One of Cal State Long Beach’s greatest contributions to the public good has been its role in enhancing students’ social mobility. Last month, it was announced that CSULB ranked No. 7 nationally on the latest Social Mobility Index (SMI) — an annual report measuring the extent of a college’s or university’s impact in providing opportunities for low-income students to graduate into high-paying jobs. It is the fourth consecutive year the university has been rated in the top 10.
According to CollegeNET, which is responsible for the annual index, “The SMI measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students (with family incomes below the national median) at lower tuition and graduates them into good paying jobs. Competing around these factors, our higher education system can reverse the destabilizing trend towards growing economic immobility, advance the American Dream, and promote the public interest. The national economic problems today are different than they were in the 1980s. Let's solve them by focusing the chase for ‘prestige’ around lowering tuition, recruiting more economically disadvantaged students, and ensuring that enrolled students graduate into good paying jobs.”
So, why is this important? It has long been known that education not only changes and enhances the lives of students and graduates, but it also leads to positive transformations in the families and communities of graduates. For a campus population consisting of many first-generation students, immigrants and low income people, a CSULB education represents a way to move up; to realize to the aforementioned “American dream;" and to bring others along with them.
We often talk about The Beach educational experience being a transformative one — particularly when it comes to social mobility — but influencing it begins with students long before they reach college. A wonderful example of this is the Long Beach College Promise. Through the educational partnerships established with the Long Beach Unified School District and Long Beach City College, The Promise has been improving public education in the city. This isn’t just great news for CSULB — after all, this is our “pipeline” of future students — but it’s also great news for Long Beach. An educated population means that Long Beach has a prepared workforce that can innovate, solve, create and build. And that’s good for everyone.
Driving social mobility has become increasingly important in higher education and its supporters. Legislators, donors, businesses, industries and alumni count on universities to help improve the economy and the social well-being of residents in the region. Viewing the effectiveness of higher education through the lens of social mobility is a good measure because it not only gives you a good picture of what’s happening now, but it also provides a good indication of what’s to come.
In addition to its SMI ranking, we see numerous other rankings and honors that say a lot about CSULB changing lives for the better. According to Money.com, The Beach is the No. 12 “Most Transformative” university in the nation, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranks us as third in the United States for awarding bachelor's degrees to underrepresented minorities. We’re also ranked as the 10th best public university and the No. 13 “Best College for Your Money” in the nation. Underscoring all of this is the growing perception that a CSULB education carries with it significant value: The Beach is the No. 9 destination in the country for transfer students and it’s the eighth-most applied to university in the entire nation.
As president, I’m proud of so much at Cal State Long Beach: we have faculty who perform groundbreaking research and are teaching the next generation of leaders; and our students excel in numerous disciplines. For me, though, there is almost nothing as satisfying as when graduating students or alumni tell me how their CSULB education changed their lives for the better.
The American Dream IS alive and well at The Beach.