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Speech and Hearing Perspectives

Finals Focus

Published December 3, 2015 12:13 PM by Speech Merion

By Tamer Abouras

Conceptually speaking, there’s nothing like college. It’s a place where you think, write and talk about ideas you’ll probably never revisit after graduation — unless you return as a professor. It’s a place where you get up at 11, go to parties three nights of the week and rack up debt you won’t have to worry about until after you’ve left.

In short, it’s a very odd state of being — you’re an adult, but with very few of reality’s encumbrances. So when you bring home a lot of strong opinions on The Bell Curve, you might find it hard to understand why your parents (who’ve worked all day) would rather just eat dinner and talk about whether you’re dating anyone.

There is one week per semester, however, when all the worst elements of post-college life show themselves, giving you a glimpse of what awaits after you turn the tassel: the sleeplessness, the lack of time to get things done, the constant rushing around. Just saying it can still send a shiver down your spine: it’s Finals Week!

SEE ALSO: What's Your Learning Style?

As any grown adult will tell you, real life is sort of a perpetual Finals Week, minus the part where you bomb a test on everything you should have been learning. The fact of the matter is, at least half of the struggle of any Finals week has to do with logistics and organization and clutter or an inability to compartmentalize necessarily make zeroing in on the task at hand that much more difficult.

Which all leads us to a little primer developed by Hallie Bulkin, MA, CCC-SLP. A speech-language pathologist who specializes in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Bulkin has also had an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) since she was 19.

In a guest blog for ADDitude, she discussed the seismic shift she went through during her first college semester, dropping from a straight-A student growing up to a 2.4 grade-point average (GPA).

“I went from being a straight-A student to receiving a 2.4 GPA in my first semester. I felt like a failure. I was devastated and couldn’t understand why I got C’s on tests, while classmates, who borrowed my notes, got A’s. I also couldn’t understand why I knew the answers to 13 of the 15 questions I got wrong, two weeks after the test, when I had not studied the material since before the exam. Something had to give.”

“I assumed that I had test anxiety. I was wrong. I was tested and diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 19. I was told that I was highly distractible and was a good candidate for Ritalin. Now I knew why I could hear a pin drop in a quiet room and have trouble refocusing. It drove me crazy.”

With the help of Ritalin and new, improved study habits, Bulkin improved her GPA to a 3.8 that spring and had a 4.0 each semester thereafter, all the way through graduate school. From her own private practice, she shared what she calls her “CORE” strategies for helping ADHD students succeed in school.

They’re certainly worth looking into, whether or not you have an ADHD diagnosis or have a loved one who does. As mentioned, everyday life is sort of like its own Finals Week. And unlike those crazy college days, not passing is really not an option.

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