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Chico State

CSU, Chico Named One of Nation’s Best for Upward Mobility Following Graduation

Students mingle in the beautiful sunshine of the Chico State campus on the first day of classes in fall 2018.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Students return to campus for the first day of classes of the Fall semester on Monday, August 27, 2018 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU Chico)

Colleges and universities have the obligation to prepare students for life after graduation, so they can thrive in their chosen field and experience upward mobility.

California State University, Chico was recently recognized as being one of the country’s top institutions for doing just that.

In its 2018 Social Mobility Index (SMI), CollegeNET ranked CSU, Chico No. 2 in its listing of national higher education institutions that provided its students with the best opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

“The SMI helps families and policymakers determine which colleges are addressing the national problem of economic mobility,” said Jim Wolfston, CEO of CollegeNET. “Administrators have a better chance to help strengthen U.S. economic mobility and the promise of the ‘American Dream’ if they can identify and learn from colleges that are skilled at doing this.”

Using data from PayScale, CollegeNET developed a scale to measure the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students at lower tuition, also noting factors such as tuition, students’ economic background, graduation rates, and median early career salary after graduation.

Within the top 20 colleges and universities on the 2018 SMI, CSU, Chico is tied for the third-highest graduation rate (68.5 percent) and boasts the fourth-highest median early career salary ($53,600).

“Chico State is truly focused on student success. Our goal is to ensure students are not only prepared to enter the workforce but that they thrive there,” said Kim Guanzon, interim director of the Office of Admissions. “Our top-tier faculty provide unique hands-on opportunities with leading-edge equipment and research facilities that our students learn from and engage with.”

The demographic of Chico State has changed more than any other CSU in the last five years. More than half of our students identify as first-generation, meaning they will be the first generation in their family to earn a four-year degree. Additionally, the cost of CSU undergraduate tuition continues to be among the lowest in the nation.

“The opportunities we provide our students—giving them access to higher education at an affordable price—helps support them in their pursuit of a career that can not only change their lives but that of their families and generations to come,” Guanzon said.

CSU institutions dominated the 2018 SMI’s top 10, including Cal Poly Pomona (No. 3); Fresno State (No. 4); San José State (No. 5); CSU, Long Beach (No. 6); and Cal State East Bay (No. 9). Other CSUs in the top 20 are San Francisco State (No. 12); CSU, Northridge (No. 13), Cal State LA (No. 14), CSU, San Bernardino (No. 17), and Stanislaus State (No. 19).

The CSU educates the most ethnically, economically and academically diverse student body in the nation and the university’s Graduation Initiative 2025 is helping to close equity gaps between underserved students and their peers. Recently announced figures show progress toward that goal:

  • The graduation rate gap between underrepresented students of color and their peers narrowed two percentage points from 12.2 percent in 2017 to 10.5 percent in 2018, a 14 percent decrease.
  • The graduation rate gap between Pell-eligible students and their peers narrowed one percentage point from 10.6 percent in 2017 to 9.5 percent in 2018, a 10 percent decrease.

Campuses throughout the CSU are frequently recognized as vehicles of social mobility, and CSU, Chico, in particular, is consistently rated highly in a number of national rankings, including for academic excellence, value, and sustainability.