This University Can Increase Your Salary by Nearly 50 Percent

Where you attend college can have a huge impact on your earnings. Discover the five schools with the biggest payoff.

Where you go to college can affect the rest of your life — and not just because student debt can haunt you.

New research shows that the right school can boost your salary to six figures.

The findings are broken down in a report from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program titled “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools.”

In using this “value-added” approach, researchers measured the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and predicted outcomes for institutions with similar characteristics and students.

A university’s “value-added” rating depended on both measurable aspects of school quality (such as graduation rates and the market value of the skills a college teaches) and unmeasurable factors (such as exceptional leadership).

The analysis found that the average four-year school has a value-added of 9 percent, while the highest-ranked four-year school, the California Institute of Technology, has a value-added of 49 percent.

Unfamiliar with Caltech? It’s the school credited with developing a technology that may allow you to take 3-D photos with your phone.

The Pasadena Star-News reported earlier this month:

An inexpensive silicon chip smaller than a square millimeter could scan images at a resolution that is three orders of magnitude better than what today’s 3-D scanners could produce.

While the Brookings Institution admits that value-added rankings are imperfect, it argues they are an improvement on conventional college rankings and “fill a demand for greater transparency and accountability in higher education,” according to a press release.

The report’s highest-ranked four-year schools are:

1. California Institute of Technology

  • Value-added: 49 percent
  • Predicted mid-career earnings: $77,129
  • Actual mid-career earnings: $126,200 (compared to an average of $75,900 for all four-year and higher colleges)

2. Colgate University (New York)

  • Value-added: 46 percent
  • Predicted mid-career earnings: $79,774
  • Actual mid-career earnings: $126,600

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Value-added: 45 percent
  • Predicted mid-career earnings: $82,439
  • Actual mid-career earnings: $128,800

4. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Indiana)

  • Value-added: 44 percent
  • Predicted mid-career earnings: $73,628
  • Actual mid-career earnings: $114,100

5. Carleton College (Minnesota)

  • Value-added: 43 percent
  • Predicted mid-career earnings: $76,236
  • Actual mid-career earnings: $117,700

The other top-ranked four-year schools are:

  • Washington and Lee University (Virginia)
  • SUNY Maritime College (New York)
  • Clarkson University (New York)
  • Manhattan College (New York)
  • Stanford University (California)
  • Harvey Mudd College (California)
  • Rice University (Texas)
  • Marietta College (Ohio)
  • Virginia Military Institute
  • Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Massachusetts)
  • St. Mary’s University (Texas)
  • Stevens Institute of Technology (New Jersey)
  • Bradley University (Illinois)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, main campus

The top-ranked two-year schools are:

  • New Hampshire Technical Institute Concord
  • Lee College (Texas)
  • Pearl River Community College (Mississippi)

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Stacy Johnson

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