With college accessibility front and center, many institutions are actively seeking ways to support first-generation college students, and a report from NASPA and The Suder Foundation offers a comprehensive look at the best practices among colleges and universities supporting first-generation students.

While 80 percent of four-year institutions identify first-generation status upon admission, many aren’t doing enough to support first-generation students when they come to campus.

Paving the way to graduation

“First-generation students now make up a third of students nationwide, yet only 27 percent will earn a bachelor’s degree within four years of entering college, lagging far behind their continuing-generation peers,” says Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “While we know first-generation students are capable and making significant contributions, services for students are in flux across institutions today.”

Related: 5 ways our college is helping first-generation college students succeed

The report shows that institutions are inconsistent in sharing information across campus and monitoring outcomes for first-generation students–only 61 percent of four-year institutions track outcomes for these students; just 41 percent use data to inform support programs for them; and only 28 percent store information on first-generation status in systems that faculty can access and use.

An asset-based approach

The campuses that are most successful in supporting first-generation college students take an “asset-based approach” that recognizes the substantial contributions of first-generation students to academics and campus life–to developing programs that utilize the inherent strengths of first-generation students to improve belonging, efficacy, and overall outcomes.

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