This study examined factors relevant to successful African American students from urban settings who undertook post-secondary study at predominantly rural, white universities. The purpose of the study was to identify characteristics of successful students along with effective institutional interventions which might be used to enhance the success rates of students in similar situations. The characteristics and interventions were compared to existing theories regarding student success. The study also examined the ethical defensibility of enrolling under prepared students as part of a general effort to enhance campus diversity. The model used was a case study. A series of focus groups and individual interviews were conducted at two predominantly rural, white, public universities. The subjects were African American and graduates of public high schools in a large city where the public school system is notoriously under funded and generally performs poorly. In addition to student interviews, meetings were held with administrative staff on both campuses whose offices provide services intended to support the retention of students. Before the research was conducted, it was assumed that African American students from urban, largely African American high schools and neighborhoods would experience significant adjustment difficulties at predominantly rural, white institutions of higher education. It was further assumed that these adjustment difficulties would be social and academic in nature, and that specialized characteristics of individuals, in concert with institutional interventions, would be cited as important to those students who were successful. Research findings led to the conclusion that social adjustments were not a barrier for the students in this case study. Most adjusted quickly and easily, and none reported serious adjustment issues. Academic adjustment issues, on the other hand, required heroic effort on the part of most students, the majority of whom had faced academic dismissal at some point in their matriculation. It was found that the critical elements of success for the students in this study were resilience and the support and care of individuals including family members and staff.