The top 18 colleges for social mobility, according to US News

The 2019 edition of U.S. News & World Report rankings featured two new social mobility metrics. And to address questions about how the publication's new methodology affected colleges' scores, U.S. News released more details about the updates and an additional ranking of the top colleges for social mobility.

For years, U.S. News has faced criticism for relying on what one competitor calls "easily manipulated measures of money and prestige." So the publication made a series of changes to their methodology that seem intended to respond to such criticism.

To put more emphasis on outcomes, U.S. News bumped outcome measures from 30% of a school's total score to 35% and added two new metrics of social mobility: the graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients and the graduation rate gap between those students and their peers. Both of these new metrics take into account each school's overall percentage of students who receive Pell Grants.

The publication also eliminated acceptance rate from its metrics, dropped the weight of expert opinions from 22.5% to 20%, and dropped the weight of "student excellence" (including SAT/ACT scores) from 12.5% to 10%.

To create the ranking of top colleges and universities for social mobility, U.S. News combined the standardized values of the two new social mobility metrics.

Here is a selection of the top-performing schools for social mobility:

*Editor's note: EAB congratulates all member institutions for their placement on the lists. Member institutions listed below have been marked with an *asterisk.

National Universities - Top 9

1. University of California-Santa Cruz*
2. Howard University*
3. University of California-Riverside*
4. University of California-Irvine*
5. University of La Verne*
6. Florida International University*
7. Edgewood College (tie)
7. Rutgers University-Newark* (tie)
9. University of California-Davis*

National Liberal Arts Colleges - Top 9

1. Agnes Scott College*
2. Soka University of America
3. Cornell College
4. Morehouse College
5. Maryville College (tie)
5. Schreiner University (tie)
5. Spelman College* (tie)
8. Ripon College (tie)
8. The King's College (tie)

After eliminating all metrics except those measuring social mobility, it's no surprise that the lists above look very different from U.S. News' overall rankings. For instance, the University of California-Santa Cruz, the top performing national university for social mobility, tied for 70th place on the publication's overall ranking. Similarly, Agnes Scott College, the top performing liberal arts college for social mobility, tied for 51st place on the overall ranking.   

Writing for U.S. News, Eric Brooks explains a few ways the new methodology affected colleges' scores on this year's overall rankings. The top three national universities for social mobility—UC Santa Cruz, Howard University, and University of California-Riverside—moved up 11, 21, and 39 places in the overall ranking, respectively. And the top three liberal arts colleges for social mobility—Agnes Scott, Soka University of America, and Cornell College—moved up 10, 17, and six places in the overall ranking, respectively (Brooks, U.S. News & World Report, 10/1).


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