Rankings Highlight Social Mobility, Service to First-Generation Students
Georgian Court University is a “Best Bang for the Buck,” according to Washington Monthly magazine, which recently placed GCU in the top 50 Northeast schools on its list, and in the top 15 percent of the 385 regional colleges and universities ranked in America’s Best Bang for the Buck Colleges. The report, published in the magazine’s September/October edition, focuses on institutions that improve social mobility among students.
“Georgian Court University does many things well, including making a college degree accessible and affordable for all students,” said GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., who also noted that this year’s entering class continued to push GCU’s average freshman SAT score past 1,000 points—an overall increase up more than 100 points since 2013. That means the university is becoming more academically competitive but is not sacrificing its commitment to students from more modest backgrounds.
“Faculty, staff, alumni mentors, donors, and everyone on our campus want to make sure GCU students earn their college degree. We understand the return on investment includes better career prospects, higher earnings, and a shot at moving into our nation’s middle class and upper-middle class,” said Dr. Marbach.
“Students and their parents want to know that there is significant value associated with a quality education—now and into the future.”
Making the Rankings Useful
“Here at the Washington Monthly, we’re thrilled to see more national attention on the topic of social mobility,” wrote the report’s data manager Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.
“Since 2012, we’ve ranked America’s four-year colleges and universities based on their ‘bang for the buck’, that is, the extent to which they charge students who aren’t rich a reasonable price for a quality education that will advance them in their careers.” Dr. Kelchen is also an assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy at Seton Hall University.
The prospect of upward mobility and finishing a college degree is especially important to those who arrive on campus from lower-income families.
At GCU, 51 percent of the 397 undergraduates earning degrees this year qualified for federal Pell Grants, the financial aid program available to those typically in the bottom 40 percent of family incomes. In addition, 48 percent of the graduates were first-generation college students.
“There are many college rankings and lists that try to organize data in a way that is useful, but sometimes, the information presented just doesn’t resonate,” said the university’s chief academic officer, William J. Behre, Ph.D.
“Students who are first-generation and financially needy often need specific supports to assure that they will graduate from college,” said Dr. Behre. “Washington Monthly‘s ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ takes into account such factors, which are often prevalent at mission-driven institutions like Georgian Court.”
Solid Salaries—Another ‘Bang for the Buck’
In addition to outperforming expectations for six-year graduation rates, GCU also fared better than expected for alumni earnings 10 years after graduation.
On average, Georgian Court alumni were making about 13.75% more income than predicted. Editors considered a range of variables, including college missions and location, the mix of degrees offered, and regional living costs. More information about the metrics and methodology used in the ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ rankings can be found here.