AUSTIN, Texas — The Center for First-generation Student Success has recognized The University of Texas at Austin as a member of its inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions, universities committed to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. UT joins 80 universities that will receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the center’s research and resources.
“The University of Texas at Austin is committed to supporting first-generation students, and I’m very proud that we are now a First Forward Institution,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “The purpose of our university is to unlock potential, and when we foster upward mobility by providing opportunities for students to be the first in their families to earn college degrees, we live up to that purpose.”
More than 20% of UT’s undergraduate students are first-generation. During the past several years, UT has prioritized improving support for them and their families.
Efforts include the creation of a working group that supports campus-wide efforts for first-generation students and coordinates an annual celebration for the national First Generation College Day. The working group developed orientation programming specifically for first-generation students and their families. They continue to strengthen networking events for UT’s more than 9,000 undergraduate first-generation students and welcome events for new freshman and transfer students.
The UT campus efforts focus on ensuring first-generation students know that they are important members of the Longhorn community who are recognized as trailblazers for their families and communities. The university seeks to achieve this by enhancing community and providing resources to improve the success of first-generation students.
UT’s efforts have helped dramatically increase the four-year graduation rate for first-generation students, from 40.9% in 2012 to 61.5% in 2018.
“The center is so pleased to welcome UT Austin into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that the campus community is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students, but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.
As a First Forward Institution, the university will engage with other institutions that are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students.
To learn more about first-generation efforts at UT Austin, visit firstgeneration.utexas.edu. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.