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August 9, 2009 11:23 PM   Subscribe

You can rank U.S. colleges by subjective, random methodologies. Or, you can rank colleges by what really matters: how much money you'll make after you graduate.

Spoiler: Ivy Leaguers make more money.
posted by jabberjaw (71 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
An interesting ranking would be a salary to student-loan-debt ratio. That might be another useful indicator of return on investment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 PM on August 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh, well, look at that. My alma mater's number one.

Show me the money, dammit! (I guess I should have chosen a more lucrative career - finance? consulting? - than being an editor.)

What does that list actually mean? It's pointless. Top median salary in what field? I have friends from college who have gone on to be successful and respected in their fields, and although they're doing well (as far as I know) none of them would be counted as "rich" in the U.S. Not by Wall Street standards, at least. They've made amazing documentaries, become professors of Medievalist literature, defense attorneys for people accused of terrorist acts, etc., but when they graduated their earning potential was only as high as the third link says it is if they'd gone into work they didn't want to do.

Is that the point of education? To make as much money in a field you hate, or that bores you to the point of insanity? Because that's fucking crazy.
posted by rtha at 11:38 PM on August 9, 2009 [19 favorites]


....or parental income : offspring income
posted by lalochezia at 11:39 PM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, rich kids stay rich: news at 11.
posted by serazin at 11:45 PM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh Jesus, my college is way down there for the money I'm paying for it. I also like the 7000 dip compared to the schools around it on the list for starting salary.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:47 PM on August 9, 2009


Yeah I wonder if I would be making $130,000/year as a Dartmouth graduate right now if I didn't have parents who were connected to the vast East Coast money establishment which has given us such jems like George W. Bush and John Kerry.

I mean, is it any wonder that these incredibly rich people send their children to these colleges and when they graduate they just happen to make incredible amounts of money. It's downright shocking, I say.
posted by Avenger at 11:49 PM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


you can rank colleges by what really matters:

Party schools! Whoo-hoo!! Party schools! Amirite, dude?
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:54 PM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


The most important thing on this list is if your scanning for schools without engineering programs in the top 25 its about 5 of them as for schools in the Midwest or the South there are none in the top 25. So go to an Engr. School on the east or west coast, folks.
posted by Rubbstone at 11:58 PM on August 9, 2009


Party schools! Whoo-hoo!! Party schools! Amirite, dude?

We laugh, but you'd be surprised at how many kids actually base the decision on what college they go to on which ones have the best party atmosphere. I know people whose only college considerations were Arizona, San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara.

....or parental income : offspring income

I'd almost agree with this, except you'll notice that there are a lot of cheaper state schools that rank higher than a lot of expensive private schools - say, UC Davis vs. Pepperdine. I agree that parental income is a factor, but so is geography (assuming that many college graduates remain in the location they graduated).
posted by jabberjaw at 12:11 AM on August 10, 2009


An interesting ranking would be a salary to student-loan-debt ratio. That might be another useful indicator of return on investment.

It would make more sense to look at the average net, not the ratio.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 AM on August 10, 2009


I wonder if networking also comes into play? As in, being rich might not be a direct factor, but knowing people (who know people who are) in positions of power might. You don't necessarily need to be rich, although it helps; if your friend is rich, then they can introduce you to the right people. Then as jabberjaw pointed out, geography would be an intersecting factor because you'd have more networking opportunities in most places on the Coasts than in, say, a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin.
posted by bettafish at 12:38 AM on August 10, 2009


Ivy Leaguers might make more money, but probably not because they chose an Ivy League school.

From Malcolm Gladwell's essay on Ivy League admissions:

"How do we know that two students who have the same S.A.T. scores and grades really are equivalent? It's quite possible that the student who goes to Harvard is more ambitious and energetic and personable than the student who wasn't let in, and that those same intangibles are what account for his better career success. To assess the effect of the Ivies, it makes more sense to compare the student who got into a top school with the student who got into that same school but chose to go to a less selective one. Three years ago, the economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale published just such a study. And they found that when you compare apples and apples the income bonus from selective schools disappears."
posted by parudox at 1:33 AM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


So your prestigious school only accepts ridiculously successful and driven students? And these students go on to make a lot of money? Tell me more!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:35 AM on August 10, 2009


Three years ago, the economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale published just such a study. And they found that when you compare apples and apples the income bonus from selective schools disappears.

