Fayetteville State University (North Carolina)

Fayetteville State University (North Carolina)

Students in Fayetteville's CHEER Scholars program had one-year retention rate increases of 6 to 17 percent over a five-year period.

Fayetteville State University’s (FSU, an HBCU) CHEER Scholars program is a summer bridge learning community created mainly to assist academically underprepared students who are disproportionately of low-income and underserved backgrounds. CHEER is a five-week, full-time intensive curricular and co-curricular experience that encompasses 12 hours per day, six days a week. The program goals include strengthening academic preparation; adjusting to campus life and expectations; and developing habits for college success. The structure and course design are based on the assumption that the more engaged students are, the better their grades and the more likely they will persist. 


Students are assigned to a community of roughly twenty students with whom they attend class, participate in the required tutoring sessions, and attend “Wise Choices,” a series of evening and weekend programs and workshops that address co-curricular aspects of college life such as character and ethics, health and wellness issues, and goal setting.

Students in the CHEER program can earn up to eight college credits before their first year of college, including course credits in English and mathematics, comprehensive academic support activities, and programs that promote personal development.


Over a five-year period, the one-year retention rate for CHEER Scholars was 6 to 17 percent higher than rates for their non-CHEER peers. Relative to nationwide HBCU peers, FSU also performs quite well. Between 2005 and 2007 HBCUs averaged a 62 percent retention rate versus a 71 percent rate for FSU cohorts and a 79 percent rate for CHEER Scholars. Further, the CHEER program has been so successful it has been designated a model for the state system. FSU has been called to advise three other institutions in the system with planning similar summer bridge programs and has received special funding from the state higher education system for the program.

In recognition for the student success efforts, Fayetteville State University received a Lee Noel and Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award in 2010.

Case study used with the permission of Fayetteville State University.

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