Manhattan, CMSV ranked top five in economic mobility

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The College of Mount Saint Vincent and Manhattan College both ranked at number three among 578 private colleges around the country for offering the greatest chance of economic mobility for students, according to a recent joint report by the University of California, Berkeley and the Treasury Department.

The Press reached out to alumni and staff members from both schools to get their perspectives on how both the Mount and Manhattan assist lower income students.

Alumni weigh in

“The education I received spanned from in the classroom discussions to intimate mentoring from faculty and staff,” Adam Connolly, a 2004 Mount graduate, said in an email. “The Mount gave me the confidence in my abilities. The engagement within the campus community makes CMSV unique and a true gem.”

Today, Connolly is a vice president of enrollment management at Coker College in South Carolina. He credited the mentoring he received as a student for helping him navigate his career search and guidance of faculty and staff for teaching him time management skills.

Laura Lalaina Polito, a 1989 Manhattan alumna and first-generation college graduate, praised said the school’s small class sizes.

“I just liked that the college wasn’t that big. I felt like I was able to make friends from all the different schools because weren’t separated by my miles and miles. The friends that I made at Manhattan College, I still have to this day,” she said in a phone interview. After a stint in in the banking industry, Polito has become an independent consultant, recruiter and trainer working for Pampered Chef, a company that markets kitchen tools and food.

Her husband, Joseph Polito, who is a 1988 alumnus and also a first-generation college graduate, credits the internships he secured at Con Edison while an engineering student at Manhattan for his success. He said those summers provided him with the skills, knowledge and network of alumni mentoring and support to land a job after graduation. “They knew the quality of the people coming. Having the internship and the fact that the majority of executives were from Manhattan College… helped me and prepared me for going to Con Edison,” Polito said in a phone interview. Today, he is a manager at Con Edison.

“Manhattan College really provided everything I needed… It had everything I wanted as far as a school. I think in the end, it really paid off because I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish,” Joseph Polito said. “I’m proud to be a Jasper.”

Helping students apply

William Bisset, Manhattan’s vice-president of enrollment management said the college welcomes lower-income students and works with high schools and families. Employees help students with their applications and guides them through the financial aid process.

“With students that come from families that have never been through this process before, everything is completely new to them,” Bisset said. “In a lot of cases, they require an awful lot of direction because they really don’t get the support at home.”

Earlier this year, a coalition of colleges—called the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success—invited Manhattan to join its free online platform that helps students with the college search and application process. Others in the coalition include Oberlin College and Yale University.

“We don’t focus on recruiting low-income first generation students, however, because we are already attractive to them—and middle and upper-income students—through our fundamental, mission-based commitment to making high quality education accessible to all qualified students,” Curt Dirks, Mount’s director of admissions, said in an email.

The school offers programs such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) for lower income students and offers a mix of merit and need-based scholarships to offset the cost of tuition and housing. The student loan default rate for students is 7 percent. That falls below the national average of 11.3 percent, Dirks added.

The U.C. Berkeley and Treasury Department study used anonymous tax records and data from the National Student Loan Data System.

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