Underlying the American dream is the belief that individual self-improvement is possible for anyone. However, because of differences in the biological and socioeconomic circumstances into which people may be born, achieving the American dream can be much more difficult for some than it is for others.

This is why social mobility is so important. Understood as the capacity for moving into new tiers of wealth, social standing or other areas of socioeconomic importance, social mobility is in turn greatly enhanced through education. In short, a principal aim of education is to provide individuals the chance to overcome initial disadvantages in life and successfully exercise their right to the pursuit of happiness.

We at LSU of Alexandria are proud to have been named as one of the top 100 national liberal arts colleges in the United States in terms of creating social mobility for students. This means we are doing our job.

One of the reasons for our success at LSUA is the recognition that in today’s competitive society, students are best served through a college education that is about more than knowledge acquired in the classroom. Such knowledge is important, of course, but of equal importance to potential employers and graduate schools is an applicant’s demonstrated ability to work collaboratively, communicate successfully, and solve problems effectively – and to do so with the appropriate interpersonal and soft skills.

At most colleges and universities, graduates have the potential to do these things. Graduates from LSUA have more than mere potential; our graduates come to the job already possessing the ability – the demonstrated ability – to do these things.

The key to this is experiential learning, which enhances classroom-based learning through hands-on activities that provide students with practical, real-life perspectives. It is learning by doing.

At LSUA, students engage in a variety of experiential learning activities: work-related internships; substantive research projects; volunteer work; studying in other countries and other parts of the United States; peer mentoring; leadership opportunities; collaborative problem-solving; various types of field work; and other possibilities that promote the development of skills that are sought by employers.

Through this commitment to experiential learning, LSUA graduates are more prepared to hit the ground running when they enter the workforce and are thus well-positioned positioned to be promoted more quickly and expand their professional opportunities over time.

The result is social mobility. Creating social mobility is an obligation we take very seriously, and we will continue to develop pathways for our students to successfully pursue the American dream.

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