ADHD, or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurological syndrome that causes executive functioning challenges (EFCs). These include important mental processes like concentration, attention, and motivation. As a result, people with ADHD may have difficulty managing their time or following through on tasks. They may also be forgetful and disorganized. (Find out more about ADHD here.)
The symptoms of ADHD can cause challenges in every area of life. They can be especially harrowing for undergrads dealing with ADHD in college. These students often struggle to meet the demands of their classes and keep up with assignments. Fortunately, some schools have developed special academic support programs that provide much-needed assistance for individuals struggling with a documented learning disability or attention deficit disorder on campus.
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Top 10 Rankings
||Garden City, NY
||The University of Arizona
||Saint Louis University
||Saint Louis, MO
||Ursuline College (TIED)
||Pepper Pike, OH
||Southern Oregon University (TIED)
||Westfield State University
||Fayetteville State University
The 20 Best Value ADHD College Programs Methodology
First, we created a list of all the four-year, public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer supplementary assistance programs for individuals with learning- and/or attention-based disabilities. Next, we conducted a thorough analysis of the types of resources available at each school, paying close attention to services that specifically benefit ADHD students.
We gave programs 15 points (up to 105 total) for each category of support service they cover:
- Academic coaching or study skills counseling
- Skill-development workshops or groups in topics like time-management, learning strategies, organization, etc.
- Content tutoring for specific courses (not including free peer-tutoring available to all undergraduates)
- Required study halls
- Supplementary academic advising
- For-credit courses/seminars to help build good study habits
- Peer mentors
Schools earned an extra 15-point boost if at least one component of their program focused specifically with EFCs and/or ADHD in college. Those with a slightly broader focus (on all language- and attention-related learning disabilities, for example) earned a 10-point boost.
Finally, we factored in annual expenses by looking at net price and participation fees* (if any) associated with the learning disability/ADHD college program. We subtracted points from each school’s overall score based on these figures. For example, a school with an annual net price of $30,000 and program fees of $3500/semester would lose 3 + 3.5*2 = 10 points, while a school with a moderate net price of $20,000 and free services would only lose two points.
*A few of the fee-based programs did not list specific cost information. For consistency, we assigned these schools an average fee of $2,200/semester based on the data available from other colleges.
The final results are below. Enjoy!
Adelphi University's robust Learning Resource Program makes it a top college for ADHD students. Thanks to this initiative, those with adequate documentation of an attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (or another learning disability) are eligible for personalized academic and professional counseling, as well as access to a computer lab designed around their needs. Specifically, this lab features assistive software and interfaces such as ZoomText, Kurzweil 3000 Firefly, and the Premier AT Accessibility Suite, each of which augment word processing and web browsing capabilities with the likes of text-to-speech translation, text enlargement, and more.
Already recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the ten best colleges for students with ADHD, Northeastern University is practically a shoe-in on this list. Northeastern's Learning Disabilities Program pairs qualified students with expert counselors who make it their mission to help every student succeed. In practice, this translates to biweekly, hour-long meetings that cover everything from class scheduling and study strategies to mental health counseling and long-term career goals. And while the program runs about $2,750 per semester (beyond the price of tuition), a special Brian Evans Learning Disabilities Program Assistance Fund can help mitigate these costs for several applicants each year.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona's Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center is a hub for a wide variety of student resources, including specialized ADHD Coaching. For a reasonable fee ($1,350 for a minimum contract period of three months), this program helps those struggling with ADHD in college by connecting then with a personal academic coach. Students work one-on-one with their coach to develop the following core competencies: Daily Structure, Focus, Organization, Planning, and Task Initiation and Completion. Weekly sessions take just 15-30 minutes (in person or over the phone) and provide the accountability that many participants need to stay on track with their goals.
Saint Louis University is home to one of the best ADHD college programs in the country. In addition to its conventional Student Success Coaching program, which offers one-on-one training in essential skills like note taking and time management, SLU also features a variant specifically designed for students with learning disabilities. In this program, students can receive coaching in the "executive function skills" that many with ADHD often haven't developed to the same degree as their peers. SLU's resources for learning disabled undergraduates even extend to alternate format course materials and assistive technology.
