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Michigan Private Colleges Rank High in Social Mobility

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Study after study has shown that college not only transforms minds, but it lives as well as wallets.

College graduates make 25 percent more per week than the national average, and unemployment rates are significantly lower the more education is attained, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In short, college is “a ticket to the middle class,” according to Bridge Magazine.

But getting admitted to one and finishing are two different things, and it’s no secret that some colleges do far better jobs of helping low-income students graduate and get jobs.

The online magazine analyzed federal data to rank colleges on how they promote social mobility — offering tuition breaks, mentors and other aid for low-income students, as well as how long it took them to narrow the income gap with rich students after graduation.

The results? Michigan’s small, private colleges ranked the near the top.

Adrian College was the top-ranked private college in the state, enrolling the seventh-highest percentage of low-income students and graduating nearly 60 percent of them.

Madonna University was not far behind, offering low tuition for low-income students (less than $9,000) and helping them make similar salaries with high-income students 10 years after enrollment.

Olivet College and Spring Arbor University were near the tops in enrolling poor students, while Alma College, Hope College and Calvin College ranked in the top six in graduation rates.

Kalamazoo College, inexplicably, was left out of Bridge’s analysis altogether. But using its metrics, would have scored in the top 10 for graduation rates and average earnings.

The rankings reflect a deep commitment by Michigan’s top 15 private colleges and universities to improving the lives of all students and offering a path to improve lives.

Contrary to popular belief, tuition is on par with many public universities. That’s because students receive far more financial aid. At most of our schools, more than 93 percent receive aid, bringing the cost of a world-class education within reach.

Students at Michigan’s independents typically graduate in four years, rather than five or six at public schools. That means they are earning a salary while their peers at big state universities are wracking up more student debt.

That also means they have a two-year head start on their careers, which is yet another way Michigan independents help students forge their own path.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.