BY: ALEX BROWN
As many high-school teachers are keen to point out to the shocked faces of the classroom, the immediate employment rates of university graduates are lower than those of college graduates. And as a new study reveals, when it comes to the schools with the most earning potential for alumni, the highly accredited Ivy Leagues don’t even make the top 10 list.
The research, conducted by The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization operating out of Washington, DC, stands to change the thinking of college applicants across the country. The question at the centre being: what is the desired outcome of your post-secondary education?
If the answer is something along the lines of, “to achieve a high-paying career,” Brookings offers a list of colleges that would most likely fulfill this wish. Largely, the research analyzes the “value-added” stats of colleges, by weighing the estimated salaries of prospective graduates against the actual salaries of the alumni.
Colleges with high value added include: Cal Tech, MIT and Stanford, but also significantly less recognized schools like Rose-Hulman in Indiana, Colgate in New York, and Carleton College in Minnesota. “Whatever the reason, Colgate, Carleton, and Manhattan place many graduates into top international companies like IBM, Google, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo,” says Brookings.
Additional two-year colleges with high value added include: New Hampshire Technical Institute, Lee College near Houston, and Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. It’s worth repeating that Pearl River exceeds many Ivy Leagues in terms of their alumni’s earning power.
Brookings cites five factors that indicate the earning-probability of graduates:
- Curriculum Value: The average earnings of those who possess a degree from a similar curriculum offered by a college.
- Alumni Skills: The economical value of one’s “skills” as listed on a résumé.
- STEM Orientation: The number of graduates prepared to work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (all foreseeably lucrative fields.)
- Completion Rates: Number of graduates finishing their programs within four years for a two year degree, and eight years for a four year degree.
- Student Aid: The amount of financial support a student receives from their college.
All of these five factors, according to Brookings, are more accurate economical predictors than prestige.
However, universities are called institutions of “higher-learning,” and not “higher-earning” for a reason. For many, the importance of post-secondary education is in its intrinsic value. It’s also worth mentioning that students who graduate from STEM majors are naturally going to earn more—after-all, these are the fields that receive the highest economic accolades in our job market. But to say that a school is “better” because the alumni earn more is to say that a professional linebacker is “better” than an English professor—the comparison doesn’t quite add up, and clearly economic returns are not everything.
Many who pursue an education at a prestigious institution do so for either their own intellectual benefit, or to hopefully, one day, contribute substantial research and thought to the world and academic canon. Therefore, for many applying to Ivy League schools, their reasoning has never cited the potential for financial return.