Two Very Special Graduates Start Anew

A college degree is precious, but embarking on a new phase of health and recovery is every bit as momentous.

Two recent graduates have extra cause for celebration this season: Andy D., a psychology major, and Timothy B., a business major, closed the book on one chapter, and have begun to write another. Each received his bachelor’s degree after overcoming struggles with substance abuse. Prior to graduating from Woodbury earlier this month, Andy and Timothy were alumni of Sober College®, a program for young adults ages 18-26 that combines accredited college classes and dual-diagnosis drug and alcohol treatment.

The Sober College®/Woodbury University partnership – the only one of its kind in the U.S. to fully integrate rehabilitation and academics – offers young adults in recovery the opportunity to complete up to five three-unit, college-level courses along with their treatment and recovery program. Students who complete all 15 units earn a Certificate of General Studies and are guaranteed admission to Woodbury for further studies. Alternatively, they may transfer credits to another college of their choice. Around a dozen students have taken advantage of the guaranteed admission program.

Andy was a high school dropout when he was admitted to Sober College. “I wanted to get sober and take the next step in my life but it felt so out of reach.” With the support and guidance of Sober College’s academic and clinical staff, Andy was able to complete high school. As he recovered, he rediscovered his passion for life and for education, and that led to Woodbury. “At Sober College I saw staff who were happy, accomplished and successful, and I wanted to be a part of that,” he says. “I knew that their happiness was the result of their going to school and pursuing a career they were passionate about.”

Sober College’s partnership with Woodbury likewise helped Timothy complete the college degree he had long sought. “When I came to Sober College I had attended several community colleges and a four-year university but was not able to finish due to my drinking,” he recalls. “I kept getting derailed. While at Sober College I was able to learn the tools I needed to be successful. I took the Woodbury courses offered on-site at Sober College and used the partnership with Woodbury to transfer previous credits and complete my degree.” Now pursuing his Master’s degree at Woodbury University, Timothy says the sky is the limit.

The Sober College® curriculum revolves around topics relevant to the rehabilitation process, including creative writing, health and wellness, psychology, public speaking and sociology. Courses were designed by Woodbury University faculty and are taught, lecture-style, by adjunct professors hired by Woodbury. To accommodate the inflow and outflow of individuals at varying stages of their treatment programs, each day’s class offers discrete content. At the end of each course, students receive a letter grade, which then is applied to their college transcript.