colleges. 

    I'm happy to discuss my experience with you or your daughter. 

    Your daughter sounds exactly like mine!  I don't have specific school recommendations as my daughter is only considering art schools and digital design/film schools.  However, I do highly recommend our Educational Therapist, Amy Cheifetz.  She opened our eyes to gap year programs and the very real possibility of going to colleges that make my daughter happy, where she fits in, etc (was hard to see that before).  She'd be a great resource in finding the right place for your daughter.  Amy's contact info: (510) 207-2995. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Colleges for ADD kid who needs more support?

Feb 2016

my son who has had ADHD with major procrastination/motivation issues just withdrew from college after 3 weeks- not the right fit and not enough support- we are looking into U of A as we heard that the SALT program has good support services for kids with LD--any comments welcome as well as other suggestions for colleges that may be good for him. thanks! anon

Hi there: My child now attends Chartwell Dyslexia High School down in Seaside, California, and I think that a lot of their graduates attend SALT. It's considered very good.

I think that you should be a be able to talk with a LD counselor to find the right college? However, here's a list that I put together which might help: https://www.kifi.com/catmikk-work/ld-colleges

I am extremely sorry to hear that your son was forced to quit. It's hard on a kid to quit things and not be able to find some sort of ''win'' in a situation. There are some really good online programs that might (perhaps with a tutor?) be helpful. There's also an interesting Facebook group called California Homeschooling for College Credit that might be very interesting. It talks about how your child can take the CLEP test and can get 3 units at a cost of $80. So that means that he can study on his own for some of the classes. Apparently many homeschooling parents teach for both high school and college - it's similar.

You sound like a great parent. I have one of those also!

I have no experience with the SALT program, but my daughter, who has learning disabilities, lives in an excellent 3-phase residential program in Napa called Moving Forward Towards Independence. Napa Valley Community College is within walking distance and some of the residents take classes there. See moving-forward.org for more information or contact me. Jane

Our 19 year old son is a terrific student who has Aspergers Syndrome. He is very happily ensconced at CalState East Bay using the College Link Program, which helps kids with all sorts of learning differences. CLP provides coaches who can go WITH your student to classes, tutoring, guidance and counseling. CLP is an overlay program, you must be accepted to CSUEB on your own and then apply to the CLP program. Please look it up online at the CSUEB website. Cal state also has the Project Impact program which supports all kinds of students with anxiety or learning challenges with tutoring and counseling. Information about Project impact is also available on the CSUEB website. Best of luck! Carey

So, your post brought back memories for my husband and me, as he used to be a tutoring manager as a UofA grad student. We're both from Tucson and UofA alums. Our SALT experience is not current, but we still have UofA/Tucson connections.

SALT has a long history in what it does (my husband was there in the early 1990s. My husband said it always drew students from out of state (at the time, mainly Chicago/NYC) and that for SALT students, it WAS the university to them - which is helpful at a large state school. I would think that you would want to check out the center out and see if it's a fit. Note that the SALT student base is probably very different from the mainstream UofA base, which is largely from Arizona. We looked at the website and were impressed that it has continued to expand its mission and seems to welcome visits.

As for the University area, it has become easier to get around without a car with the arrival of a light rail that goes from the U to downtown with student housing and businesses along it. The UofA area also has an active shopping/restaurant district. You should know that Tucson itself is a very spread out city, so it's challenging to travel outside the University area without a car. The heat is also something to consider, as high temperatures extend longer than just summer months and while most buildings are air conditioned, it is a big adjustment for those used to the Bay Area and makes it challenging if you depend on walking and/or transit.

Not sure what would work for your son, but one nice thing about Tucson is that it's a very low key and casual place. Because there are only 3 universities in the state, the student base is very broad and I think there is a niche for everybody. Good luck in your search. mm

My son went to U Arizona and, while he wasn't in the SALT program, he had several friends who were. He told me that his SALT friends took their exams at the SALT center instead of in class, and that tutoring was available there. They all graduated. (I asked, because my youngest is still in high school and has ADD!) My impression as a UC Berkeley alum was that UA made an effort to guide its students through college in a way that other big universities like Berkeley don't. My son had left Berkeley High with a very mediocre GPA, was on probation at UA for a couple of terms early on (which meant mandatory tutoring among other things) and then popped up to the dean's list a few times after that, so that's saying something

In terms of campus life, my son had a great experience at UA and made many friends that he is still close with - many of them now live in the Bay area. UA is a big campus, but it was easy for him to make connections even though he knew no one there when he started as a freshman. The more conservative political climate in Arizona was an eye-opener for him, but Tucson itself is great and I loved visiting him while he was there.

Community colleges that work well for ADHD students

Nov 2014

I am exploring Community Colleges in California for my son. He has learning disabilities and ADHD that I hope will gain him some accommodations and special services at the Community College level (has 504 at school, never an IEP). If you have a child with experience gaining such services at Community Colleges can you please share your experience and the name of the college? Right now we are exploring many options, but some of the candidates include Ohlone, Foothill, West Valley, Sierra, Fresno City, Santa Barbara City, American River, Diablo Valley, Los Positas, Santa Rosa Junior College. Open to other options too, including Southern California, as long as they have the major he is interested in with good articulation agreements (that seems to be a tough challenge)! Curios Mom

My son also has ADHD. I'm not sure how we decided on Cabrillo College in Aptos but they have allowed him the accommodations he needs. Their learning specialists are attentive and he has a drop in tutorial session scheduled one day a week. His dad and I have been extremely happy with how his education has been handled thus far. He's a freshman so I don't have long range experience to offer. The biggest downside to Cabrillo is the housing situation. House shares are not necessarily close to campus. My son lives in Santa Cruz and either busses or rides his bike to Aptos, about a 6 mile commute. A car would be useful there. Good luck in your search.
Community College Mom


College for teen with ADD and learning issues

Oct 2014

Hi, I have a high school junior with some learning issues, processing and ADD type. We are just starting to look at colleges. She wants to go, but needs the right atmosphere and support systems in place. I know of PEN in San Francisco for some resources but wonder if any of you have any a. college prep counselors who might help identify schools and help with the process, and b. schools or resources to identify schools that might accommodate my child.

Thanks for any information you might have! parent of learning different college bound teen

My son is a freshman at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, a school for kids with LDs. All of the faculty are trained in teaching students with LDs. My son is having a positive academic experience for the first time in years. The students are closely tracked, and the classes are small. The school offers a two year AB program and a four year BA program. Other colleges have resources for students with LDs. For example, the University of Arizona's SALT program is well-regarded. Anonymous

Hi My son has similar issues. We have friends with children at Bayhill that have spoken very highly of their college counselors. Rebecca Field (from bayhill) has her own private practice and I just spoke with her recently http://www.rebeccafieldconsulting.com also they have another counselor who works with the kids who are community college bound, Ms Brown. I don't know if she has a private practice or not.

There is also a book that lists all the disability programs at all colleges in the US so you can compare resources but it is not useful for narrowing down the field. Peterson's colleges for LD students - here is the amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Colleges-Students-Learning-Disabilities-AD/dp/0768925061

Ms Field's offers a one session ''exploratory'' session where she will review records and make recommendations and she has an ongoing support package where she continues to meet with you and help navigate the selection/application process. It is pricey for us but if I think of going to a college which is a bad fit and/or doesn't have the right support . . . the price doesn't begin to compare. haven't done a session yet - just called her the other day but liked her on the phone good luck!!

Have you considered Landmark College in Vermont? I attended another small, liberal arts college nearby, and we heard nothing but good things about Landmark. Good luck to you and your departing child... http://www.landmark.edu/ Local Educator