Milton Hershey School, Penn State Partner to Increase Graduation Rates for First-Generation College Students

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It is the seventh partnership MHS has established with postsecondary institutions

“MHS graduates will receive individualized attention and combined support from Milton Hershey School and Penn State,” MHS Vice President of Graduate Programs for Success Tanya Barton said.

Milton Hershey School and The Pennsylvania State University have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at improving the national college graduation rates for low-income, first-generation college students.

The partnership, which includes the Penn State Abington, Berks, Brandywine, Harrisburg, and University Park campuses, will provide more focused and sustained support to Milton Hershey School’s many first-generation college students.

“As we work to improve graduation outcomes and help students from low-income backgrounds persist through college, MHS graduates will receive individualized attention and combined support from Milton Hershey School and Penn State,” MHS Vice President of Graduate Programs for Success Tanya Barton said.

“This important initiative expands the relationship between Penn State and the Milton Hershey School,” added Robert Pangborn, Penn State’s vice president and dean for undergraduate education, “Our participating Penn State campuses -- Abington, Berks, Brandywine, Harrisburg and University Park -- are committed to this partnership and look forward to working with the Milton Hershey School to support the success of its students.”

According to The Pell Institute, only 10.9 percent of low-income, first-generation students receive a college degree within six years of enrolling in a post-secondary school. Through the agreement, MHS students will receive real-time support to ensure student success throughout their college careers.

MHS career and higher education specialists support graduates through virtual check-ins and on-campus visits. In 2017, MHS staff organized 123 on-campus visits and sent 13,856 text messages to support graduates throughout their college experience. In addition, Penn State will offer individualized academic coaching, student engagement resources, retention support and residence life guidance.

It is the seventh partnership Milton Hershey School has established with both public and private postsecondary institutions in Pennsylvania as part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen its graduates’ postsecondary success. MHS has signed formalized agreements with Mansfield University, Shippensburg University, East Stroudsburg University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Millersville University and Dickinson College.

“Our partnerships with postsecondary institutions in Pennsylvania make a clear difference in our graduates’ college experience,” Barton said. “By establishing a formalized relationship with Penn State University, we are ensuring even more of our graduates have the support and resources they need to earn their college degrees.”

The formal partnership supports the School’s commitment to student success following graduation. Milton Hershey School’s Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division provides students and alumni with a multi-tiered system of support that addresses their individual needs while fostering independence. Through the GPS Division, dedicated career counselors, teachers, and transition specialists support students and alumni of all ages beginning in middle school and continuing to their time in college, technical programs, the workforce, or the military.

More information can be found at

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Milton Hershey School® is one of the world’s best private schools, offering a top-notch education and positive home life to children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from families of lower income at no charge.

Founded in 1855, Penn State is a world-class public research university with a broad mission of teaching, research and public service. Ranked as one of the world’s top universities, Penn State serves more than 98,000 students, awards more associate, bachelor's and graduate degrees than any other institution in the Commonwealth, and has a research enterprise in excess of $800 million. Through its 24 campuses, which include a medical college, two law schools, an online World Campus and a school of graduate professional studies, Penn State also generates more than $17 billion in economic impact. For more information, visit

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