Home » ADHD » Blogs » ADHD Millennial » Things Are Getting Weird in Higher Education

Things Are Getting Weird in Higher Education

In the beginning of May, I wrote a post in which I reflected on what standardized tests mean for people with ADHD, as well as the possible advantages and disadvantages of giving standardized testing less of a role in college admissions.

Shortly after that post, the University of California system announced that it would be phasing out its use of the SAT and ACT. Perhaps head of the UC system (and former Secretary of Homeland Security) Janet Napolitano is a secret reader of ADHD Millennial.

Apparently, what happened is that, like many schools, the UCs temporarily made standardized test scores an optional application component due to COVID-19. Then they decided that since they never really liked the SAT and ACT anyway, they might as well just make that change permanent.

GraduatesThat development led at least one Forbes columnist to wonder whether the SAT is on its way to becoming a thing of the past.

Since then, other schools have announced that they will be dropping the SAT, if not permanently, at least for the next admissions cycle. To give just the latest examples, Penn State said yesterday it would make standardized test scores optional, and Caltech has said it won’t consider SAT or ACT scores for the next two years.

Even the College Board, which produces the SAT, seems to be giving up on the SAT to some extent. The company has been trying to develop a remote version of its test in response to the pandemic but recently threw its hands in the air and declared that the technological hurdles to doing so were too high.

It’s 2020, and things are getting weird in higher education.

That’s not just the case when it comes to standardized testing, of course. Ask the Class of 2020, which just became the first class in history to graduate online en masse. Another commencement season, and still no legitimate institution of higher education (or illegitimate one for that matter) has yet to take me up on my open offer to give a graduation speech in exchange for an honorary degree and a link to my blog.

The weirdest thing of all, though, might be what school looks like when it starts up again this fall. Whether that is going to involve remote learning, in-person learning with students sitting six feet apart, or some combination of the two, no one really knows. Any of those options would create unprecedented logistical challenges for schools and will likely lead to “the college experience” looking a lot different that what we’ve gotten used to.

So where does all of that leave students with ADHD?

I’ve written quite a bit about my own journey through college with ADHD and my thoughts on school in general, so I can’t help but try to imagine what it would be like to be a student with ADHD in the current environment.

On the one hand, I have to think that the unexpected transition to a new way of learning would create enormous challenges. Students with ADHD have already had to put a lot of work into coping with ADHD while attending school the traditional way, and now there’s the need to develop new coping strategies for having ADHD while attending this new, weird kind of school.

On the other hand, if there’s anyone who’s good at developing new coping strategies, it’s going to be students with ADHD. As Hunter S. Thompson says, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

In a sense, maybe students with ADHD for whom the education system didn’t work very well anyway don’t have as much to lose in the transition to, at least for the time being, a new kind of education system. For example, as someone who always struggled to pay attention during lectures, I think at least in theory I’d be able get used to not being able to attend in-person lectures anymore.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t huge challenges facing students with ADHD in terms of support networks and existing coping strategies being disrupted, for instance. All of us with ADHD, students or otherwise, are now in a time of honing our ability to develop new ways of coping and living our lives.

If you’re a student with ADHD, I’d be curious to hear what your experiences have been so far – feel free to share below!

Image: Flickr/Rodney Martin

Things Are Getting Weird in Higher Education

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). Things Are Getting Weird in Higher Education. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Jun 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.