Portland, Or., April 5, 2017
CollegeNET, Inc., a leading provider of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education and the creator of the Social Mobility Index (SMI), a data-driven system that ranks 4-year U.S. colleges and universities according to how effectively they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them into promising careers, today announced that North Carolina A&T State University has been selected as the seventh of 10 Social Mobility Innovators for 2017.
The goal of the SMI -- now in its third year -- is to help redirect the attribution of "prestige" in our higher education system toward colleges and universities that are advancing economic opportunity, the most pressing issue of our time.
The largest public HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in the U.S., N.C. A&T produces the most African American psychology undergraduates in the nation as well as the most African American engineers at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels. Through its College of Business and Economics, the school is also among the largest producers of African American certified public accountants. N.C. A&T has ranked among the top 20 schools on CollegeNET's Social Mobility Index (SMI) for three consecutive years (2014-2016), moving up from #13 on the list in 2014 to #2 in 2016.
"Most higher education rankings approach the problem of comparing colleges and universities as steering consumers toward a brand or purchase," says Jim Wolfston, CEO of CollegeNET. "The SMI, on the other hand, helps policymakers, students and their families see which colleges and universities are addressing the national problem of economic mobility. Administrators in higher education will be more effective in strengthening U.S. economic mobility and restoring the promise of the American Dream if they can identify and learn from colleges and universities like N.C. A&T that are already skilled at doing this."
Moving Students Forward to Graduation
N.C. A&T was selected as a CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovator for 2017 because it has adopted a number of significant policies and programs designed to reduce time-to-degree and keep students moving forward to graduation. Students at the school are now allowed to repeat no more than 16 credit hours during their undergraduate careers, for example. At the same time, N.C. A&T has reduced the number of credit hours required for graduation in some programs from 127-133 to 120-122. And, inspired by the regular academic monitoring that NCAA athletes must undergo to retain their collegiate eligibility, more than half of N.C. A&T's faculty also participate in an early-alert initiative that helps identify students who may be stumbling in their course-work.
"We have a top-to-bottom passion when it comes to student success," says Dr. Regina Williams Davis, Assistant Provost for Student Success and Academic Support at N.C. A&T. "Our chancellor, Dr. Harold L. Martin, Sr., has driven this conversation, and it's much more than talk for us. It's a real priority on our campus. When we accept students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, it's our responsibility to help them navigate through to graduation."
N.C. A&T has embraced data to help shape and drive its strategic decisions in the area of student success. The school focuses on annual persistence data, for instance, which shows how many students in each major are on track to graduate. Analyzing this information, N.C. A&T can see the number of sophomore engineering students who have earned at least 30 credit hours toward graduation as freshmen, or the number of accounting majors who are returning to school as seniors with 90 credit hours earned, and so forth.
"We're getting stronger and stronger in data," explains Davis. "It helps us understand our students much better, and it guides us in helping them achieve success, too."
Reversing Higher Education's Harmful "Tri-Imperfecta"
"N.C. A&T is providing real educational opportunity to promising students regardless of their economic background," adds CollegeNET's Wolfston. "Its civic contribution is key given that economic mobility and the American Dream are rapidly deteriorating. Indeed, higher education is now caught in a damaging 'tri-imperfecta.' Tuitions are increasing, economic inclusion is declining on campuses and Pell Grants -- intended for disadvantaged students with financial need -- are being awarded more generously to richer families. N.C. A&T's focus and innovation provide an example of how we can reverse these trends."
See the complete SMI rankings.
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, web-based tuition processing, instructor and course evaluation, and web-based career services for students. Additionally, the company operates CollegeNET.com, a 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.