CollegeNET, Inc. Names N.C. A&T Social Mobility Innovator for 2017

04/05/2017 Students

Greensboro, N.C. (April 5, 2017) - North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has ranked nationally among the top 10 Social Mobility Innovators for 2017, by CollegeNET, Inc.

A leading provider of web-based, on-demand technologies for higher education, CollegeNet, is the creator of the Social Mobility Index (SMI), a data-driven system that ranks 4-year U.S. colleges and universities according to how effectively they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them to promising careers.

Now in its third year, the goal of the SMI is to help redirect the attribution of “prestige” within higher education toward colleges and universities that are advancing economic opportunity.

“Most higher education rankings approach the problem of comparing colleges and universities as steering consumers toward a brand or purchase,” says Jim Wolfston, CEO of CollegeNET. “The SMI, on the other hand, helps policymakers, students and their families see which colleges and universities are addressing the national problem of economic mobility. Administrators in higher education will be more effective in strengthening U.S. economic mobility and restoring the promise of the American Dream if they can identify and learn from colleges and universities like N.C. A&T that are already skilled at doing this.”

A&T was selected as the seventh among 10 institutions of higher education named as Social Mobility Innovators, because it has adopted significant policies and programs designed to reduce time-to-degree that keep students moving forward to graduation. Students at the school are now allowed to repeat no more than 16 credit hours during their undergraduate careers, for example. At the same time, A&T has reduced the number of credit hours required for graduation in some programs from 127-133 to 120-122. And, inspired by the regular academic monitoring that NCAA athletes must undergo to retain their collegiate eligibility, more than half of university faculty also participate in an early-alert initiative that helps identify students who may be stumbling in their course-work.

“We have a top-to-bottom passion when it comes to student success,” says Dr. Regina Williams Davis, assistant provost for Student Success and Academic Support at A&T. “Our chancellor, Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr., has driven this conversation, and it’s much more than talk for us. It’s a real priority on our campus. When we accept students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, it’s our responsibility to help them navigate through to graduation.”

The university has embraced data to help shape and drive its strategic decisions in student success. The school focuses on annual persistence data, for instance, which shows how many students in each major are on track to graduate. Analyzing this information, A&T can see the number of sophomore engineering students who have earned at least 30 credit hours toward graduation as freshmen, or the number of accounting majors who are returning to school as seniors with 90 credit hours earned, and so forth

“We’re getting stronger and stronger in data,” explains Davis. “It helps us understand our students much better, and it guides us in helping them achieve success, too.”

A&T is the largest public Historically Black College or University in the nation. The university produces the most African American psychology undergraduates in the nation as well as the most African American engineers at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels.

Through its College of Business and Economics, A&T is also among the largest producers of African American certified public accountants. A&T has ranked among the top 20 schools on CollegeNET’s SMI for three consecutive years (2014-2016), moving up from No. 13 on the list in 2014 to No. 2 in 2016.