Manhattan College: America’s Most Transformative School

Many universities help their students to be successful. But the best colleges are those that truly transform the economic trajectories of their graduates.

One of those remarkable schools is a small private college under the radar in the Bronx.

Manhattan College, a Catholic school that combines a liberal arts education with popular business and engineering programs, landed No.1 in Annual Money Ranking of America’s Most Transformative Colleges—Through its proven ability to change the lives of its students.

Money rankings use a unique “value-added” analysis to identify colleges that are doing an exceptional job of helping students perform better than they would if they enrolled elsewhere. Students from wealthier backgrounds or those with high grades and test scores are already likely to be successful; colleges on our transformative list help students succeed regardless of their background, and they do so at higher rates than schools with similar student bodies. Manhattan College’s graduation rate, for example, is 37% higher than expected for schools that enroll students with the same academic and socio-economic backgrounds.

More than six in 10 Manhattan College graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds reach the top income quintile in their early 30s, according to data from Opportunity Insights, a Harvard University-based research and policy institute.

“We tend to attract a student with a seriousness and career focus that comes with it from day one,” says William Bisset, vice president of enrollment management at Manhattan College.

Manhattan College alumni report average salaries of $ 62,600 three years after graduation, according to That compares to $ 56,400 at Fordham, $ 60,800 at NYU, and $ 69,200 at Columbia. These salaries help push graduates into middle class lifestyles.

Other transformative colleges on Money List include: Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California; MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts; and the University of Illinois at Chicago. See the full ranking here.

“A grassroots commitment”

Joshua Cuppek / Courtesy Manhattan College

What is the key to Manhattan College’s success? Deeply individualized attention to each student, according to professors and staff. Manhattan College gets involved in the university life of students from an early age and remains engaged until graduation.

“There is really a grassroots commitment to the students before they start their studies here,” says Bisset.

Support begins with summer bridging programs, designed to help underserved, economically disadvantaged, or first-generation students coming to university. Students in these programs come to take classes during the summer to ease the transition from high school to college. The program is free for eligible students.

During the summer, students benefit from additional academic resources such as personal tutoring and more focused counseling. In addition, students receive workshops on time management, financial literacy and finding internships. Students even take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Personality Assessment to better assess their individual needs.

“It’s not just academics, we educate the whole person and we take it very seriously,” says Marisa Passafiume, Assistant Vice President for Academic Success.

After the school year is over, students are guided through the college process with the help of guidance counselors, peer mentors and alumni. They help students with everything from course planning and loan management, to internship preparation and choosing a career path. Schools Center for Academic Success offers additional academic support to any student who needs it. The center trains graduate and post-graduate students to teach their peers.

These resources have been particularly helpful for Angely Morillo, who is a rising junior at Manhattan College, in navigating her college experience.

“As a first-generation student, you don’t really know how these things work,” says the 20-year-old, a finance graduate.

First generation students and others who need additional support – for example, students whose primary home language is not English – have access to additional counselors who meet the specific needs of students. students, says Bisset.

An early warning system

Joshua Cuppek / Courtesy Manhattan College

When students are struggling, Manhattan College steps in as early as possible; he doesn’t wait for students to come for help or fail a course. The college has implemented an early warning system where students receive additional support when they need it.

“The students are laughing… they’re laughing at me because I’m going to find you,” Passafiume jokes. “We care enough to come and find you and meet you where you are,” she said.

The warning system can go into effect for many reasons, says Passafiume. A student may fall behind in their homework or may have missed one or more lessons. A faculty member could have had a conversation with a student that raised concerns. Professors can also submit references for a student they believe may need additional support. The school sends e-mails to teachers during the first and fourth week of class to register.

The first month is the school’s “early warning” period, according to Passafiume. “If we find any problems in the first four weeks of the semester, the chances of a student recovering and succeeding are much higher than if we wait until after those first four weeks,” she says.

Since many students work during the day, the the tutoring center remains open until 8 p.m. Students also have access to online tutoring.

“We had a student taking private lessons while she was on the bus via her cell phone,” says Passafiume.

Focus on careers

Chris Taggart / Courtesy Manhattan College

Manhattan College also uses its Career Development Center, the alumni network and location in New York to its advantage to place students in competitive internships, research and employment opportunities at companies such as American Express, Google, NBCUniversal, Tesla and IBM .

A program, Women Inspiring Successful Enterprise (WISE), aims to empower women by helping them in their professional development. WISE places participating students in internships that match their career goals. They offer allowances when internships are unpaid and provide students with free accommodation on campus for the duration of their internship. Morillo, who is part of the program, is at American Express for his internship this summer.

“I was successful because Manhattan College was so helpful and so resourceful,” she says.

This story has been updated to clarify that while Manhattan College has a great liberal arts school, it also offers degrees in business, health, and engineering.

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