True, but...from the abstract of the study:

Children from low-income families, however, earned more if they at-
tended selective colleges.


That is, all other things being equal, the more selective colleges provided greater networking opportunities for those that most needed them in the first place?
posted by vacapinta at 1:50 AM on August 10, 2009


I'm the laziest motherfucker on God's green earth, and a high school and college dropout to boot, and I make more at 35 than all but the biggest number on that list. YAY BELL CURVES!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:18 AM on August 10, 2009


According to a report in last week's Observer, the Conservatives think this is such a good wheeze that they are planning to introduce it to Britain too:

The Conservatives pledged last night to open universities to tougher scrutiny by publishing data next month that details what happens to students' job prospects and salaries when they leave individual institutions, exposing for the first time how college choice affects lifetime earnings.

The move potentially threatens those universities at the bottom of league tables, whose students may get very minimal returns. 'Young people will focus much more on this if we get really crunchy figures -- if you knew you could earn, say £400,000 more over a lifetime by doing engineering at a Russell Group university and £50,000 if you do English at a lesser one', said David Willetts, the higher education spokesman.


All in the name of student choice, of course -- who could object to that? -- but the real purpose is obviously to justify government spending cuts.
posted by verstegan at 3:13 AM on August 10, 2009


All in the name of student choice, of course -- who could object to that? -- but the real purpose is obviously to justify government spending cuts

You're probably right, but spending cuts, in themselves, aren't bad things. I recruit heavily at graduate level and the quality of the some of the candidates, shiny 2:1 degree in hand, is appalling.

Quite simply, once you get below level x in a university league table, the majority of graduates are unemployable at "graduate" positions. And that's hardly surprising, because when you dial back a few years and look at their A-level or GSCE results, they are a mixture of Ds and Es.

Factor in grade inflation, and what you're seeing is an awful lot of graduates who 20 - or even 10 - years ago would simply not have been good enough to go to university. They would have done something else - and quite possibly been very good at it - but the ridiculous notion that if enough university places are creates and grade quotas massaged that the UK will become awash with quality graduates is nonsense. As an aside, many graduates also haven't worked hard enough at university, which is partly the fault of the many mickey mouse courses with low requirements for lecture attendance of self-study.

One corollary is that outside a specific number of specialist roles, where employers are highly selective (read: only recruit from top graduates from top universities), graduate pay has stagnated. I recruited someone two months back with a year's decent job experience and an OK-ish degree and his salary was £17k in his previous role. In my company, graduate salaries are, adjusted for inflation, below where they were 10-15 years ago.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem: too many graduates, not enough jobs, and employers swamped by hordes of crap candidates with the unenviable job of finding the proverbial needle. I feel genuinely sorry for many of graduates. They've been grossly misled as to the market worth of their education and leave university saddled with debt and the prospect of, for example, average house prices running at 7x the average graduate salary.

If that weren't bad enough, companies are pulling decent pension schemes as quick as they can and this generation are having to pay for the baby boomer generation who've lucked out on property, pension schemes and retirement ages and who, by and large, faced few of the problems of today's graduates.

/rant over
posted by MuffinMan at 4:13 AM on August 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wait a second -- Stanford's an engineering school? I mean, that's what I went there for, but that probably would have come as a vast surprise to most everybody else.
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:25 AM on August 10, 2009


Or, you can rank colleges by what really matters: how much money you'll some guy you didn't know will make after you graduate that will skew the average for your school while you continue to wait tables.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:38 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


if your scanning for schools without engineering programs in the top 25 its about 5 of them as for schools in the Midwest or the South there are none in the top 25. So go to an Engr. School on the east or west coast, folks.

I'd like to see this controlled for cost of living somehow. $80k in Manhattan, NY ain't the same as $80k in Manhattan, KS.
posted by fleacircus at 4:54 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I call shenanigans.

payscale.com constructs this list from their own survey data.
The survey data is collected from persons who want a free report from payscale.com
(you must complete the survey to get the report)

So unless Warren Buffet or that guy sleeping in the bus station went to this website & filled out the survey, they aren't in the database. And what if they were less than truthful...

