BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Many college students may not be able to focus on their lives and careers ahead of them in or out of a physical classroom. One local university is going the extra mile to keep students on the right path.

“I wasn’t doing good. I was behind enough where I needed help,” said David Wilson, a senior.

The ACT 101 program at Bloomsburg University is one of 34 in the keystone state. It’s a program where financially and academically struggling students, many from rough beginnings, can get a second chance.

“An ACT 101 student is able to access additional academic support, academic advice and financial counseling,” said Ralph Godbolt, director of access and success and interim dean of students.

Talking with some of those teachers and even the students involved, they say ACT 101 is a great start, but it’s their Emerging Scholars program that’s really taking it to the next level.

“I was reinstated, after I was academically dismissed,” said Wilson. He’s a West Philly native who struggled and needed that opportunity to come back with more support. Now he’s what the school calls one of their emerging scholars.

It’s comprised of ACT 101 and a personal counseling component.

“In our rap sessions we talk about social justice. We talk about violence that happens just in our communities, and talk about very personal issues,” said Wilson.

“What happens is not the concept of students ‘cannot learn.’ It’s the concept of students sometimes disconnect from a curriculum that doesn’t represent their background. For emerging scholars, they’re taught how to use their experience as positive and negative to inform their academic work,” said Godbolt.

There are scores of students across the commonwealth who could benefit from another crack at higher education with the right tools.

“Everyone needs help at some point, right? We all need help at some point. I think college is one of the places that people should have something like the Emerging Scholars Program and the ACT 101 program. You need both of those things conjoined,” said Wilson.

We’re told the retention rate for students in Bloomsburg University’s ACT 101 program has increased by nearly 20 percent in the last couple of years.