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A Message For Parents

By: Jon Thomas, EdD, and Pamela Barton

This article begins a series which addresses the question “Is my student ready for college?” We begin by introducing some of the approaches, methods, and tools available for determining college readiness for students with ADHD.

As a parent or a clinician, wouldn’t it be great if you could give your graduating high school senior an assessment or short test that would tell whether she is ready for college? What would such a test examine?

Like many things in life, ascertaining readiness for college is more complicated, not something revealed by a single short assessment. How can you realistically predict how your child will respond to a myriad of variables in a new context, especially when she is developing and becoming at a faster rate than at any other time in her life, in a world that is rapidly changing as well? Fortunately, there are ways to get at some of this information.

To begin, we can know that challenges will occur and problems will pop up. The most an assessment can do is forecast how her personality and resources will be challenged. The most a survey can determine is the contexts in which problems could arise for the student.

In addition to the aforementioned assessments and surveys, clinical review is an important part of the process. Integrating the information gleaned from all three tools provides the best answer to the question of a student’s college readiness.

Executive functioning assessments, such as the LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory Student Report) and the Barkley BDEFS (Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale), rate a student’s basic internal processes, such as thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. Results indicate areas of strength as well as areas of limitation and need for work.

Self-report surveys ask about behavioral aspects of college readiness, such as a student’s self-advocacy skills, relevant life skills, and capacity to function independently and with intent.

Clinical review involves a study of relevant records including testing data and reports coupled with an in-depth interview. Ideally, the interview involves input from parents as well as the student. A comprehensive compilation of all this information can yield a broad view of areas that need attention and preparation and can indicate a relative level of college readiness as opposed to an up or down determination or prediction that a student will succeed or fail.

By effectively forecasting the areas where a student might struggle, we can offer personalized training and other preventive remediation which will help students perform to their greatest potential.

Future articles will address issues such as:

What is executive functioning?

What executive function assessments are available?

How effective are they?

Surveys for college readiness

Effective elements of a college readiness clinical review

We are a uniquely integrated program of College Readiness & Success Training, Academic Coaching, Mental Health and Career Counseling for high school and college Students with ADHD.