college / college grads

Choosing a college: Tops in prestige doesn’t always lead to top salaries

“The value of a college degree has traditionally been pegged to the prestige of the college itself. But new research suggests that choosing the right program of study can matter more than a prestigious diploma when it comes to good starting salaries…” writes Lisa Ward for The Wall Street Journal, 5/27/20.
According to Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and and Workforce, focus on a specific program at a particular university, NOT on the schools prestige. Depending on the program, students at less well known colleges with specific majors can out earn graduates of prestigious universities. 

Median earnings for all schools: English majors: $26,600
Columbia University English grads: $41,500
Monmouth College English grads: $42,400
Cal State Fresno:  $13,400
Median earnings for all schools: Civil Engineering majors: $58,200
Stevens Institute of Technology: $72,700
Virginia Military Institute: $40,400

Main points:
Specific programs matter more than the institution. 
Subject area can matter more than a school’s reputation when it comes to earnings.
Lesser degrees and certificates can be rewarding, depending on the field. 

  • In certain fields, it’s not uncommon for associate degree graduates and vocational certificates earn higher starting salaries than bachelor’s degree holders.  Nursing is one example.

Source: Financial Planning for Women