What is UTOP?

The University Transition Opportunities Program (UTOP) began in 1986 to facilitate the underrepresented student’s transition from high school to college. By involving incoming UNC Charlotte freshmen in a rigorous six-week summer collegiate experience, UTOP builds upon the scholastic abilities of the students through college courses and contact with University academic support services.

UTOP’s success came immediately and has continued for over 30 years through increased retention and graduation rates. UTOP students have taken leadership roles such as UTOP mentors, SAFE counselors, Student Alumni Ambassadors, orientation counselors, and student government and organization leaders.


UTOP in the Classroom:

UTOP class schedules are designed by the UTOP staff to assist each student in establishing a solid academic foundation as they begin their college career. Upon completion of the program, UTOP students will have earned seven credits towards graduation.

Orientation to the University:

Knowing who to ask and what to ask is essential to university survival. On their way to becoming the best informed freshmen on the UNC Charlotte campus, UTOP students learn about the many resources available to them as university students. Each day during Universal Hour, students become aware of:

Atkins Library Auxiliary Services (Dining, 49er Card, Bookstore, Campus Mail, Copy/Print, etc.) Campus Activities Board (CAB)
Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Center for Wellness Promotion Dean of Students Office
Disability Services Financial Aid Fraternity and Sorority Life
Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement Leadership & Community Engagement Police and Public Safety
Recreational Services Study Abroad Student Health Center
Student Organizations Students Advising for Freshmen Excellence (SAFE) University Advising Center
University Center for Academic Excellence (UCAE) University Career Center Writing Resource Center

Beyond Academics:

Students live in a residence hall on campus during UTOP to gain a head start on adjusting to college life. They begin to develop good study skills and living habits. Interpersonal skills strengthen, and students form many lasting friendships which continue through and beyond their college careers.

UTOP mentors play a vital role throughout the UTOP experience. These carefully selected students share their experiences and help UTOP students become aware of university expectations for students. UTOP mentors live in the residence halls with UTOP students, attend classes with students to effectively assist students during study hall and aid in the development of skills needed to succeed in college and assist in the coordination of events.

UTOP students participate in weekend extra-curricular activities:

Bowling and Laser Tag at SpareTime Entertainment Carowinds Amusement Park Charlotte Knights Baseball and Fourth of July Celebration
Civil Rights Museum (Greensboro, NC) Skating Night at Kate’s Skating (Gastonia, NC) UTOP Talent Show

Program Outcomes:

Through a mentoring relationship with an upper-class student, UTOP participants will:

  • Ease their transitional experience from high school to college.
  • Make connections academically, socially and co-curricularly.
  • Receive direct support from another student at the university.

Benefits of UTOP Mentorship:

  • Academic support
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased motivation
  • Broadening horizons and experiences
  • Raised achievements and aspirations
  • Networking
  • Building relationships
  • Increased awareness of campus resources and opportunities


UTOP ’92 Participant Demond Martin: Investment Rock Star to Entrepreneurial  

Empowering university transitions at Charlotte with Raftr-Case Study

UTOP 2020 Spotlight-Charlotte 2023-2024 Golden Niner: Kenan Moore

Bank of America Invests $2.5 Million to Support Student Success at Charlotte

Raftr, Community-First Platform for Universities, Sets Record Growth

Inside UNC Charlotte (January 11, 2021): University Leads the State in Awarding Degrees to Latinx Students

Inside UNC Charlotte (September 13, 2019): UTOP Cements Success

Exponential – UNC Charlotte (August 17, 2018): The UTOP Experience

University City Partners (September 22, 2016): Newly named Popp Martin Student Union honors 2 alumni

Charlotte Observer (June 10, 2015): UNC Charlotte programs offer freshmen unique opportunities

Center for American Progress (September 9, 2014): How Public Universities Can Promote Access and Success for All Students

UNC Charlotte Magazine (Q1, 2011): UTOP at 25, Silver Anniversary for a Golden Program