About College STAR

College STAR (Supporting Transition Access and Retention) is a grant-funded project that enables participants to partner in the development of initiatives focused on helping postsecondary campuses become more welcoming of students with learning and attention differences. Much of this work is made possible by generous funding from the Oak Foundation.

College STAR provides a network of support for students who historically have slipped through the cracks in our 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 professionals, this initiative is providing the opportunity for participating campuses to learn together and implement effective strategies for teaching students with varying learning differences in postsecondary settings. By providing direct support for select groups of students and instructional support based on principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for the faculty who teach increasingly diverse groups of learners in today’s college classrooms, we will make a positive difference for a wide variety of students.

Anchor campuses for the College STAR project include East Carolina University, Appalachian State University, and Fayetteville State University. In the early phases of the project, we worked together to infuse the College STAR mission throughout our respective campuses with a two-fold focus:(A) direct student support to students within our specific target population + (B) campus-wide focus on UDL to benefit all students.  Our programs are not cookie-cutter programs, but instead are designed with each specific campus mission, culture, and priorities in mind. A commitment to shared learning permeates throughout the College STAR initiative, and a project-wide evaluation model guides our work together.  Currently, our network is expanding well beyond these anchor campuses, and this is where you come in.

The Network…

Our goal is to establish a national network among people (students, educators, families, organizations, policymakers, etc.) dedicated to ensuring that colleges and universities are places where learner variability is anticipated and embraced. We will build on the promising practices that have emerged from our anchor campuses, with hopes to connect our learning with those around the nation who have a similar mission and interest. By working together, we can understand and implement best practices that are anchored in research and share them broadly. Boots-on-the-ground resource development and research, built upon partnerships across educational settings (K-12 and postsecondary), to inform and support our daily work is an important goal of College STAR.

The College STAR network is designed to partner constellations (sub-networks) of campuses, people, and organizations for long and short-term work together. Collectively, we will continue to promote network-wide connections and shared learning about making our colleges and universities places where students with learning and attention differences can excel. The map above depicts some of the stars in our network. Click here to see some of our active constellations.  As you can see from those descriptions, the work of each constellation is varied – including areas of focus such as:

  • Collaborations among student support programs
  • Research projects with specific interventions or student support methods
  • Development of resources to promote and support infusion of UDL principles on postsecondary campuses
  • Collaborations between K12 and Postsecondary settings for research or resource development
  • Research projects among STAR Learning Communities (SLC’s) of faculty and staff members about best-practices with UDL

The possibilities are endless!  The College STAR team is not at the center of this work, but seeks to facilitate connections, provide support and technical assistance when possible, and collect/share learning from the successful practices happening in the constellations across our network. We have no desire to re-invent or “silo” work already being done by others with similar missions. Instead our goal is to find connections and learn together.

Want to Know More?

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