A similar self-selected survey gave the 1936 presidential election to Alf Landon. They've had a poor reputation since then.
posted by hexatron at 5:12 AM on August 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm a little surprised that there aren't any service academies on that list.
posted by box at 5:13 AM on August 10, 2009


I don't know a goddamn soul among my classmates who's making the 'median' or above salary and we're three years out. When I was making the most money I ever did, it was 10k below the starting salary figure, and I was buying drinks for everyone I knew constantly.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:18 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is what really matters in an objective system that Bernard Madoff and Grover Norquist could agree on. I'm pretty sure Richard Feynman and Gore Vidal could beat them in a fair fight, though.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:23 AM on August 10, 2009


Wow, I didn't know universities were job-training centers!
posted by Electrius at 5:51 AM on August 10, 2009


Wait a second -- Stanford's an engineering school? I mean, that's what I went there for, but that probably would have come as a vast surprise to most everybody else.

"Has," not "is." A lot of universities show up on the list twice — once for the engineering school, once for liberal arts.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 AM on August 10, 2009


CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
posted by LSK at 6:13 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or, you can rank colleges by what really matters: how much money you'll some guy you didn't know will make after you graduate that will skew the average for your school while you continue to wait tables.

This list uses the median salaries. Unlike averages, medians are resistant to being skewed by outliers.
posted by jedicus at 6:18 AM on August 10, 2009


Why do you think Dartmouth goes from the 20th highest starting median salary to the highest mid-career median salary? Very large outliers?
posted by gushn at 6:23 AM on August 10, 2009


I don't know a goddamn soul among my classmates who's making the 'median' or above salary and we're three years out. When I was making the most money I ever did, it was 10k below the starting salary figure, and I was buying drinks for everyone I knew constantly.

Yep. And meanwhile, for every friend you've got, another classmate of yours is reading this list and shaking his head saying "I don't know anyone who's making the 'median' or below and we just graduated a few years ago. The summer after junior year, I was already earning twice that starting figure, and I was bumming drinks off everyone I knew."
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:24 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm a little surprised that there aren't any service academies on that list.

Starting salary will be the equivalent of just under $55,000 depending on where you live. After ten years ("mid-career") it's about $100,000-$120,000 counting whatever bonuses the military throws at you to stay in. For example, the Navy traditionally has a hard time retaining submarine officers.

I pulled those numbers from here.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 6:38 AM on August 10, 2009


This list uses the median salaries. Unlike averages, medians are resistant to being skewed by outliers.

Unless there are a lot of outliers.

Say, for instance the MeFi University School of Business has a median salary of $200,000 while, the School of Art has one of $15,000. If there are 1000 students between the two 501 in the business school and 499 in the art school, what is the median income for the university?

I pulled those numbers from here.

That is assuming they stay in the military rather than taking lucrative defense contractor positions.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:50 AM on August 10, 2009


My alma mater is in the bottom 50. But on the upside, I've already exceeded the mid-career median salary. The school I almost chose is in the bottom 10. Guess I dodged a bullet there.
posted by kimdog at 6:53 AM on August 10, 2009


That is assuming they stay in the military rather than taking lucrative defense contractor positions.

Good point. I'm a little shocked that I missed that.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2009


When I was in college, 1968-72, I only knew one guy (my freshman-year roommate) who had the slightest concern with what he would make after graduation. He was obsessed with it and kept talking about how he would make "a hundred thousand dollars a year!" (You have to understand that forty years ago that was a lot of money.) Everybody else thought he was weird. We all wanted to learn stuff, become more interesting people, change the world, and have fun.

This message has been brought to you by the International Get Off My Lawn Society.
posted by languagehat at 7:12 AM on August 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


You know, I was concerned we weren't taking the "market rules" mentality far enough. I mean, we already have all publicly traded businesses reduced to profit motive (or should I say stock price increase motive) and we've reduced large segments of the government to this mentality, but it's been bothering me that we haven't quite erased our very souls and replaced them with ticker tape machines.

