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.”
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.