Highlands a National Leader in Boosting Students Social Mobility and Earnings


Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Highlands University graduates are ranked 19th among 342 four-year public teaching colleges nationwide for social mobility.

Las Vegas, N.M –  New Mexico Highlands University is one of the leading colleges in the country for boosting its students’ social mobility, according to the Brookings Institution.

In a study published in July 2017, the Brookings Institution ranked Highlands 19th among 342 four-year public teaching colleges nationwide that help push students up the income ladder upon graduation, especially those from low-income families.

Highlands is among select colleges that succeed in promoting opportunity, which makes for a more dynamic and fair society, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

“As a nation, if we want to loosen the grip of intergenerational poverty, we must support institutions like Highlands that accomplish that goal and are successful ladders of upward social mobility,” said Highlands University President Sam Minner. “I’m very proud of our university for being recognized for this accomplishment. Join our HU family. Allow us the opportunity to help you achieve your dreams. Blast out of Highlands to lead a life of deep purpose and meaning, including a great job.”

Minner said college graduates experience many positive outcomes beyond increased earnings, such as typically having better health, voting more frequently, and accessing social services less frequently.

He said many studies show that higher education is especially important in helping students who are the first in their family to attend college break out of poverty. These students are a significant Highlands University demographic.

“Graduating from college changes these first-generation students’ lives, but the benefit does not stop there. Frequently, this is the beginning of an intergenerational shift, with their children and grandchildren also graduating from some form of post-secondary education,” said Minner, citing his own story of being a first-generation college student whose daughter and son both achieved graduate degrees.

“My story is not unique. Graduate from college and that sets the path and provides motivation for future generations to do the same. In my opinion, our nation should do everything possible to provide the opportunity of a college education to all our citizens, especially those who face daunting economic challenges,” said Minner, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

Minner said moving students out of poverty is an enterprise endeavor that involves dedicated faculty, staff and administrators at Highlands, with alumni also playing an important role.

“How every person at Highlands treats our students and how much they care about them is at the heart of any educational endeavor. Showing this by word and deed matters a great deal,” Minner said.

Minner said he thinks he and many of his colleagues at Highlands work at the university in part because of a shared belief that the work they do promotes social mobility for students, changing their lives.

The Brookings Institution used newly available tax data from the Equality of Opportunity Project at Stanford University as well as a number of other recent research studies to gauge upward mobility of college students.

The Brookings Institution’s mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.