College STAR (Supporting Transition Access and Retention: A UNC System Initiative Supporting Students with Learning Differences) is a grant-funded project that is enabling participating universities in the UNC System to partner in the development of initiatives focused on helping campuses become more welcoming of students with learning differences. These initiatives include both students and faculty, and are intended to support students who have identified Learning Disabilities, diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or students who do not have a disability label but who may benefit from instructional understandings and strategies designed for students who learn differently from what is typical. This work is made possible by generous funding from the Oak Foundation, the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.

A chart describing College STAR in the current phase.

College STAR is buildinga network of supports for students who historically have slipped through the cracks of the education system—students who are capable of college success, but who often struggle academically because they learn differently. By weaving together direct supports for students, instructional supports for faculty members, and partnerships with public school settings, this initiative offers an opportunity for participating campuses to learn together and put in place effective strategies for teaching students with varying learning differences in postsecondary settings. By blending direct supports for select groups of students who learn differently and instructional development support based on principles of Universal Design for Learning for the faculty who teach increasingly diverse groups of learners in today’s college classrooms, we hope to make a positive difference for a wide variety of students.

Thus far, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Appalachian State University, and Fayetteville State University have been working individually and collaboratively with the support of UNC General Administration to implement College STAR activities. Eventually our goal is to expand our network of schools working together to develop and research best practices for serving the diverse learners on our campuses today.

Direct Student Support Component(A)

Current College STAR campuses have each developed a network of supports for students with learning differences for whom college access and/or retention has traditionally been limited. These individual campus-based initiatives will weave together a system of campus resources that identify and recruit students with learning differences and provide support throughout the undergraduate experience. Some programs also facilitate transition from high school or community college for selected participants.

Component A - Key Features

  • Activities Focused on:
  • Identifying and serving students who are traditionally underserved
  • Disseminating transition support information
  • Incorporating student voices in program design, delivery, and ongoing refinement
  • Facilitating and monitoring a network of campus services
  • Providing and monitoring direct student support based on best-practices including
    • Student space
    • Academic support
    • Support for general college adjustment
    • Resource and technical support
    • Logistical and long-term support

Instructional Support Component (B)

Component B – Key Features

  • Activities Focused on:
  • Supporting active and ongoing faculty involvement in training, research and/or mentoring activities
  • Facilitating student engagement and involvement & integrating student input in planning and evaluation
  • Infusing principles of UDL in and beyond the classroom to a wide range of educational environments
  • Promoting increased awareness and use of assistive technology resources
  • Creating and disseminating convenient, useful, and credible online instructional resources
  • Embedding Learning Assistant tutors in key foundations courses
  • Raising awareness of UDL for faculty members who are new to the university

Want to know more?

Please check our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common questions College STAR receives.