Brookings Institution Study Recognizes Wilkes University For Helping Students Improve Income After Graduation

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John Wilkes Statue

Wilkes Ranked 14th Overall Among Selective Private Four-Year Colleges

Wilkes University has been recognized by the Brookings Institution for helping students to be able to improve their economic standing and income after graduation. In the study, “Opportunity Engines: Middle-Class Mobility in Higher Education,” Wilkes was ranked 14th overall among all colleges and universities and sixth among selective four-year private colleges and universities of its size for helping students from middle-class families raise their income level over previous generations. 

Wilkes was ranked highest in northeast Pennsylvania and ranked higher than many of its peer institutions in its record of raising income levels of middle-class students. The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

“This recognition affirms the value of a Wilkes education in helping our graduates achieve both economic and career success,” said Wilkes University President Greg Cant. “The data from the Brookings Institution also reflects Wilkes University’s historic commitment to educate first-generation college students and provide access to higher education.”

Focusing on middle-class families, Brookings researchers examined College Scorecard Data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as the Mobility Report Card from Opportunity Insights, a nonpartisan research and policy institute based at Harvard University focused on improving economic opportunity. 

The report’s authors developed a measure for upward economic mobility among students from middle-income families. In ranking the colleges, they assessed students who come from the middle quintile of parental income —and who themselves move up to at least the next income category in adulthood. Selective four-year colleges like Wilkes were found to have the highest levels of income improvement. 

In its report, the study’s authors stated, “The fact that children from poor families are likely to be poor adults, while children lucky enough to be born to well-off parents tend to grow up to be well-off adults is well established.” Concerns over a “vanishing middle class” have been well documented. In the United States, the extent to which children are economically better off than their parents is declining. The Brookings researchers noted that many studies have established that students who graduate from college reap economic returns – but also pointed out that those economic returns vary depending on which college or university the student attended. 

For more stories about Wilkes University and its students, faculty and staff, please visit News@Wilkes.

About Wilkes University

Wilkes University is a private, independent, non-sectarian institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs. Founded in 1933, Wilkes is on a mission to create one of the nation’s finest doctoral universities, offering all of the programs, activities and opportunities of a large university in the intimate, caring and mentoring environment of a small college, open to all who show promise. The Economist named Wilkes 25th in the nation for the value of its education for graduates. In addition to 46 majors, Wilkes offers 24 master’s degree programs and five doctoral/terminal degree programs, including the doctor of philosophy in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, doctor of pharmacy, and master of fine arts in creative writing. Learn more at


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