BY JAMES FARRELL
A pair of colleges in Queens was ranked in the top 1 percent of schools nationwide in terms of social mobility, according to a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project. One of those colleges, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Flushing, was ranked number one out of 2,201 schools, if colleges with less than 300 students per class are included in the list.
CUNY York College, located along Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in Jamaica, was ranked at 25 in the study with a 6.8 percent mobility rate. Saint John’s University followed at 26 and boasted the same mobility rate.
The Equality of Opportunity Project is a think tank dedicated to using data to find policy solutions that can expand opportunity for Americans. Their latest study, “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility,” collected data to determine a college’s “mobility rate,” or the percentage of students who come from the bottom 20 percent of earners and reach the top 20 percent. The study found that Vaughn College had the highest mobility rate at 16.4 percent, though it is a significantly smaller school with only 208 students per class, according to the study. CUNY Queens College, which was listed as having over 1,000 students per class, was ranked number 20, with a mo-bility rate of 7.1 percent, putting it in the top 1 percent of all colleges surveyed.
According to the Equality of Opportunity Project’s paper, it is likely the specialized nature of Vaughn’s program, which prepares students for careers in aviation and engineering, that makes it effective at moving students up the social ladder.
“Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology has a very high mobility rate, probably because it trains students in a highly technical and well-compensated field,” the researchers wrote. “Choice of field is an important element of student outcomes, and the causal effect of attending Vaughn, relative to a liberal arts school, is probably positive.”
They added that the study suggests that differences in major account for “relatively little of the variation across schools in mobility rates overall.”
Vaughn reacted to the rankings on Jan. 19, after the work was published.
“This recognition is further evidence that our mission is succeeding and that Vaughn continues to be a college of choice for so many students who want to achieve future success,” said Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, in a statement. “This is a testament for our institution, and does not happen without so many working for years to achieve a truly transformational educational experience for our students.”
Over at Queens College, President Felix Matos Rodriguez expressed pride over the ranking.
“Albeit this study is but one indicator, it powerfully demonstrates that when it comes to economic mobility, Queens College—approaching its eightieth anniversary of serving the people of New York—is making a larger impact than virtually every other college in the country,” he said. “Queens College Students are active citizens, top-flight professionals, job creators and productive taxpayers.”
CUNY LaGuardia Community College was ranked at 40 with a rate of 6.1 percent, while Queensbor-ough Community College came in at 51 with a rate of 5.5 percent. All of those schools are in the top 3 percent of the list. They are also all in the bottom half of the list in terms of median parents’ house-hold income, ranging from $30,900 at Vaughn to $69,200 at St. John’s.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org