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Looking Back at This Fall Semester…

By Jon L. Thomas, EdD

As students return from the Fall semester, both first termers and veterans of earlier semesters breathe a sigh of relief followed by feelings of either joy or regret, depending on how they rate their performance of the past several months.

Hopefully all are using the longed-for winter break to ask a few important questions: What worked? What didn’t work? what skills will I need to bring forward or develop for the spring semester?

Students (and we tend to meet many new ones this time of the year) often report struggles in 4 distinct categories:

Failure crept up on them
Many students are having difficulty calibrating to the sole responsibility for their academics and frequently overlook early warning signs that they are slipping into dangerous territory. Missed classes, assignments, papers, and other deadlines can build while the student is distracted from this burgeoning problem. And by the time they act, it may be too late. Students need to develop skills that keep them alert to the earliest warning signs of trouble and arm themselves with ready solutions to stop the slide of failure.

Fatigue and emotion overtook them
Some students reported they were energetically “hanging on by a thread” as Thanksgiving holidays approached. As they returned to finals, they had little energy left for the hard work of finals and semester end. Some students didn’t weren’t aware of the importance of monitoring and managing their energy. They packed their lives with lots of activities and late nights of schoolwork. For others, the stress of their new demands resulted in anxiety and/or depression; significant energy drains. They needed emotional intelligence and a means of monitoring energy, stress, and emotions.

Motivation was illusive
The structure of high school and the camaraderie of other students in similar endeavor was absent. Left to their own devices to motivate themselves for the first time in their lives, many reported relying on an old standby: Fear motivation generated by procrastinating effort toward approaching deadlines. Besides tapping great amounts of necessary energy, this method often led to missed deadlines and subpar performance. They needed an understanding of their own personal motivation style and the means to successfully implement it.

Organization and other Executive Skills didn’t happen
Some students described this semester as a disorganized nightmarish melee of missed or late work and frantic searches for due dates and assignments. For many it was the first time they were solely responsible for so many aspects of their academic and home life and they became overwhelmed. They needed an understanding of how ADHD affects their executive function skills, awareness of accommodations and how to ask for them, and a tool set to bring them to a more successful means of approaching their semester independently.

How will these students return in the Spring armed with tools and strategies to be successful?
During winter break, we are offering a workshop series of 1-day courses designed to provide skill sets for monitoring and averting failure; developing motivation and self-advocacy; managing energy, stress, and emotions; and organization and other executive function skills. You can find these workshops on our “What We Do/Workshops” tab. Register today!

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.