The College Experience for Students with ADHD


How does an ADHD diagnosis affect the college experience? Recent research allows the students to weigh in.

Africa Studio/Adobe Stock

Africa Studio/Adobe Stock


Nearly 10% of children aged 2-17 have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nearly 8.1% of adults aged 18 to 44 in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD, and 129 million children worldwide have ADHD.1 But how does a diagnosis of ADHD impact individuals’ lived experiences when they go to college?

Maricla Pirozzi, EdD, of Northeastern University contributed a poster presentation discussing the college experience for students with ADHD at the 2022 American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders (APSARD) virtual conference.

The study discussed in the poster presentation, “The College Experience for Students with ADHD,” was based on semi-structured interviews with 8 students enrolled at Northeastern University who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The interviews prompted participants to answer questions relating to their disability identity and internal and external support systems. Pirozzi used a framework based on the Theory of Self-Determination by Richard Ryan, PhD, and Edward Deci, PhD, and analyzed the data using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.

Pirozzi found that early diagnosis and identification of ADHD, as well as strong support systems were very influential factors impacting students’ growth, academic success, self-awareness, and self-confidence during college. She further found that balancing internal and external motivations was key to students’ effectiveness and well-being, with internal motivations having a particular impact on student autonomy.1

Pirozzi is associate co-op coordinator and director of Multidisciplinary Masters Co-op Programs in the Northeastern University College of Engineering.


1. Pirozzi M. The college experience for students with ADHD. Presented at 2022 APSARD Conference. January 15, 2022.

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