• With an Undergraduate Enrollment of Approximately 24,500, UC Irvine Offers Low-Income Students a Unique, Personalized and Scalable Support System That Makes College Affordable, Advances Economic Opportunity and Helps Restore the Promise of the American Dream
  • Leading Public Research University Ranks Among the Top 20 Schools on CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) for Two Consecutive Years (2015-2016)

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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 US colleges and universities according to how effectively they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them into promising careers, today announced that the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) has been selected as the fourth 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.

A leading public research university with approximately 24,500 undergraduate students, UC Irvine has been ranked among the top 20 schools on CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) for two consecutive years (2015-2016).

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 US economic mobility and restoring the promise of the American Dream if they can identify and learn from colleges and universities like UC Irvine that are already skilled at doing this.”

An Innovative and Blended Student Support Solution

UC Irvine was selected as a CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovator for 2017 because it offers low-income students a unique, personalized and scalable support system that provides help the moment they step on campus.

“Our numbers are large,” says Dr. Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education at UC Irvine. “We have about 24,500 undergraduates. Half of them come from low-income families and more than half of them are first-generation college students. We also have 13 different academic schools. So how do you develop a model that provides effective individual student support while, at the same time, scaling across campus?”

UC Irvine has addressed this problem by creating and implementing an innovative hybrid student support system.

It’s an intermediate, mid-ground solution that makes sense for a large public university,” says Dennin. “We blend centralized support across the entire campus with a wide range of decentralized support at the department and school levels. This balance works well, and it serves the needs of students who seek and require help.”

UC Irvine centralizes support programs for the 20 percent of its freshmen who have yet to declare a major, for example. “Many of these students represent the first generation in their family to attend college,” explains Dennin, “so they might not fully understand all the choices when it comes to majors and career paths. It’s generally a large group and we help advise them and provide direction so they stay engaged.”

At the same time, UC Irvine delegates student support to its academic schools and departments so that advising programs can be more customized and personalized. “We have an advisory office in each school, and the schools also develop small cohort groups for students based on major or concentration,” says Dennin. “Threading students’ specific academic interests together like this helps build connections for study groups, which leads to greater academic success. And, over time, we’ve found that this decentralized approach can be replicated and scaled across our campus.”

UC Irvine’s blended student support system has yielded significant results. The school’s one-year retention rate is 93 percent and its four-year graduation rate is 70 percent.

Reversing Higher Education’s Harmful “Tri-Imperfecta”

It’s inspiring that UC Irvine is providing real educational opportunity to promising students regardless of their economic background,” says CollegeNET’s Wolfston. “UC Irvine’s 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. UC Irvine’s innovation provides a strong example for 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.


CollegeNET, Inc.
Jill Thacker
UC Irvine
Tom Vasich

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