Innovative Program Helps College Students to Reach Graduation, Find Success

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With the majority of U.S. college students taking six or more years to graduate, if they finish at all, a Pittsburgh-based program offers the help they need to complete college. Student Strategy 101® is a program that uses an integrated approach to uncover why students may be struggling or failing college, then helps them to get back on track to graduation. Its staff and affiliates are qualified to work with a broad array of issues, ranging from poor learning skills to emotional and learning disabilities, making it a highly effective program.

I really see results in this type of approach,” adds Allan Clark, M.D., an adult and child psychiatrist who works with the program. “It covers the learning end plus can also catch subtle issues that the educational system normally doesn’t.

According to 2009 U.S. Department of Education data, only 36% of U.S. college students, on average, complete a bachelor’s degree in a four-year timeframe. Even after six years, only 58% will earn a four-year degree, if they aren’t among the 42% of students that drop or fail out nationwide. The trend is toward longer college stays, which means higher costs and debt for students and families. With the U.S. ranking 15th out of all developed nations in college graduation rates, some studies suggested that this very issue threatens the future economic competitiveness of the U.S.

But, why are college students taking longer to graduate or not finishing at all? This is what a new and innovative Pittsburgh-based program, Student Strategy 101®, helps to answer. In the shadow of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Melon, and other schools fit in to so many city blocks, the puzzle of college failure is being solved one student at a time. By using an integrated approach, Student Strategy 101® deals with student issues ranging from poor study habits to undiagnosed emotional or learning issues. “It’s a complete myth that bright students can’t fail,” says Jeff Ludovici, Program Director for Student Strategy 101®, “and, there can be many reasons for it.”

The program uses a combination of work with the students, schools, and parents, plus a network of many experts and professionals to help pinpoint problems and find solutions. The program’s supports range from local tutors to psychiatrists and neuropsychologists. Most problems can be traced back to something that was missed or didn’t happen when the student was planning for college. The solutions often require ongoing support while in college, specialized interventions, and the student re-thinking their college career from a more “strategic” point of view.

Flagging student performance, although, can be a complex issue, since students who did well in high school can find themselves doing poorly in college, often for unspecified reasons. Jeff, who holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, begins with past academic performance and how the student approached college, then identifies problems from there. Academic skills, student engagement, school and major choices, and many other factors all play in to the “formula” for success. “You need to examine all the factors,” he continues, “and sometimes the solutions to student problems are complex. There’s a big difference between having ordinary test anxiety and having an anxiety disorder, or between not understanding a subject and having a learning issue. Defining the real problem is the key.” In many cases, he adds, problems were simply missed in the planning phases, or planners lacked the necessary knowledge to see clear risk factors prior to college.

“I really see results in this type of approach,” adds Allan Clark, M.D., an adult and child psychiatrist who works with the program. “It covers the learning end plus can also catch subtle issues that the educational system normally doesn’t. Student performance can often be dampened by emotional, cognitive, or social issues. They’re not mutually exclusive. The best approach, of course, is to catch problems while the student is in high school and to have appropriate transition planning.”

“We specialize in helping students re-start their college careers, and help families plan well to prevent problems ahead of time, even outside of the Pittsburgh area” Jeff adds. “We have clients in many parts of the country.” Student Strategy 101® also has the ability to help special needs students effectively transition to college, which can include arranging for supports before the student starts classes.

About Us

Student Strategy 101® is a comprehensive program that helps students to plan for and complete college. It works directly with students, families, colleges, and high schools to help students attain higher education success and to improve student retention and graduation rates. For more information, please contact Jeffrey Ludovici, M.A., at 724-944-9387, or visit Their College Strategy Blog can be viewed at


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