Sober College, Woodbury University partner to help students both learn and recover

October 04, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Woodland Hills, CA October 4, 2010 A new partnership between Sober College and Woodbury University allows students receiving treatment for drug addiction to also get their lives back on track in the classroom. Tailored for Sober College clients, the specially designed Woodbury courses combine recovery with entry-level classes such as public speaking, creative writing, sociology, and psychology.

"At the start, we had Sober College participants take a film class on the Woodbury campus," states Robert Pfeifer, founder of Sober College. "What we soon realized was a very close alignment between our five core competencies and the academic objectives of Woodbury University. While we see our students as capable as Woodbury students, they just aren't ready to be on a college campus."

Matt was such a student. His path to Sober College included enrollment at a Texas university, several trips to the local emergency room and placement in a short-term inpatient program. Matt recalls, "I smoked weed and drank some in high school, but I was still very successful and ended up with an academic scholarship. I started to drink heavily from the first night onward and during rush week at a fraternity I was introduced to cocaine. The first week of college I did not even go to class and very quickly my using spun out of control. I ended up becoming severely addicted to coke and not being able to function. After a year and a half, I had to drop out of school. Needless to say, besides my drug addiction, my confidence as a student was at an all time low. Leaving that campus, I thought I'd never graduate."

According to Sober College Academic Director, Corrine Barner, "Matt's story is not unusual. We get a lot of students who have lost their academic confidence. Additionally, students in early recovery don't handle stress well so we must do everything possible to support them while building momentum."

This support is present in the tailored, yet academically rigorous Woodbury courses that offer college credit and help Sober College clients explore the depths of their addiction in a classroom setting with other addicts and alcoholics.

"The learning process is complex and the needs of students are different. The Woodbury partnership with Sober College concentrates on the achievement of learning objectives as opposed to rote learning. This innovative approach is designed to help students change their lives for the better," says David Rosen, Ph.D., vice president , Academic Affairs, Woodbury University.

Debra, Matt's mom recalls, "When we first found out Matt was in trouble, our first priority was getting him sober. However, in the back of my mind I really didn't want him to miss out on school and thankfully we found Sober College. Their partnership with a real university was so unique and different from all the others and created the leverage to help us convince Matt to enroll in additional treatment at Sober College. Every other place offered your traditional residential program with attendance at an off-site campus, but that was something Matt was not ready for. He needed full support for his recovery and return to academics."

The Woodbury courses are offered at Sober College by trained faculty in modular format that allows students to start courses when needed and sit for a final once all of the sections are completed, explains Eddie Clift, Ph.D., dean, School of Media, Culture & Design, Woodbury University.

According to Matt, "The classes I took from Woodbury really changed my life. I started taking speech at Sober College, and it helped me to learn how to talk to people. I was an incredibly socially anxious person, and hated talking in front of people. I credit the class with helping me get my job because I did so well in the interview. Creative writing helped me to really develop my artistic side. I did not know that I had an artistic side while I was getting loaded. It turns out that writing has helped me a lot, and I really enjoy it."

Never has drug and alcohol treatment so seamlessly fit together with an academic program. "Woodbury and Sober College's curriculum and institutional goals align to create a powerful goal of reinvigorating the passion of education within our students," reports Barner. These classes will give the students the ability to understand and facilitate communication as well as to gain transferable credit. They are designed to help the disenfranchised student deal with past failures and current uncertainties while helping them discover the lifelong benefit of education.

Matt couldn't agree more. "The Woodbury classes gave me the confidence to return to college academics and be successful. With the foundation in sobriety I received from my work at Sober College, I was able to continue my journey and finally graduate with a bachelor degree in psychology."

About Sober College:

Sober College, headquartered in Southern California, is a small private institution providing alcohol and drug treatment environments for young adults age 17 to 25. The Sober College curriculum builds core competencies in life skills, employment, academics, emotional well-being and fitness. For further information visit our website at or call 800-465-0142.

Contact Information:
Robert Pfeifer, MSW
Managing Partner and Founder

About Woodbury University:

Woodbury University, founded in 1884, is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. It is located in Burbank, California, and is WASC, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, accredited school. They prepare innovative learners who are adept at communicating and willing to cross the boundaries of knowledge in a rapidly changing and complex world. For more information visit their website at

Contact Information:

Edward Clift
Chair, Department of Communications