Report: Non-Elite Universities Give Grads Upwards Mobility

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 03: A graduating student's cap declares their future intentions during commencement exercises at City College where First lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement speech after being presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters at City College on June 3, 2016 in New York City. …
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A new report suggests that non-elite universities around the country are giving students a chance at high-paying career.

According to research by the American Enterprise Institute, 400 Americans non-elite universities around the country are providing students with an affordable path to a high-paying career. These “comprehensive” universities educate over 70 percent of all American undergraduates at four-year public institutions. And the combination of low-cost-of-attendance and strong job placement after graduation is drawing students away from expensive elite schools.

The study made several conclusions, including that a student’s likelihood of upwards mobility is directly tied to a student’s chosen major. Students who chose business and engineering majors were far more likely to end up at a lucrative job than were students who opted for creative areas of study like art and music.

My analysis of field of study, supported by data from multiple sources, also links the major chosen to upward mobility. While I do not document the impact of different majors on earnings, ample data exist showing that schools that graduate more students in high-paying fields, such as business, will likely have higher mobility rates.

The study also concluded that an institution’s graduation rate is a strong indicator its graduates upwards mobility.

Data from multiple sources show that graduating is one of the most important contributing factors to high earnings. Indeed, both measures of graduation rates in Table 27, a school’s Pell graduation rate and its overall graduation rate, have a statistically significant positive relationship with mobility rates.

The study highlighted schools such as Georgia Southwestern State University, Francis Marion University, and Morehead State University as examples of “comprehensive” universities that provide these benefits to their students.

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