UCI is nation’s #1 college!

UC Irvine
4 min readAug 12, 2019

University is the first public school to top Money magazine’s annual rankings

Move over, Princeton.

UC Irvine has dethroned the Ivy League institution as the nation’s best college, according to Money magazine’s latest rankings.

UCI is #1 in the US

UCI’s ascension to №1 marks the first time a public university has topped Money’s annual list of best colleges, which is based on graduation rates, affordability and alumni salaries.

Money article

“We’re honored to be recognized as the finest university in the U.S.,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. “And it’s not a fluke.”

Listen to UCI Podcast: Why UCI is #1

Indeed, in recent years, UCI — which opened in 1965 — has reached or neared the pinnacle in a series of national surveys:

· Forbes magazine’s 2019 roundup of “America’s Best Value Colleges” rated UCI the №1 public university in the country, up from №4 last year. Even when private colleges were added to the mix, Forbes ranked UCI third overall, ahead of Harvard, UCLA, UC Berkeley and Stanford. Only Brigham Young University and Princeton placed above UCI.

· The Orange County campus was crowned №1 among U.S. universities “doing the most for the American dream” in The New York Times’ latest College Access Index, which evaluates top schools on their commitment to helping low- and middle-income students achieve economic success.

UCI & the American Dream

· U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 college survey ranked UCI the seventh-best public university in America, up two spots from a year earlier, based on 16 measures of academic excellence.

UCI officials said these and other accolades help demonstrate why the school now receives more in-state freshman enrollment applications than any other University of California campus. UCI is also the most popular choice for first-generation, low-income, Latino and Asian American students — and second only to UCLA in attracting African American applicants, according to UC data.

“Universities have an obligation to reach out to underserved communities and create a pipeline for them to attend,” Gillman said. “As we all know, a college degree is the best way for young adults to catapult themselves from a disadvantaged past to a better future. But that path has become increasingly elusive.

“Many of the nation’s elite colleges now enroll more students from the wealthiest 1% of families than from the bottom 60%, a disparity that widens the gulf between rich and poor and has negative impacts on the economy. It also runs counter to a fundamental mission of universities, which is to empower and expand opportunities for everyone.”

UCI has won national praise for its efforts to create an educational “big tent.”

Among other steps, campus officials have spent decades cultivating relationships with local high schools and community colleges that historically have sent few pupils to major research universities. In 1983, UCI teamed with Cal State Fullerton and Santa Ana College to form the Santa Ana Partnership, which dramatically boosted college readiness and application rates among Santa Ana Unified high school students. The program served as a model for other UC campuses.

“We’re glad to see MONEY recognize that affordability, accessibility and quality are in UC’s DNA,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “I am delighted to see UC Irvine become the first-ever public university to score the top spot. What an impressive feat!”

Enrolling disadvantaged students is one thing. Ensuring they graduate is another.

Nationwide, just 49% of Pell Grant recipients — who typically come from impoverished families — earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. But at UCI, the graduation rate for Pell students is a whopping 85%.

Campus administrators attribute the success to UCI’s pioneering support services. The school’s First Generation Faculty Initiative, for instance, assists the roughly 50% of UCI undergrads who are the first in their families to attend college.

The campaign, which debuted in 2015 and soon spread to other UC campuses, offers mentorship and encouragement from professors who are first-generation college graduates.

A similar effort, Decade Plus, matches first-generation newcomers with older peers and grad students who coach them on such matters as managing finances and stress.

Irvine was also the first UC campus to establish a class to guide undeclared freshmen, who are mostly Latino and account for nearly 1 in 5 new students. The course covers time management, tutoring resources, research opportunities and more.

Veterans are another group that gets specialized attention. In addition to pioneering guaranteed campus housing for former military members and their families, UCI offers priority class registration, scholarships for those who have exhausted their GI Bill benefits, workshops and job conferences. For 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCI the 13th-best university for veterans, up from 32nd three years ago.

“Our goal,” Gillman said, “is to make a world-class education accessible and affordable to talented, hardworking students of all backgrounds. In so doing, we remind the country that great universities can reinvigorate the American dream by becoming the most powerful engines of social mobility ever created.”

For more UCI News, visit: https://news.uci.edu/



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