The School Ranking List Harvard Doesn’t Top

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Memorial Church at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Think you’ll be making top dollar with that Harvard diploma hanging on your wall? Sure, the Cambridge, Mass. university topped U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of the best colleges in the nation (again), and is third best in the world according to the QS World University Rankings. But no matter how many accolades Harvard rakes in or how much praise it garners, its graduates are paling in comparison to their peers at lesser institutions in one crucial field: starting salary. It’s a list on which Harvard ranks #37.

If money is your object, skip the liberal arts degree from the country’s oldest college and instead look toward a degree from a specialty university. Though the career options might not thrill you, the salaries certainly will. Take, for example, under-the-radar institutions like Loma Linda University near San Bernardino, Calif., or the South Dakota School of Mining and Technology (SDSMT) in Rapid City, S.D. According to a survey by PayScale, Loma Linda grads average salary after graduation is $64,600, thanks to a smattering of degrees in lucrative medical fields including dental and nursing assistants. The 2,300 students graduating with a SDSMT diploma this year will earn an average of $56,700. That highly coveted Harvard degree, on the other hand, will net new grads a median salary of $54,100. Though their Cambridge peers scored nearly double on the SATs, the SDSMT students score bigger paychecks thanks to far more opportunities available in computer science or engineering fields that the school caters to.

(PHOTOSLet the Graduations Commence)

SDSMT students find opportunities with multinational employers like Halliburton and Caterpillar, according to PayScale’s survey, which the company has conducted annually for the past eight years. Katie Bardaro, Payscale’s lead economist, told ABC News that the highest-ranking colleges tend to be those that concentrate on engineering, nursing and health sciences. Indeed, both the Colorado School of Mines and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology will net you a higher salary immediately after graduation than Harvard.

Especially at a time when students are drowning in debt and face massive loan payments falling due just months after graduation, it can’t hurt to pad the piggybank with your first job. Of course, the earnings comparison equals out within a few years, as Harvard grads tend to command higher salaries toward the middle of their careers. (PayScale’s starting salary number was gathered from graduates who had fewer than five years of experience and had graduated with only a bachelor’s degree in their chosen fields.)

But those looking to truly make the most of their education should look past Harvard and down the Charles River: the school that boasts the highest pay in the U.S. for recent graduates is the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Click here for the full list from PayScale.com.

MORE: And the Best College of 2013 Is…

33 comments
ThiagoDaLuz
ThiagoDaLuz

 Starting salary? That is pretty surprising, especially from Harvard. I'm tempted to write it off as students used to having things handed them. Then again, it is Harvard. Thiago |  http://sedationdentistboise.com

Storysunfolding
Storysunfolding

Like any other study you need to look at the methodology first before you can interpret the results. Here's a key feature that negates the finding of the article above.

Bachelors Only: Only employees who possess a Bachelor's Degree and no higher degrees are included. This means Bachelor graduates who go on to earn a Master's degree, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, or other advanced degree are not included.
For some Liberal Arts, Ivy League, and highly selective schools, graduates with degrees higher than a bachelor's degree can represent a significant fraction of all graduates.

Full-Time Employees Only: Only graduates who are employed full-time and paid with either an hourly wage or an annual salary are included.
Self-Employed, project-based, and contract employees are not included. For example, project-based graphic designers and architects, and nearly all small business owners and novelists, are not included.

Given that Harvard and other top school graduates go on to get advanced degrees, you're only comparing your schools numbers against the lower achievers at those schools. Furthermore Harvard encourages their graduates to make new jobs, not find them. There's a disproportionate number of self employed (and remarkably successful) harvard grads compared to other institutes.


I didn't go there, but seeing the engineering and vocational based schools up top made me look for the link to the methodology statement at the top of the article.

livingthedream
livingthedream

Hey Ivy League boys.  Looks like your not so smart after all.  I went to San Diego State and earn 6 times more than your average.  My tuition was $1200 a semester.  How much was yours???  You guys were conned into believing an Ivy League education was everything. In the real world it's not.  I'm a college graduate and believe college is important, but it's not the deciding factor on how successful you'll be.  Ivy League schools are overrated and over priced.  Not to mention all the Liberal Arts schools.  $50,000 a year for tuition?  Suckers!


Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/22/the-school-ranking-list-harvard-doesnt-top/#ixzz2PX62k0jv

acn0211
acn0211

We took a tour of Harvard, and the lack of substance, combined with the elitist attitude displayed in plenty by the staff and students, is ample evidence of the real Harvard. To top it, the recent revelation about the modus of the conduct of tests... Open-book, open-notes, open-Internet, at-home tests is evidence of the sloppy methodology of education at Harvard. It took over 50% of the students having identical answers, and with support and provision of previous answers for the same test, form previous years, is evidence of this not being a oneoff happening. Also, Harvard neighbor MIT has maintained 150 years of credibility of the highest order. In fact, it is public impression that money and grandfathering are admission criteria. The noise about a few underprivileged students admitted are only to whitewash the obvious negativism. In 2011, a student from California protested Harvard's admission process devoid of genuine merit based consideration. The fact that money and influence overrides merit is a reality. Harvard is no different from any other.

Tony D'Andrea
Tony D'Andrea

Probably biased analysis. Look not at first-job salary but long-term career earnings. Not to mention that a liberal arts education will probably engender a richer being at intellectual, moral and civic levels.

N3N
N3N

Some of the worst dead end careers have very high starting salaries. Employment with Department of Defense is probably the best example of that. The starting salary is high because no one with any sense would work in those h*ll holes. 

egm80
egm80

I was a liberal arts major (International Relations) and make well over 6 figures. I credit the fact that I went to a very well rated school (Georgetown), not the major.  If you go to a state school that isn't in the top 25, you should major in something that gives you a very specific skill set. If you go to Harvard, it doesn't matter what you major in - you'll do fine.

dewittarar
dewittarar

This article misses the mark on a number of levels!  First of all, Harvard and other Ivy League grads have a huge leg up on most other college grads because they all, for the most part, graduate DEBT FREE!  The Ivies and some of the other private top tier schools have, for some time now, committed to giving fast sums of financial aid to their students who could otherwise not afford to attend in the form of GRANTS, so that there is nothing for them to re-pay when they graduate, unlike some of the other schools which "give" financial aid in the forms of loans, which they do have to re-pay.  The Ivies do this precisely so that their graduates have many options, like attending grad school, without the worry of having to immediately go out and find the highest possible paying job to pay off loans.  

So the whole premise of this article is completely flawed as it presupposes that a graduate from Harvard, who may be making less than a graduate from a less prestigious school, is worst off vis-a-vis student loans that need to be repaid soon after graduating.  Well guess what, that Harvard grad who may start out making $54,000 per year versus $64,000 has ZERO debt to pay off.  I'd be willing to bet that some of their higher paid peers would trade their huge college loan debts at a chance to start out a career unburdened by debt!

Amanda Guyton
Amanda Guyton

What is a shame is that employers fail to see the huge advantage liberal arts education offers their companies. Hiring people who can think- who can observe, analyze, and communicate effectively- will take you much farther than folks trained to specific tasks and technologies that will be obsolete in a few years. You can retrain someone who understands the process of thinking and training, and with far more ease and success. 

meowcow199
meowcow199

Worst advice ever. What kinda crap article is this?

It suggests picking a study stream that's unthrilling and boring for the sake of a higher starting salary and a lower longterm salary??

John Philippi
John Philippi

Not surprising really... I would expect technical degrees to be worth more.

Simps0n
Simps0n

It's even worse if you factor in the setback funds to get the degree.

jiasdofasdj
jiasdofasdj

This is pointless. Especially in this economy, people starting a law or medical career are going to be paid s#@t. That's just the way it is. After their 3rd or 4th year the picture will change.

Dubya Roos
Dubya Roos

This is another schtupid Time magazine survey that misses the mark. It goes school by school and lumps all the polisci majors with all the engineering majors with all the english lit majors with all the pre-med students, etc... And different schools have different proportions of the various majors/degrees. A far more meaningful comparison would be to compare graduates with a specific degree across all schools, for each of the various degrees. If that were done instead, I'm sure Harvard, along with all the other top-tier schools would do just fine. I also think just looking at salaries as a yardstick of "success" or "quality" is foolhardy. There are lots of college degree seekers that would love to have the opportunity to go to a top-tier school like Harvard as the potential experience transcends money (hard as that is to believe in our culture).

Marklo7
Marklo7

 Nursing Assistants do NOT make that much money. Much less, you don't need a degree. It's a certificate process.... It's not a lucrative field.

