Cal Poly Pomona ranks among the top universities in the nation for helping students climb the economic ladder, according to a study by The Equality Opportunity Project.
The university ranks No. 9 for helping students rise from the bottom fifth to the top fifth in income earnings for schools with an entering class of more than 300. Cal Poly Pomona also comes in at No. 12 for the chance a poor student has to become wealthy.
“At Cal Poly Pomona, we are committed to making the seemingly impossible, possible. The success of our students reflects the great work of our faculty, staff, and administrators across all disciplines and divisions. They are the true difference-makers,” says University President Soraya M. Coley. “This study further underscores the vital role that the CSU plays in advancing students’ opportunities and driving the state’s economy.”
New York Times columnist David Leonhardt wrote about Cal Poly Pomona’s rankings and The Equality Opportunity Project study in an opinion piece titled “America’s Great Working-Class Colleges.”
While some public colleges and universities have struggled in recent years with strained budgets and high dropout rates and don’t receive the acclaim of the more elite institutions, many are providing an accessible, quality education, Leonhardt writes.
“Yes, the universities that educate students from modest backgrounds face big challenges, particularly state budget cuts,” he writes. “They remain deeply impressive institutions that continue to push many Americans into the middle class and beyond — many more, in fact, than elite colleges that receive far more attention.”
The Equality of Opportunity Project used anonymous data on 30 million college students to compile the mobility report cards, according to the website. The information included publicly available statistics on students’ earnings and their parents’ incomes for each college in the nation.
Michael Woo, dean of the College of Environmental Design, says that the real world experience of Cal Poly Pomona’s faculty members helps provide ambitious students with the guidance they need to get connected with prospective employers and alumni.
“Cal Poly Pomona succeeds as a gateway to the middle class for two reasons. First of all, we are accessible and affordable to the huge population of immigrants and low-income families in the biggest metropolitan region in the state,” Woo says. “Second, Cal Poly Pomona emphasizes a ‘learn by doing’ philosophy, collaborating with local employers to produce graduates who have the best mix of practical skills to accelerate their careers.”
Cordelia Ontiveros, interim dean of the College of Engineering, says that the university has a culture that sets up graduates for success once they leave campus.
“The college works hard to create an inclusive community that values respect for all. Students receive advising and other support to help and encourage them to succeed.” she says. “Students are also involved in group projects from Day One and we have exceptionally dedicated faculty and staff who are focused on student success.”
Su Yeon Kim, a senior studying biology with an emphasis in zoology, says that she is excited that Cal Poly Pomona received this distinction and attributes the upward mobility of its graduates to all of the support efforts on campus that offer everything from research opportunities to mentoring to internships.
“Those resources help students making their way through college,” she says. “We have a small, tight-knit community that helps students succeed, not in just networking but just in making their way here on campus.”
Senior Communications Specialist Cindy Peters contributed to this report.