Now that payscale, and for that matter Forbes have entered the college ranking market with a heavy emphasis on income, I can sit back and relax.
posted by Muddler at 7:14 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]



"Has," not "is." A lot of universities show up on the list twice — once for the engineering school, once for liberal arts.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:12 AM on August 10 [+] [!]


Stanford only shows up once, though. Interestingly, Duke, which has a much more distinct line between its engineering school and the rest of the population, is just listed as private. Cornell is separated into an engineering school and an Ivy League school -- that distinction is strange because Cornell has 'Statutory colleges' which have state funding, but none of those statutory colleges are engineering.

Anyway, what I'm saying is, that list is weird.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:14 AM on August 10, 2009


CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.


*Gathers enough people together who believe it does*
OK. NOW IT DOES.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:17 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I went to one of those schools and currently I make jack shit.
posted by jonmc at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2009


It's this sort of lack of critical thinking that leads people to go deeply in debt for an education. A university degree doesn't equal a large paycheck.

People who go to a two-year program for nursing, respiratory therapy or x-ray tech can make as much money as a university graduate, and can usually do it at a JC for next to nothing.

I'm seeing so many people crippled by debt and for absolutely no good reason.

Skills are what employers look for, not degrees.

For those of you who talk about the lofty goals of attending a university for the liberal arts education, that's all well and good if you can pay cash for it. It's insanity to get tens of thousands of dollars in debt for it.

I worked full-time and let my corporate employers pay for my degrees.

My B.A. is a Liberal Arts degree in English from a State School. I also have an M.B.A. from a private school. Mind expanding to be sure. I still maintain that the typing class I took in high school is the most tangible career skill I learned.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:49 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what serazin said above. Parents wealth is more important than educational achievement.
Chart. Article. Both are .pdf.
Best ROI by school in Public, Liberal Arts, and Ivy League schools. Grrrrslideshow.
posted by vapidave at 8:21 AM on August 10, 2009


Interesting that when you look at a more honest ROI figure, it's the state schools in the central states — the ones that don't appear in the gross salary table — that do the best. Those schools may not have the name recognition that the Ivies do, but their tuitions are more than low enough to compensate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2009


languagehat's experience isn't so different from mine, although I was in college from '84-88. Were there a lot of "Dude, I'm gonna go work for a consulting firm after graduation and the starting salary is $80K!" guys? Yes. (I never understood how a wet-behind-the-ears college grad would be attractive to a consulting firm—not that I've ever understood what consulting firms do—I mean, really, you want to ask a 22-year-old with virtually no work experience how to solve your corporate problems?) But even those guys appeared really engaged and interested in the classes I had with them (Golden Age of Spain; a seminar on early 20th century U.S. labor history; Victorian literature; etc.). Those of us who didn't care about, or weren't interested in, making a zillion dollars after graduation came from a range of familial financial circumstance, from broke-ass to "her parents are wealthy. No, really wealthy. Like, Rockefeller wealthy." As far as I can tell from Facebook, we're all doing things we love; some of those things have made some of us rich, or at least financially stable, and some haven't, but we all seem pretty happy about where we are in life.

But the more I read and hear about How College Is Today the more I understand how incredibly different it is from when I was in college just 20 years ago. My family was so broke that we couldn't have afforded the tuition at my state university, which offered me no financial aid. I got truckloads of aid offers from all the private liberal arts colleges I was accepted by, and Dartmouth gave me a nearly full ride in a combination of grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans. I graduated with debt, yes, but compared to today, the debt was a vanishingly small part of the whole four years' tuition, room and board.
posted by rtha at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2009


Yeah, what serazin said above. Parents wealth is more important than educational achievement.
Chart. Article. Both are .pdf.
Best ROI by school in Public, Liberal Arts, and Ivy League schools. Grrrrslideshow.
posted by vapidave at 4:21 PM on August 10 [+] [!]


That Chart, or rather Charts, show that, regardless of family income it is much better to go to college than not go to college.

So, combining paradux's links and vapiddave's links I get:

If you come from a poor family, it is totally worth it to go to college (vapidave's link)
Not only that, you should also try to get into the best college you can (paradux's link)

posted by vacapinta at 8:40 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


One other thing. My parents, who were divorced, couldn't contribute much towards tuition, but they were asked to contribute something. At the beginning of my junior year, my dad sent me a letter telling me that some stuff had happened, and he wouldn't be able to pay anything towards my tuition from then on.

