Outside of family, education is the greatest determinant of social mobility. And for first-generation and low-income students, family is at the heart of what motivates their success in education. At UC Irvine we strive to build an Anteater family that scaffolds student success long after they graduate. That’s why UCI has set an example for the nation by ranking in the CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) Top 20 for the third year in a row.

CollegeNET’s 2017 SMI is based on data-driven analysis. They rank colleges 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 “prestige” in our higher education system toward colleges that are solving the major problems of our time.

“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 of strengthening U.S. economic mobility and the promise of the American Dream if they can identify and learn from colleges that are skilled at doing this. That’s why we are not surprised to see UCI do so well in helping students achieve the American Dream.

Adds Dr. Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL) 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.”

In fact, public universities in California continue to dominate the rankings, placing 13 schools in the Top 20. That’s why UCI is proud to have ranked as the highest college in the UC system. And it was our policy of inclusion — no matter the income level, race, sexuality or gender — that put us over the top!

The collaborative modernizations that the UC system has implemented make all the difference for our students and the SMI. These changes have involved improved pedagogy, technology, and support for staff and faculty — issues that are the core of OVPTL’s mission. SMI identifies universities that provide low-income students with the educational opportunity, and OVPTL plays a vital role in scaffolding those opportunities.

OVPTL is proud to announce that UCI upholds its promise to be “First in Class” — first in class inclusion, first in nation for the American Dream. So why should you be excited? Because “Economic Inclusion Helps Spark Innovative Minds!”

“Higher education is the most important rung on the ladder of economic mobility,” says Jim Wolfston. “But even more important, when higher education offers students the chance to encounter a challenging mix of diverse ideas it serves as a powerful vehicle for preparing students to 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.”

Learn more about the top 20 universities that made the SMI here.

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