Examining a Year-Long Program to Prepare First Year Undergraduate Students for Success


  • Erik Byker University of North Carolina at Charlotte https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2475-4195
  • Susan Harden University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Bruce Taylor University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Chris O'Brien University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Amy Good University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Adam Myers University of North Carolina at Charlotte


In relation to the track theme of Supporting Student Engagement and Success, our presentation explains the contours of the Cato College of Education’s Prospect for Success (PFS) program.The PFS program is grounded in three central Student Learning Outcomes for first-year students: Intentionality, Curiosity, and Awareness. Intentionality helps students identify and create meaningful academic and career goals. Curiosity is predicated on the rationale that students who actively participate in their educational experience— by being curious—will be more invested in their education as they deepen understanding of the inquiry process throughout their university experience. Awareness is focused on cultural diversity and the intersectionality of gender, race, and socioeconomic class. We also share how the PFS program is organized as a year-long continuum program in the Cato College of Education. We describe a number of lessons learned from the implementation of PFS in the past several years. These lessons include: (1) Our experience and outcome data suggest that weaving non-academic learning outcomes with content is a balancing act but one that offers multiple benefits to first-year students; (2) The importance of on and off campus partnerships as invaluable for engaging and supporting first-year students; and (3) the integration of active learning strategies are essential features of student success. Finally, we showcase examples of the assignments and data findings related to students' completion of PFS in relation to  sustained success at the university. This includes a description of how PFS supports UNC System performance measures including 4 year graduation rate and degree efficiency.