SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA – Wofford College has been named to the Center for First-generation Student Success’ First-gen Forward cohort for the 2022-23 academic year.
The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. First-generation college students are defined as students whose parent(s)/guardian(s) or those they spent a significant amount of time with while growing up have not completed requirements for a bachelor’s degree.
“First-gen Forward now recognizes and supports nearly 300 diverse institutions across four cohorts, all of which continue to lead the nation through their commitment to first-generation student success,” says Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “We are pleased to welcome Wofford College for its long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for advancing first-generation student initiatives.”
The center is an initiative of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. Institutions selected for the cohort will receive professional development, community-building experiences and a first look at the center’s research and resources.
First-generation students make up nearly 15% of Wofford’s student body. The college offers scholarships for first-generation students, including the college’s First-Generation Scholarship, which is up to $25,000 a year. Fifty-six First-Generation Scholarships were offered to students for the 2021-22 academic year. Many of Wofford’s first-generation students are also invited to participate in the college’s Gateway Scholars program, which helps ease the transition to college life at Wofford.
The Wofford Firsts initiative was created in 2018 to highlight, celebrate and empower the first-gen student population, as well as faculty and staff who are also first-gen. Annual programming and workshops have been held, including the First-Generation College Student Celebration Week each November.
“Wofford College aims to help all of its students do more than earn a degree,” says Dr. James Stukes, assistant dean of student success and college access. “We want to help them thrive. Participating in First-Gen Forward will provide more evidence-based practices and resources to continue supporting Wofford’s first-gen students.”
In the most recent edition of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of colleges, Wofford ranked No. 73 in social mobility among national liberal arts colleges. The college has climbed 45 spots in the social mobility rankings since 2019. The ranking measures how well colleges graduate students receiving Pell Grants, which are typically given to students from households with annual incomes of less than $50,000.
Ninety-five percent of Wofford’s students receive some form of financial aid. The college’s average financial aid package exceeds $35,000, and every applicant is considered for merit-based scholarships.
As a First-gen Forward Institution, interested faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer institutions that also are creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes for first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First-gen Forward Workshop slated for early June and will participate in monthly calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation.
About the Center for First-Generation Student Success
The center 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. Based in Washington, D.C., the center aims to acknowledge the intersectional experiences of first-generation college students. It offers an outlet for sharing cutting-edge research and current media conversations, opportunities for engagement through online learning, conferences and events, and access to a bevy of programs and services intended to improve first-generation initiatives across higher education.
NASPA is a member-centered association supporting a diverse and passionate network of 15,000 professionals and 1,200 institutions across the globe. It is the professional home for the field of student affairs and is dedicated to cultivating student success in collaboration with the missions of its institutional members—a network of colleges and universities representing every sector of higher education.
About Wofford College
Wofford College, established in 1854, is a four-year, residential liberal arts college located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It offers 27 major fields of study to a student body of 1,775 undergraduates. Nationally known for the strength of its academic program, outstanding faculty, study abroad participation and successful graduates, Wofford is recognized consistently as a “best value” and for its commitment to student success and accessibility for low- and middle-income students. The college community has 12 sororities and fraternities as well as 19 NCAA Division I athletics teams.