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NCCU’S Preparing to Soar Program

Currently in its third year, the Preparing to Soar Program is an intensive academic enrichment program funded through the Accelerating Academic Success Program (AASP). The bridge program begins in the summer prior to freshmen enrollment and is designed to assist targeted student-athletes with transitioning to the college environment. The program enhances academic achievement, social support, and career awareness to provide these students with tools needed to successfully matriculate at North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

Participants can earn up to eight hours of degree applicable credits in English, Math and First-Year Experience courses, while participating in programs, activities, and cultural enhancement trips aimed to assist in the development of skills necessary to thrive academically and socially. In addition to gaining academic credit hours, students can begin earning a portion of the 120 community service hours that NCCU requires of all students prior to graduation. Service projects have included Habitat for Humanity, SEEDS Durham, and the Ronald McDonald House.

George Midgett, Director of Student-Athlete Leadership and Engagement at NCCU, explains that the program is focused on bridging the gap between high school and college by emphasizing academic preparedness. Midgett explains, “They are here on a team, our goal is to prepare them for what their next team might be.”

A total of 75 student-athletes (39 in-state and 36 out of state) across eight sports (football, men and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men and women’s track and field, and volleyball) have participated in PSP over the course of three iterations. More than 50% of the summer bridge participants have been football student-athletes. After the first implementation of the program in the summer of 2015, the football team recorded the highest single-year APR and in 2016 their retention rates jumped to 976. The women’s volleyball team has had a perfect APR score of 1000 in the past two years. Across all participating sports, outcomes have shown that the program has had positive impacts on retention, eligibility, and graduation rates. Twenty-five PSP participants have been named as scholar student-athletes and 10 were named to the 2017 MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team.

“You get to do a whole semester, but in 6 weeks, I think that’s really going to help us when we start playing. It gets me adjusted to the school already rather than me having to wait to come in the fall and get adjusted to the workouts, the game, and to school.” –NCCU student-athlete