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NASPA First-generation Student Success Conference

Division/Group Events Student Success

Presented By

The NASPA First-generation Student Success Conference examines a breadth of topics critical to advancing the holistic outcomes of first-generation students. The conference program considers the vast intersectionality of first-generation students, the systemic and institutional barriers to success, evidence-based practices and approaches to student support and services, the role of assessment and evaluation, opportunities to build celebratory campus environments, and strategies for building networked campus approaches to scaling support.

Participants will have an opportunity to learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success while engaging with practitioners, scholars, and advocates in multiple presentation formats, research discussions, and networking events.

For more information on the 2024 NASPA Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education, please visit this website.

About the Center
The Center for First-generation Student Success is the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students.

First-generation college students are critically important and an increasing population at nearly all institutions of higher education. As college and university leaders and practitioners are actively seeking avenues to best meet the specific needs of first-generation students, the Center for First-generation Student Success emerges as a leader for scholarly discussion, information sharing, networking, and program development.

The Center, based at NASPA in Washington, DC, aims to acknowledge the intersectional experiences of first-generation college students through provision of services and guidance across institutional types. This website serves as a home for Center updates and announcements, an outlet for sharing cutting edge research and current media conversations, opportunities for engagement through conferences and events, and access to a bevy of programs and services intended to improve first-generation initiatives across higher education.

The Center is just getting started. We encourage you to become involved in current and future initiatives and look forward to learning how you are currently serving first-generation students in your community. Thank you for your commitment to first-generation student success!

Learning Outcomes and Themes

Understand the lived experiences and vast intersectionality of first-generation college students across academic years, institutional types, and sectors
  •  In what ways do multiple, intersectional identities shape a student’s understanding of their first-generation identity?

  •  What do first-generation students identify as the most important supports in their holistic success during college?  What do first-generation students identify as the largest barriers?

  • In what ways can intersectional identities be considered in the placement, development, and implementation of first-generation programs and services to create more inclusive environments and serve more students?


Discuss systemic and institutional barriers first-generation students face in higher education and identify asset-based strategies
  • What are the systemic issues most detrimental to first-generation student success specifically? What asset-based strategies are currently in place to rectify these issues?

  • In what ways do institutional shifts toward “student-ready” approaches shape the experiences of first-generation college students?

  • What roles do campus practitioners and faculty play in removing barriers to success for first-generation students?  What strategies are being successfully used at the systemic and institutional levels?


Identify and utilize strategies for supporting first-generation students and bridging gaps in cultural capital through asset-based programmatic approaches, services, and skill-building
  • What are strategies for identifying and shifting first-generation student support to an asset-based framework?  What is the benefit of making this shift?

  • What programmatic approaches are experiencing success in bridging cultural capital for first-generation students?  In what ways does improved cultural capital lead to improved academic outcomes for first-generation students?

  • What approaches do campus practitioners identify as having the greatest impact on first-generation student experiences and outcomes?

  • How are successful first-generation programs and services being resourced and scaled to meet the needs of a greater population of students?


Discuss and implement approaches for creating an engaged campus community that identifies, supports, and celebrates first-generation college students
  • How can a campus audit of policies and procedures uncover opportunities for improving how first-generation students navigate campus?

  • What are strategies for encouraging senior leadership to commit to first-generation student success as an institutional priority?  What successes are campuses finding with the identification of a point person and committee to lead first-generation efforts?

  • What are approaches to faculty development that improves classroom experiences and pedagogy specific to first-generation student needs?

  • How are institutions building a campus climate that celebrates the successes of first-generation students and their contributions to the campus community?


Recognize and engage with scholarly literature and current research critical to understanding and advancing first-generation student outcomes
  • How can current literature and research offer a foundation of evidence for supporting institutional requests for expanded resources or services or for program development?

  • What are useful approaches to identifying important findings specific to first-generation students when research often focuses on intersectionality?

  • What innovative new approaches to combating systemic and institutional barriers are present in current and emerging literature?  What new programmatic approaches are featured?

  • How might practitioners and scholars advance first-generation research on their own campuses or as priorities in their own research agenda? 


Consider evaluation, assessment, and data strategies for understanding and improving institutional and programmatic first-generation initiatives
  • What approaches are institutions using to identify first-generation students, collect data, track across the academic career, securely share information, and utilize raw data and findings to improve experiences?

  • What evaluation and assessment measures and tactics are being successfully employed with first-generation programs? How is this data used to scale support and secure additional resources?

  • What approaches are successful in building strong relationships with Institutional Research to access critical academic and persistence data on first-generation students?

  • What innovative approaches are being used to evaluate the non-cognitive factors of first-generation students?