2017 Social Mobility Index (SMI) Identifies Universities That are Consistently Providing Low-Income Students With Educational Opportunity

Portland, Or., October 24, 2017

CollegeNET, Inc., a leading provider of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education, today released the 2017 Social Mobility Index (SMI), a data-driven analysis that ranks 4-year US colleges and universities according to how effectively they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them into good-paying jobs.

The goal of the SMI is to help redirect the attribution of "prestige" in our higher education system toward colleges that are solving the major problems of our time. Today, no social, political, or economic problem is more pressing than advancing economic opportunity more broadly for our citizens. The 2017 SMI marks its fourth year and expands its benchmarking from 918 to 1,363 schools.

“Unlike other college rankings that are aimed primarily at helping students select a college,” says Jim Wolfston, CEO of CollegeNET, “the SMI helps policymakers determine which colleges are addressing the national problem of economic mobility.

Administrators have a better chance to help strengthen US economic mobility and the promise of the American Dream if they can identify and learn from colleges that are skilled at doing this.”

CollegeNET has recognized the innovative practices of five high performing universities from across the nation by presenting them with Social Mobility Innovator 2017 Awards. These awards were presented during the company’s first Social Mobility Summit, held this past July in Portland, Oregon. The honored institutions were: Rowan University in New Jersey; Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina; the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; the University of California, Irvine; and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Economic Inclusion Helps Spark Innovative Minds

"Higher education is the most important rung on the ladder of economic mobility,” says Wolfston. “But even more important, when higher education offers students the chance to encounter a challenging mix of diverse ideas and learn from others from different backgrounds, it serves as a powerful vehicle for preparing students to encounter, navigate, and appreciate the unfamiliar. It is these collisions with the unfamiliar that best sharpen and prepare innovative minds. Thus, economic inclusion is not only a solution to a social justice issue, it is an optimizing strategy for training tomorrow’s innovators.”

Mitchel B. Wallerstein, PhD, President of Baruch College, which has topped the SMI rankings for three consecutive years, adds that to be engines of social mobility, colleges must offer more than just excellent academics at an affordable price.

“Institutions of higher education need to consider the whole student and offer personalized training in soft skills, workplace dynamics, internship and job hunting, follow-up protocols, and professional correspondence,” Dr. Wallerstein explains. “Baruch has had such career services and mentorship opportunities in place for decades and they truly do help propel students into their first jobs and beyond.”

Sustaining Social Mobility Efforts on Campuses From Coast to Coast

Colleges that emphasize and develop academic support programs to help low-income students obtain college degrees and good-paying jobs drive consistent performance in the SMI. In addition to Baruch’s consistent #1 ranking in the SMI, public universities in California -- both the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems -- dominate the SMI rankings for the fourth straight year. UC and CSU schools account for 13 of the top 20 spots on the 2017 SMI list. Twenty five UC and CSU schools also rank among the top 5 percent of all universities today when it comes to advancing social mobility in higher education. Five schools -- Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina; CSU Fresno; CSU Stanislaus; CSU Long Beach; and California State Polytechnic University-Pomona -- have ranked in the top 20 on the SMI for the past four years.

“I am thrilled that Winston-Salem State University is once again recognized as a leader in social mobility,” says Dr. Elwood L. Robinson, Chancellor at Winston-Salem State. “Through a culture of engagement, innovative programs and community partnerships, we are helping to make the American dream a reality for under-resourced students. Our efforts are transforming, not only the lives of our students and their families, but also their communities, our state and our nation.”

Adds Dr. Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education at the University of California, Irvine: "UCI remains committed to the success and social mobility of all its students, and this is reflected in the amazing achievements of our first-generation and low-income students. We are very proud that this is consistently recognized in national rankings that highlight excellence in promoting social mobility of students."

The Top 20 SMI Schools — 2017 Rankings

An in-depth website devoted to the SMI rankings and methodology can be found at http://socialmobilityindex.org

About CollegeNET, Inc.

CollegeNET, Inc. builds on-demand SaaS technologies that help institutions improve operational efficiency, enhance communication with constituents, and save money. The company’s systems are used by 1,300 institutions worldwide for event and academic scheduling, recruitment and admissions management, instructor and course evaluation, and web-based career services for students. The company operates the CollegeNET.com social network through which students create topics, write about them, and vote to determine who will win scholarships. CollegeNET.com has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to date. The company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Media Contact:
Jill Thacker
jill@collegenet.com
503.973.5255

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