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John Muscarello had no trouble making the transition to college life, despite his severe attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).
That's because the 20-year-old cultivated good habits while attending high school in Glen Head, New York. "I had an assignment pad where I wrote everything down," he explains. "I also had a big calendar on my bedroom wall. I wrote down upcoming papers and dates, so I always knew what I had going on. I would get home from sports, take a shower, eat dinner, take a pill, and then do all my work."
In high school, John handed in papers before they were due. "Teachers would help me revise them," he says, "and I'd hand them in again, when everyone else did." And he cultivated close relationships with faculty members - a strategy he continues at Pennsylvania's York College by e-mailing his professors at the beginning of each semester to introduce himself and explain his academic "issues." He got this idea from his mother, Mary, who always made it a point to meet with her son's teachers to give them a heads-up.
Of course, laughs Mary, "The fact that we owned a pastry shop and brought stuff to school didn't hurt either."
Things were different for David Burkhart, a 28-year-old graduate student. He had done well at the prep school he attended, where students woke up, ate, studied, and went to bed at prescribed times. Given the order imposed on him, no one even suspected that David had ADD, as well as dysgraphia.
But David's life unraveled as he began his freshman year at Auburn University.
"I got to college and moved into my own apartment. For the first time in my life, I didn't have a bedtime," he says. "I had no clue how to eat or plan my day. I went from having one hour of free time a day to having three hours of class a day - and nobody cared if I didn't show up for those. I 'washed my clothes' by buying new stuff. I bought a new pair of slacks every week."
Within weeks, David had dropped all his classes. He tried to hide the truth from his parents, but his father, the chairman of Auburn's psychology department, and his mother soon found out. David's dad sent him to live with an uncle in Florida, where he spent four grueling months pouring asphalt and considering what he would do differently if he returned to college.
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