College Ranking by Economic Prospects

College Ranking, Ranking of Colleges, University Rankings

Caltech has topped the “US News & World Report” ranking of national universities on more than one occasion in years past (photo credit:

There are lots of college rankings. The one with the most weight, of course, is the “US News & World Report” college ranking. But that doesn’t stop us from reporting on other college rankings. After all, we blog on the topic of college admissions every single day of the week (even on Christmas day!) and we need stuff to talk about. A report released by the Brookings Institute examines the economic success of graduates of universities across America and ranks these universities accordingly. So if we didn’t have enough college rankings, now we’ve got a college ranking by economic prospects.

Indeed as reported by “MarketWatch” in a piece about this college ranking, the Brookings Institute report “looks at factors like alumni salaries, federal student loan repayment rates and student characteristics, to determine the schools that most affect their graduates’ level of economic success.” We happened to think that was an interesting analysis. But while this report has garnered headlines because schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton aren’t at the top, we’d like to point out why this is the case. As reported by “MarketWatch,” “Many of the usual suspects such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale don’t make the top of Brookings’ rankings. The Brookings model compares graduates’ actual outcomes after college versus their predicted outcomes when they came in as undergraduates. That means it doesn’t reward extremely selective schools or those that admit students with the highest likelihood of success.” It sure seems like a handicap to us! These schools are being penalized in this ranking for being selective. Oy.

So which universities do rank highly in this latest college ranking? The colleges with “the highest value added with respect to mid-career earnings” are as follows: Caltech (which, by the way, is absolutely one of the most prestigious schools in the nation and for a couple of years even topped the “US News & World Report” college ranking), Colgate University, MIT, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Carleton College to round out the top five. Of the other schools near the top of the ranking, these are the selective or highly selective ones: Stanford University, Harvey Mudd College, and Rice University.

What do you think of this ranking? Here’s our thought: Even though selective and highly selective colleges had to overcome a major handicap, many of them did very well in this ranking (Caltech is one of America’s most selective universities and they topped this list…not to mention MIT, Stanford, and Rice made the cut, too). So we’d be curious to see this ranking without any handicap. Level the playing field, Brookings Institute…and let’s see what happens!


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