Colleges have become increasingly expensive. College graduates are leaving college with more and more debt, yet everyone says that you need to get a degree. As the costs get higher, it no longer becomes clear whether that declaration still holds (see here and here). It makes sense then that sites like Payscale try to give consumers more information about their choices. Payscale provides a report once a year on the average annual salary of several schools (over 900 institutions). The table below lists the top 10 schools in 2016-2017 at the Early and Mid-Career levels.
They are mostly elite colleges that only admit the top students, therefore, it isn't surprising that the receive high salaries. Also many of these universities are known for engineering. Thankfully, Payscale also provides the average salary for many college majors (over 300). Using this data and the IPEDS database we can reconstruct what colleges and universities average salary should have been had their graduates earned the average salaries for the degrees they earned. Using this constructed salary we can create a "mark-up" value. The two graph below show the top 10 Early and Mid-Career mark-ups.
What a difference. There are still a few elite colleges and universities, but there are several surprising names amongst these lists. However, we still are forced to admit that the quality of the graduating students certainly reflects the quality of the entering students. So do these mark-ups reflect what students are getting out of their experience in school, or do the numbers just reflect the ability they brought with them. To address that the following table subtracts the early-career mark-up from the mid-career mark-up. If the number is large then it is likely that something about their college experience is being recognized as valuable by the job market.
This top 10 is very different than the previous lists. This is a clear victory for small liberal arts colleges and their ability to transform lives. However, Babson College certainly deserve special recognition for being on all three top 10 lists. This analysis does not tell you which college to go to since it does not incorporate the costs. However, it does tell you which colleges provide an education that employers learn to value.
If you're interested in a particular college or university please leave a comment or send me an email.