Blackburn Earns Top-Ten Ranking for Graduating Economically Disadvantaged Students in Latest U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” Guide

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U.S. News & World Report Ranks Blackburn College Top Ten Performer on Social Mobility, Best Colleges Regional Midwest (infographic)
By Office of Marketing & Public Relations
On September 19, 2023
Blackburn also Ranked First in Illinois for Pell Grant Student Performance by Washington Monthly

U.S. News & World Report has once again recognized Blackburn College in its annual rankings of the best colleges and universities in the country. Considered one of the most comprehensive research publications for students and parents considering opportunities in higher education, U.S. News evaluates more than 1,500 institutions based on 19 measures of academic quality, including educational outcomes and student excellence. In the publication’s 2024 “Best Colleges” guide, Blackburn ranked tenth among colleges that successfully advance social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of low-income and underrepresented students. The “Best Colleges” list also placed Blackburn in the top tier of Midwestern colleges with an overall rank of 35.

Since its founding in 1837, Blackburn has made college education affordable to thousands of first-generation students and working-class families. One of ten federally-recognized Work Colleges and the only program in the nation managed by students, Blackburn offers work opportunities to all students to help develop critical leadership, problem-solving, and management skills while earning a four-year degree. Blackburn students help plan, manage, and run the facilities in 12 student work departments and work alongside Blackburn faculty, staff, and their peers. Blackburn offers a “four-year head start,” which means real-world work experience that pays off with resumes attractive to employers across all fields. Students also earn a $5,000 tuition credit each year they participate in the Work Program, which helps keep the cost of a private liberal arts education within reach.

“We take immense pride in our standing among the top institutions in the Midwest,” said Blackburn College President Gregory J. Meyer. “Blackburn has a remarkable capacity to advance social mobility, given the College’s longstanding commitment to ensuring low-income and underrepresented communities have access to a transformative education. This ranking reflects our students’ determination and resilience in the face of challenges, and we are honored to support them on their journey toward success.”

Social mobility is part of U.S. News’ outcomes measures to assess how well schools graduated low-income and underrepresented students.”Economically disadvantaged students are less likely than others to finish college, even when controlling for other characteristics,” the guide reads. “But some colleges are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants.” These federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes fall under $50,000, with the majority going to households earning less than $20,000 annually. Blackburn College has been ranked as a top performer each year since U.S. News & World Report first introduced its social mobility recognition in 2019.

In addition to the U.S. News “Best Colleges” guide, Blackburn also received recognition from Washington Monthly’s 2023 “College Guide and Rankings” for the performance of economically disadvantaged students. The publication evaluates liberal arts colleges – four-year institutions that award almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees and that focus on arts and sciences rather than professional programs—based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service. Among nearly 250 bachelor’s colleges, Blackburn was ranked first in Illinois and 44 nationally for performance by students receiving Pell Grants.