Tools Every ADHD College Student Needs

The following tools and supplies are proven time savers and can prevent students from unnecessary stress down the road.  These tools fit the formula for ADHD Friendly – easy to see, easy to access, and convenient. They should be in every student’s toolbox for college.  


  1. Archive Folder  Students often have old tests, essays, papers, or documents they don’t want to throw away but are unsure what to do with.  Having an archive folder is perfect for these items.  Having one place for similar items is helpful.
  2. Important belongings Losing essential items like keys, wallets, phones, etc., can create significant stress for a college student. Stress makes it extremely hard to focus, concentrate and make good decisions.  Stress also makes things like studying and homework take longer. Reduce stress by using a Bluetooth tracker.  Bluetooth trackers can be placed on important items that tend to get misplaced.  You can use a GPS map to locate them or send a signal to the lost items you can locate in seconds.  Adding color or something that stands out, such as an oversized colorful keychain, can also make things stand out when looking for them.
  3. Laptop The laptop is one of the most expensive items that college students are responsible for.  Laptops are also costly to fix.  Damage from spills and other accidents can cost upwards of $1000 to repair. Invest in a protective outer case and a keyboard cover. 
  4. Chargers It’s not uncommon for students to get to the library and suddenly realize one of their batteries is at 2%. Keeping a spare charger for the laptop, phone, tablet, etc., in the backpack will save a lot of wasted time and stress.  Make sure to label the charger for easy identification. Also, designate a specific backpack pocket for chargers and label it so that it’s easy to remember where they are stored. 
  5. Cell Phones Cell phones are another item that can get misplaced, cracked, or stolen.  Mishaps like this can create enormous stress and distraction for a college student. Additionally, the time required for locating, fixing, or replacing the phone can take away from doing other important tasks.    Invest in a good protective case and screen protector.  Avoid DARK phone cases, which tend to camouflage themselves, making it easier to leave them behind in places like a car, library, or restaurant. Some students have also found putting a bright piece of reflective tape on the phone case helps. 
  6. Storing Everyday Items Items like cell phones, keys, student IDs, or wallets, should be stored in one designated place.  Baskets tend to work best and should be located close to an outlet so items can be charged while sitting in the basket. Find a unique basket that fits your style or preference.  The more you value something, the more you will use it and consider it important.  The basket should stay in that place permanently, so consider the weight or use some adhesive to stick it to the surface.   
  7. External Hard Drive Bad things can happen to computers for various reasons. For example, losing important things like papers, or class notes can create unnecessary stress and have a negative impact on grades. Hard drives help prevent stress during events such as computer crashes or lost data.
  8. Whiteboard with Extra Dry-Erase Markers Whiteboards are excellent visual tools for reminders, notes to roommates, brainstorming a paper or a project.
  9. Durable Binders, Folders, and Spirals in Different Colors Purchase different colored items to represent and organize each class. Color makes it much easier for the ADHD brain to quickly identify what is needed to grab for class. Binders or spirals with pockets are great for storing class handouts, syllabi, and other papers.
  10. A Safe or Type of Lockbox Unfortunately, theft of ADHD medication is on the rise on college campuses. A safe or lockbox is a good option for storing medications and other valuables.
  11. Portable Pill Container Purchase a pill container that attaches to the inside of your backpack in case you forget or need to take meds during the day when you are away from the dorm.
  12. A Good Alarm Clock Students with ADHD tend to have trouble getting up in the morning. Find a good alarm clock that best supports how you prefer to wake up. There are alarm clocks that emit different lights to simulate the sunrise, alarm clocks that move around the room, alarm clocks that shake the bed, and even alarm clocks that are in the shape of a mat and require you to stand on it to turn off. Alternatively, several apps on your phone have great alarm options as well.
  13. Multiple Hooks Utilize multiple hooks in your dorm room to make items easy to see, convenient, and accessible.
  14. Clear Containers for Storage Use clear containers to make stored items easy to see.
  15. Label Maker When items like files or folders have “official-looking labels” on them, it highlights the item’s importance. Labels work particularly well for ADHD students because they make locating and organizing things easier.
  16. Multiple Pens, Pencils, Highlighters Students with ADHD can waste time and energy searching for pens, pencils, or highlighters. Having a bulk supply can save a lot of time and stress; you can never have enough!
  17. Have a Snack Students with ADHD sometimes forget to eat or have minimal appetite.  A protein snack with a sports drink can help boost attention and give energy to get through the day.