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University Participant (UP) Program

The WCU UP Program provides an inclusive, two-year, on-campus living and learning experience for college-aged persons with intellectual disability. The goal of the program is to facilitate UP students' transition from secondary school to adult life with education, employment, and independent living.  

UP students live in on-campus dormitories distributed throughout university residence halls under the same university policies that apply to all WCU students. On-campus life is fully integrated and inclusive. There are no separate facilities, settings, or classes for UP students.

WCU undergraduate students are recruited to provide paid and unpaid support to facilitate UP Students living on campus, attending classes, engaging in social and recreational activities, becoming involved in student organizations, and developing friendships.

Prospective and current UP students and their families will want to check out the WCU UP Program Policies for information related to UP students status; admission criteria; the UP Certificate of Accomplishment; residential living; interagency and community supports; program termination; fees and accommodations; and program operation within the WCU community.

The UP Program was partially funded as one of the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) through the Office of Postsecondary Education and continues to serve as a model demonstration program for North Carolina.

UP Program Purpose

The WCU University Participant Program is designed to provide a two-year, on-campus living and learning experience for college-age persons with intellectual disabilities. The program is limited to six new students per year, with a maximum enrollment of 12 students at any time. During the two-year period, students are expected to complete requirements for receiving a UP Certificate of Accomplishment based on the successful completion of an Individual Plan for College Participation.

University Program students are not eligible for an undergraduate or graduate degree from the university and are not eligible to earn college credit. They are permitted to audit individual courses as part of their UP Program and required to pay appropriate fees for these courses as well as other university costs (i.e., housing, meal plan, student activities, etc). 

Program Outcomes

The UP Certificate of Accomplishment is awarded after a two-year period based on satisfactory completion of five program components. These components include the following:

  • Personal development skills (e.g., communication skills, personal care skills, self-determination, etc.)
  • Community participation skills (e.g., using public transportation, budgeting, grocery shopping, etc.)
  • Vocational preparation skills (e.g., learning specific job skills on or off campus)
  • Social participation and learning (e.g., participating in university functions such as athletic events, belonging to university clubs or organizations)
  • Course auditing (e.g., auditing three to four courses per semester)

Note: Participants must pay current university fees for auditing courses.

At the completion of the two-year period, students will be eligible for a UP Certificate of Accomplishment based on the following criteria:

  • Completion of 1,800 hours of learning activities over a four-semester period (450 hours per semester)
  • Achievement of at least 80 percent of the objectives per semester within each component of the IPCP
  • Recommendation for a UP Certificate of Accomplishment by the UP Director and Program Steering Committee

Want to learn more about our outcomes? Here are a few highlights and testimonials in our recent "UP to Date Report" created in June 2017.

Interested in learning more or getting information about important upcoming dates? Complete our interest survey!

UP Program Staff

Kelly R. Kelley, Program Director 828-227-3298 Killian 120
Alexandra Raxter, Program Coordinator 828-227-3318 Killian 120
Susan K. Buchanan, Support and Career Services Specialist 828-227-3297 Killian 120
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