Auburn University's SKILL Program is a top ADHD college program that features diverse strategies for achieving student success. This semester-long program consists of several stages, starting with an initial interview and ending with preparation for final exams. Over the duration of the semester, undergraduates in the program have weekly meetings with a dedicated counselor who helps them develop both short- and long-term goals, implement plans of action, and determine their assistive technology needs (if any).
Like Auburn, Ursuline College offers its affordable ADHD college program in stages to address the evolving challenges that can arise along the path to graduation. In many cases, the first stage is all that is necessary. At this level, students receive weekly counseling sessions, progress monitoring, and priority registration for courses. For those who could benefit from more substantial assistance, Stages 2 and 3 provide additional and more intensive services, including up to three weekly counseling sessions and academic tutoring. While these extra resources can cost up to $1,200 more per semester, basic accommodations (like audiobooks and extended test times) are always free of charge to anyone in the program who needs them.
Southern Oregon University (TIED)
Proudly offering "more than accommodations," Southern Oregon University is home to an impressive range of disability resources, especially for students with ADHD in college. In particular, SOU's University Coaching and Academic Mentoring (U-CAM) service provides learning-disabled undergraduates with a robust support structure that encourages personal growth and academic success. Not only does the program pair eligible participants with a personal counselor, but it also matches them with a professional writing coach as well! Through weekly sessions and mid-term progress meetings, these experts help students build the focus and study habits that will serve them throughout their college careers and beyond.
Westfield State University
Established in 1979, Westfield State University's Learning Disabilities Program has been helping students with ADHD achieve their academic goals for nearly 40 years. Like many other schools on this ranking, WSU's affordable ADHD college program includes features like early course registration and individual peer tutoring. However, undergrads in this program also receive guidance from a professional Program Advisor who serves as a personal counselor and mentor. Program Advisors monitor students' progress in their academics as well as within the program itself, helping them develop productive habits and tangible goals along the way.
ADHD and college don't always mix well, but that's not a problem at Marshall University. Marshall's Higher Education for Learning Problems (HELP) Center makes it easy for learning-disabled undergraduates to get the help they need, whether it be tutoring, academic advising, or even just a quiet room for distraction-less test taking. But the advantages don't end there; Marshall's HELP center also offers a Skills Development Program where students can address their "organizational, working memory, and executive functioning challenges" alongside qualified learning specialists. Skills development may also extend to academic foundations such as reading, writing, and math.
Fayetteville State University
One of the nation's best colleges for ADHD students, Fayetteville State University takes a multifaceted approach to learning disability support. To begin with, FSU's Bronco STAR program offers many of the resources available at other schools on this list, including regular meetings with academic success coaches and peer learning assistants. These meetings help participants in the program plan their course loads for the semester as well as their schedules week to week. But FSU takes things even further with UDL, an "innovative pedagogical model" that is designed to accommodate a variety of learning styles simultaneously.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale understands that a "one-size-fits-all" approach is not the best way to help learning disabled students. So instead of offering a single comprehensive service for all undergrads, SIU's ACHIEVE program provides a collection of resources that cater to a variety of learning disabilities. To support this mission, this top college for students with ADHD employs a wide range of staff, including "advisors, case managers, test proctors, academic coaches, and content specific tutors." These trained professionals can help ACHIEVE members with everything from time management and organizational coaching to reading and writing assistance to personal counseling. And in the end, each participant enjoys a unique and customized experience that suits their exact needs.
Thomas More College
Crestview Hills, KY
When it comes to learning disability programs, many of the schools on this ranking set a high bar for quality. Yet Thomas More College's Institute for Learning Differences (ILD) somehow manages to up the ante even further. In fact, with everything from self-advocacy coaching and life skills workshops to individualized learning plans and assistive technology training, it would almost be harder to name a service the ILD doesn't offer for students dealing with ADHD in college. And while many of these resources are optional, all program participants will benefit from five to seven hours of contact time with their success coach each week.
