FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville State University said it has reached a major milestone in the number of students enrolled for its summer classes.
The HBCU said the new benchmark has translated into higher retention rates, and more students getting their diplomas. Students at Fayetteville State told ABC11 that its summer school is helping them get the best out of some of the most important years of their professional lives.
Brianna Alston said she's been enrolled in FSU's summer school since 2021. Alston said enrolling in the summer program is helping her graduate this year with two degrees, in accounting, and business administration.
"This program has allowed me to take the courses that I need in increments, so that is, of course, not too much on my mental. And of course, I can take care of myself mentally and physically, but I can still gain the knowledge that I want and that I need," Alston said.
Alston is just one of the record numbers of almost 4,300 students to be enrolled in Fayetteville State's free summer school this year, amounting to 66% of the university's overall student population. That's 17% more summer students enrolled than last year. The university also reports a 6.4% increase in retention and a 2.5% increase in its four-year graduation rate.
These milestones come just as the United States Supreme Court's recent decision to limit affirmative action in college admissions is shedding a spotlight on the value of HBCUs nationwide as well as the unique opportunities they offer to Black students.
"Our students are stepping out in magnificent form in terms of recognizing, understanding the importance of keeping the cost of education low, eliminating the debt as much as possible, and getting it done in four years or less," said FSU Chancellor Darrell Allison.
Students said the summer classes have been personally enriching, too.
"It helped my communication skills, it helped me talk to people better. I've gotten to know more types of people ... and also, since this is an HBCU, I get to be around my culture more," FSU Student Seth Thompson said.
"I'm honored and I'm very grateful for this opportunity because not everybody gets this opportunity," said Audreyana White, another student.
"I'm using it to my advantage and taking as many classes as possible," Alston said, "so that I can gain a degree and continue to be the role model for people that are younger than me, to show them like, 'Hey, come to college. It may not be what you think right off the bat, but in the long run, is definitely going to pay off.'"