"Loma Linda grads average salary after graduation is $64,600, thanks to a

smattering of degrees in lucrative medical fields including dental and

nursing assistants. "

itaintover
itaintover

You would have to be stupid to get a liberal arts degree nowadays.  Harvard-Liberal Arts... I don't see it.

shimmanni
shimmanni

Harvard, the designation of a prestigeous academy in the U.S. rings loud here in Seoul, or probably louder in the rest of the global capitals. The diploma of the university hanging on the wall of a residential room could be the very object of admiration from the visitors. A father of the Harvard graduate here in Seoul used to paste the walls of his rooms with the pictures and all things that prove the credentials of his proud son. He was even wearing Harvard jackets or T-shirts himself as if he were Harvard student. The novels or movies with one or two Harvard heroes in their works are sure to occupy a certain number of audiences. After all is said and done, Harvard is a wonderful name.

SwiftleftLeft
SwiftleftLeft

Salary ranking:

http://www.payscale.com/best-c...

While our starting salary is the highest, MIT alums drop down a bit when it comes to mid-career salary.  This is probably due to the eventual ceiling most engineers hit.

elotrolado8
elotrolado8

Yes, every important decision should be dictated by fear and greed.

harharNotFunny
harharNotFunny

Along the same line of reasoning, maybe we should look at beginning salary right after high school graduation. I'm sure that's a great way to gauge the quality of the high school.

EricPost
EricPost

Hardly surprising as people that can afford Harvard are not

 concerned about money. They probably do a lot of legal work and 

journalism and politics all which involve unpaid internships. Look at

the earnings in years down the road, I bet Harvard, Yale and Princeton top lists

Richard_Pietrasz
Richard_Pietrasz

If you go to Harvard, you'll go to the best #2 school in town.  As far as #2 schools, Harvard almost certainly beats every other city's #2, and of course, for all but a few, their #1 as well.

Sweetwalter
Sweetwalter

Sorry, Amanda...economists, mining engineers and actuaries along with science majors can hit the ground running and be in demand into the next century while most lib arts grads are tending bar 5 yrs. after graduation while wating for a "real" job.

Greg Keener
Greg Keener

Actually, the more specialized degrees require the same "broad education" in their general requirements. Liberal arts majors ARE worth less. They have the same basic skill set as engineering, medical, law, and other specialized majors without any of the specialized knowledge. Why pay to retrain someone when you can hire someone with the same skills you mentioned that already has the knowledge a company needs?

Greg Keener
Greg Keener

Nope. Liberal arts majors never make up that lost ground. They don't get paid poorly, but usually do not reach the same salaries as more specializes peers.

Sweetwalter
Sweetwalter

Don't compare lawyers and physicians...most lawyers are starving and working for peanuts at big firms...why?  Because there are too many of them.  A good salesman with a BS in Business  or Marketing can do better.  People like Gates, with drive and ambition can do better than any college graduate.   US  DC /Capital Police start at $54,000. @ yr. with benefits and can retire after 20 yrs.  With overtime, many w/ 15 yrs. of service are earning $150,000. @ yr....who needs Harvard? 

Ryan Scherr
Ryan Scherr

Keep in mind that employers will pay an employ what they believe there worth is. I think the point to be taken is that SDSMT is highly regarded by many large companies, and for a good reason.  Something else that's interesting about the article that seems to have gone unnoticed is that its comparing an average to a mean, two very different numbers.

Amanda Guyton
Amanda Guyton

You are showing your ignorance of what "liberal arts" is, or the skills a liberal arts education instills. 

Ur_all_clueless
Ur_all_clueless

This post is ignorant of reality.  Harvard provides massive financial aid that ensures that every single person who is admitted to Harvard can afford to attend.  It's been this way for a very long time.

However, you are correct that industries that expect young students to work in unpaid internships have the side effect of excluding or at least discouraging poorer people from those industries.

Amanda Guyton
Amanda Guyton

Again, that is because employers are viewing colleges and universities more and more as vocational schools, instead of... well, colleges and universities. Besides, mining, engineering, even actuarial skills shift and change. You need to be taught how to deal with shift and change, and how to not only deal with new ideas, but push the boundaries and think the new ideas!

Charles Thompson
Charles Thompson

It's better to tend a bar and have read Foucault than to never have read Foucault at all.

Amanda Guyton
Amanda Guyton

No, they often do not. And they do not have the same skill sets; specialized degrees focus on specialized skills, but often overlook moving beyond those skills. Specialized folks can get form point A to point B. Liberal Arts teaches people how to read maps.