Finding the Fast Track Back
Only a few have dedicated housing set aside, on or off campus, for recovering students. Others may have subcontracted with a skilled provider to offer (supervised) dorm-like apartment residences for students in recovery. Sadly, most aren’t set up yet to provide much residential support, especially for newly enrolled or transfer students. The students and staff of the recovery group will understand and be glad to help you sort this out, but you must ask.
Don’t be bashful. After you’ve identified a few schools, ask your hoped-for colleagues in or the adviser to each collegiate recovery community whether there’s a designated person in their admissions office who specializes in students in recovery. This person not only can help guide your application process, but he or she will also know about residential life, sober student activities, and other institutional and outside community resources. If there isn’t a designated admissions staff member, seek out the staff or student leaders of the collegiate recovery office, and ask for someone there to mentor you through the admissions process. Having been there themselves, they will encourage and help you. Some of the savvier schools are fast-tracking recovering applicants; a select few have special scholarship monies set aside to attract and support students in recovery. The helping hand is there: Find it and hang on. Someday you’ll want to give back, too.
Focus on Your Academics
Finally, stretch high for the academic brass ring. Sure, college is a time to have fun, too, but you’re going to be excited by the experience of studying with a clear head, perhaps for the first time in a long while. With this newfound personal balance, use the college opportunity to let your intellectual curiosity blossom. You may find new interests and change your ideas about your major or even your career. You should now be able to rack up the grades to produce an impressive GPA and develop an interest in (and from) graduate schools.
You have plenty of early personal knowledge that bad emotions and unpleasant human experiences clog up mental circuits and block the learning channels. They also produce almost endless distractions from the efficient production of academic work in all its forms. With your deeper fears allayed — and a new group of friends supporting you — there should be no limit to what you can get out of your new college experience.
Go for it!
Ben Mason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.