UC Riverside’s strides in increasing the ranks of first generation college students and supporting them through to the completion of their studies won the campus a place on a distinguished national list, it was announced Wednesday.

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators placed UCR on its 2020-21 “First-Gen Forward” honor roll, designated as a “First-Gen Forward Institution.”

“We are thrilled to be part of the cohort,” said Thomas Dickson, assistant vice provost of Undergraduate Education. “It’s a chance to recognize the great work that is being done at UCR. The support programs and structures we’ve developed have been well received by our campus partners. Together, we are moving forward with supporting our first-gen students.”

According to Dickson, 58% of the university’s undergraduates are first generation college students, meaning no members of their immediate family preceded them in obtaining a four-year degree. The graduation rate for first-gen students is almost 60%, and the freshman year retention rate is 88%, according to campus officials.

By contrast, the average for universities nationwide is 34% of students who are first in their family to receive a higher education, according to NASPA.

“Now in its second year, First-Gen Forward institutions continue to lead the nation by their commitment to first-generation student success,” said Sarah Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “The 2020-21 cohort consists of diverse institutions across the nation, and we are pleased to welcome UC Riverside for their long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for scaling first-generation student initiatives.”

According to UCR, comprehensive programs are available that focus on promoting first-generation education through mentorships and other efforts. The Office of Undergraduate Education also partners with various organizations to prepare incoming first-gen freshmen for the regimens to which they’re required to acclimate, officials said.

“The goal is for students to find open doors and multiple contacts across the university who can support them at every step of their educational journey,” according to a UCR statement.

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