I read in this morning’s Los Angeles Times about students at USC who are first in their families to attend college. “All told, about 20% of the university’s undergraduates, including the student body president, are first-generation,” says LA Times writer, Rosanna Xia. “Most are supported by some kind of financial aid.”
A university provost, Dr. Michael Quick, was a first generation college student, having grown up with a father who was a construction worker. His dad “chased jobs all over the country.” Dr. Quick attended sixteen different high schools. He told the Times that “the college application process was uncharted waters.” He now has a doctorate in neuroscience.
He wants first generation USC students to know how to manage life on campus with more privileged students and those already familiar with university environments. USC wishes to “help students navigate the culture shock of joining such an environment.” Dr. Quick told the Times that the university offers “crash courses on how to use the many resources at the library, and sessions on fellowship opportunities and tutoring centers. Seminars help students think about what steps they need to take toward graduate school and future careers…”
If you are a new college student taking ADHD to a campus, you may feel overwhelmed like first generation students. There are resources at universities that can increase your chances for success, and you should learn about them before you arrive on campus. There are educational consultants who can help you before you leave home.
Some universities offer classes for credit that introduce new students to college-level study skills. High school effort will not be sufficient, believe me! Still, college-level work is manageable and far more interesting than high school.
One nice advantage of the college environment is the likelihood of finding more likeminded peers. The overall population is larger, making for larger subgroups. You can find your tribe. But they are not going to be looking for you. You will have to take some initiative to learn about groups and organizations where you can meet your people.
Look for resources available to incoming students. Visit the university office of disability services and ask about requirements to qualify for services that you might need. If you wait until you are struggling and needing assistance, it will be too little too late.
I was a first generation college student (long before ADHD symptoms got a name), and I was lost for the first couple of years. By the time I caught on, I had to work doubly hard to make up for missed opportunities and to raise my GPA. I wanted to get into graduate school. Leaving home with ADHD was a daunting experience that I was unprepared for. If only someone had told me…
Perhaps I should be more contrite and say, if only I had listened or sought help!