Female college student upset with grades. 7 reasons why sollege students lie about grades

7 Reasons Why ADHD Students Lie About Grades

Posted on April, 24, 2024 by

True story… Scott, an engineering major, was one of my academic coaching college students. He was bright, funny, and a self-proclaimed super-nerd. He also had ADHD and an anxiety disorder. I was in my 3rd semester working with him and he seemed to be doing well. He was handing in work on time, self-advocating, going to weekly study sessions, etc.  We reviewed upcoming assignments, worked on schedules and routines, reviewed study strategies using content for upcoming exams, and so on.  I had two notebooks filled with notes from our sessions together. 

Right after the Fall semester ended, on New Year’s Eve (I promise, I am not making this up) Scott’s mom called me and was just freaking out.  Turns out she got his grades. He had dropped 2 classes and failed the other two, and incredibly, had not attended a single class all semester.  Not one! He fabricated every single thing he told me and everyone else. 

He kept this up for an entire semester and I had no idea. I’ve had years of experience with students who don’t always tell the whole truth, but this had never happened before.  I went back and reviewed all my notes and everything was so detailed and believable. Why would a college student do this? Why would they flat-out lie about their grades?

Keeping up this façade is stressful and exhausting. So why do ADHD students lie about their grades? Here’s some insight:

1) Fear of Disappointment: Some students may lie about their grades because they fear disappointing their parents. They may feel pressure to achieve high grades and worry about the consequences of not meeting expectations.

2) Avoiding Punishment: Students who are struggling academically may lie about their grades to avoid punishment or negative consequences. They may fear being reprimanded by their parents or facing academic sanctions such as academic probation from their school.

3) Seeking Approval: In some cases, students may lie about their grades to seek approval or validation from others. They may feel the need to impress their parents and friends and believe that inflating their grades will make them appear more successful or likable.

4) Protecting Self-Esteem: Lying about grades can be a way for students to protect their self-esteem and avoid feelings of inadequacy or failure. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their actual performance and resort to dishonesty as a coping mechanism.

5) Maintaining Status: In competitive academic environments, students may feel pressure to maintain a certain image or reputation. Lying about grades can be a way to preserve their perceived status among their peers or within their social circles.

6) Lack of Accountability: Some students may lie about their grades simply because they lack accountability or have a tendency to procrastinate or avoid confronting academic challenges. They may hope that by deceiving others about their performance, they can avoid addressing underlying issues.

7) Peer Pressure: In situations where academic achievement is highly valued or rewarded, students may feel pressured to conform to expectations set by their peers. Lying about grades may be seen as a way to fit in or avoid feeling left out.

Since school is much more challenging for students with ADHD, setting them up for success before the semester starts will increase success.  Look into getting accommodations at school, seek out an academic coach, and possibly a mental health professional. Encourage open communication at the beginning of the semester. 

As a result of what happened with Scott, ACA coaches now have all students share their screen each session to check grades and assignments to ensure this does not happen again. By doing this, parents can rest assured their student’s academic coach is getting a full report of actual grades in real-time

It’s important to remember that students who conceal grades are usually honest and genuine people who want to succeed. Understanding the behaviors and letting your child know you will support them no matter what will lead to positive results.