A new way of measuring how different colleges pay off in the long run.
Our calculations scramble the U.S. News hierarchy in all sorts of ways. A handful of the top ten—Dartmouth, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania—stay on top. But others slip— Harvard, for example, falls, to twentieth place. Still other prestigious schools, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, and Yale, don’t break the top sixty, trailing lesser-known public institutions like George Mason University, San Diego State University, and Northern Illinois University, all of which make the top thirty when their alumni’s earnings are taken into account.
Because Payscale doesn’t have data for every college, we couldn’t include our ROI calculations in our national university rankings. But if we did, it would shake up our list, too, moving Stanford University to number one. The University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Pennsylvania move into the top ten, bumping out Case Western Reserve University, Jackson State University, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Getting a job and making money aren’t the only reasons to go to college, of course. But they’re the main reasons for most students. As the current brutal job market shows, it’s critically important for students to get a diploma that will pay off. And as more earnings data becomes available from public and private sources, the time when all colleges will be judged by measures like ROI is quickly approaching. Our first look at the likely results suggests that some colleges won’t be able to hide behind nationwide averages for college graduate earnings anymore. Others, though, will get deserved credit for preparing students to succeed in their careers, in good times as well as bad.
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