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First Forward

First-Generation Student Success

Pine Manor College was recognized for its intentional, institution-wide efforts supporting a unique and growing segment of college students, first-generation students. The Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, recently announced their inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions, naming Pine Manor College among the first institutions to receive this recognition. 

The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. 

Pine Manor College defines first-generation college students as those students whose parents or guardians have not earned a baccalaureate degree. With over 85% of Pine Manor College’s students identifying as first-generation college students, supporting them is central to every facet of the College’s operations, structure, and programming. The College’s commitment to addressing the needs of first-generation college students is reflected in the College’s mission and is echoed in all of the College’s activities and departments from Admissions to Academic offerings, and from Student Life programming to support services.

 Some of the programs unique to Pine Manor College that make the College more inclusive include: 

  • The College collaborates closely with college access and support programs, and has made financial aid awards letters clear and transparent. 
  • The College implemented changes to the application process and does not require standardized testing, including SAT and ACT. 
  • Financial aid counseling is available in both English and Spanish. 
  • Student Affairs and Academic Affairs partnered to launch the Initiative for Student Success that assigns all matriculated students, from their first year on campus through graduation, a Student Success Coach and an Academic Advisor. 
  • Academic Affairs offers free, unlimited professional-tutoring; small classes; and hosts workshops and pop-up programming on writing, grammar, study skills, and living skills to meet students where they are in their college learning. 
  • Student Affairs offers free, year-round counseling (we do not triage our students to off-campus therapists), has housing options year-round for students, and developed community standards based on restorative practices. 
  • The College has focused professional development and training efforts, community standards, and student support on racial and social equity, trauma-informed practices, and restorative justice. 

“The Center is so pleased to welcome Pine Manor College into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that Pine Manor College is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but has made a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, Senior Director of the Center for First-Generation Student Success. Staci Weber, Ph.D., Dean of Student Affairs, a leading advocate for first-generation programming and support enthusiastically accepted the recognition from First Forward, “With over 84% first-generation college students on campus, we celebrate our students regularly. It is both wonderful and humbling for our small college to be acknowledged for the difference we are making in the lives of our students.”

As a First Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Staci Weber and Lisa Rodrigues ‘96, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, attended the First Forward Workshop and First-Generation Conference in Orlando in June and continue to participate in monthly phone 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.

“First Forward is an exciting opportunity for Pine Manor College to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First Forward cohort and know Pine Manor College will be a significant contributor,” offered Dr. Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA.

NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories. Visit for more information.

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. Through four strategic priority areas, the Center drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success.

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Pine Manor College Receives First Forward Designation; National Honor for Commitment to First-Generation Student Success

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