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University's Project SUCCESS combines academic coaching, individualized tutoring, and focus groups to provide a full suite of resources for learning-disabled students. Academic coaching specifically emphasizes "goal clarification and achievement" and serves as an important source of accountability and structure for those who frequently struggle to stay on track. Individuals with ADHD may also find the focus groups to be particularly useful, as they address topics like time management, test-taking strategies, and learning styles. And while Project SUCCESS is fee-based, applicants from any of Kentucky's 51 Appalachian counties are eligible for a tutoring grant that could cover the entire cost of participation - talk about an affordable ADHD college program!
West Virginia University's top ADHD college program is called MindFit, and it's exactly as intense as it sounds. The MindFit program is comprised of two main services: Academic Enhancement and Cognitive Enhancement. The former consists of one-on-one academic coaching in skill development and executive functioning (such as time management and study strategies) as well as content tutoring. The latter is a unique service that focuses on improving overall cognitive function through games, exercises, and neurofeedback training. Both services are designed and delivered by qualified learning specialists who are experienced with ADHD and other common learning disabilities.
Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University has one of the most unique, most affordable ADHD college programs on our ranking. Focused primarily on helping students with executive functioning challenges (EFCs), ASU's As-U-R program is practically made for individuals with ADD/ADHD. Services include peer mentoring and strategic tutoring, individualized instruction in learning strategies, and customized training to alleviate issues related to planning, organization, and task follow-through. To encourage accountability, As-U-R also requires participants to spend at least three to six hours each week in "Study Central" (aka study hall). In addition, the program highly encourages members to enroll in one of two skill-building seminars for students who learn differently.
Anyone who struggles with an attention deficit disorder will attest to the fact that ADHD and college courses are natural enemies. Fortunately, Dean College offers a unique set of learning resources that can take that relationship from discord to harmony. Some of the school's more typical services include assistive technology, free tutoring (from faculty and staff as well as peers), and fee-based academic coaching. But what really sets Dean apart is its Arch Learning Community, an all-inclusive program that features specialized academic advising, weekly seminars, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Arch members even have access to smaller classes to increase focus and accountability in the classroom.
As one of the five best colleges for students with ADHD, Davis & Elkins offers (almost) everything one could ask for in a learning support program. Each week, SLP participants meet with a program instructor to discuss their progress, set and review goals, and work on identifying their learning strengths and weaknesses. Depending on individual needs, these meetings may also focus on developing better time management and organizational skills. Members must also attend five hours of a supervised study hall each week and have the option of attending group meetings specifically for students with ADHD and executive function challenges.
Southern Methodist University
Most of the schools on this ranking of top colleges for students with ADHD consolidate their services into one program. And while Southern Methodist University does not, the resources it offers are no less robust. To start, undergrads with attention deficit disorders can sign up for one-on-one academic coaching and receive targeted instruction to improve their learning strategies. Those who could use some extra help might also enroll in a special "Reading and Learning Strategies" course for LD/ADHD students. And for incoming freshmen who want support from their peers, too, the on-campus "Students for New Learning" organization will gladly match them with an upper-class mentor.
What makes Limestone a top college for ADHD students? To find the answer, one needs only look to the Program for Alternative Learning Styles, or PALS. This program offers everything that students with ADHD will need to succeed - and then some! Benefits of participation include regular consultations to improve time-management/organizational skills, supervised study halls, tutoring sessions, and supplementary academic advising. PALS also offers a one-credit course on study strategies each semester and provides regular progress reports to encourage accountability. And students who want to push themselves even further might consider attending a workshop on a topic like study habits or writing techniques.
Mount St. Joseph University
For the past 35 years, Mount St. Joseph has been providing assistance for learning disabled students through Project EXCEL. And after more than three decades in the field, MSJU has learned a lot about what it takes to be one of the best colleges for ADHD students. The goal of the program is not just to help undergrads with learning differences make it through college, but to actually see them succeed academically. As such, members of Project EXCEL receive practically unparalleled support, from adult professional tutoring and executive function coaching to personalized academic advising and progress monitoring. In addition, all freshmen participants must enroll in a "Study for Success" course to ensure they start their college journey on the right track.
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top colleges for ADHD students!
Attention Deficit Disorder Association
NCES IPEDS Data Center