I went to see my financial aid officer, who took one look at me and put the box of kleenex on his desk into my hands. I gave him the letter - I remember not really being able to talk, I was so scared - and he read it and then said "Don't worry. We're not going to let you go just because of some money." He did some fiddling with my aid package that made up for the amount my dad was supposed to pay, and I didn't have to leave college because of a lack of money. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been the case if I'd gone to UMass.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on August 10, 2009


Is that the point of education? To make as much money in a field you hate, or that bores you to the point of insanity? Because that's fucking crazy.


Exactly. If you don't enjoy your work you will go crazy somehow, burn out, drink, have affairs, something. All that angst has to go somewhere. I am sure that these schools near the top of the list have turned out a lot of grads who went on to be doctors and lawyers. Some of those jobs are great and fun, but many are stressful pressure cookers, especially the ones with the big bucks. You can make a million dollars a year as a partner in a law firm, but trust me you will pay for it with blood.
posted by caddis at 8:56 AM on August 10, 2009


University!
I graduated from a top-20 university
Thought I'd do well to major in chemistry
But the engineers earn three times more money
Three times more money
posted by homuncula at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2009


Sung to the tune of Hugh Laurie's Mystery, natch.
posted by homuncula at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm the laziest motherfucker on God's green earth, and a high school and college dropout to boot, and I make more at 35 than all but the biggest number on that list. YAY BELL CURVES!

Flagged as I Hate You.
posted by kittyprecious at 9:17 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't enjoy your work you will go crazy somehow, burn out, drink, have affairs, something. All that angst has to go somewhere.

My angst all goes to Metafilter.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would argue that how much money you make is not the point of education, nor is it what really matters when ranking universities.

Do so few of us value intellectual development, learning, and being able to use your skills successfully to make the world a better place? Who cares what you earn; you can still be a terrible citizen (e.g. our last president) who is utterly ignorant of basic logic, basic reason, scientific facts that describe the limits, abilities, and weaknesses of organisms and the limits, abilities, weaknesses, and events on Earth and the scope of our existence, how our society has been shaped in the last 200 years and how our world has grown in the last 100 millennia, and basic knowledge of what it is to exist in our own universe on our own planet.

Shit, I'd work on half the salary that a neurobiology professor currently makes if it meant I could still use my skills to do work that increases the amount of knowledge that we have, passes it on to the next generation, benefits the world, and is mentally stimulating and fun and constructive.
posted by kldickson at 9:21 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Important note: these numbers are only for graduates with no higher degrees. That is, no doctors, lawyers, MBAs or academics. This alone explains why the engineering schools do well. Engineering is one of the few disciplines that give you direct career skills / knowledge at the undergraduate level.

As far as I can tell, there is no equivalent survey for the "worth" of post-graduate degreees. Nor can we combine the two to find out, for instance, whether philosophy students who went on to get law degrees do better than engineer grads who get an MBA.
posted by bumpkin at 9:39 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”
-Frank Zappa
posted by rocket88 at 9:41 AM on August 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Given that UIUC shows up under "Party schools"...I'd have to say that list is a total joke.

Also, $100,000 is a lot of money in Iowa, but not a lot in LA. Cost of living may be much more correlated with salary than school quality.
posted by miyabo at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2009


I graduated with debt, yes, but compared to today, the debt was a vanishingly small part of the whole four years' tuition, room and board.

No shit. I went to Virginia Tech 1978-1982. As I was cleaning out my attic not too long ago I came across a receipt from my first year at Tech. Tuition for a quarter ( we were on quarters, not semesters) was $490.00 ($1,960/yr.). Of course, that doesn't include room, board,books, etc. But still. In-state tuition is now like 16 grand.

I agree with the others who say salary is a pretty stupid metric for college efficacy. I had an excellent education, but I've certainly done my part to pull Virginia Tech's earnings averages waaaaaaay down.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:11 AM on August 10, 2009


I never understood how a wet-behind-the-ears college grad would be attractive to a consulting firm—not that I've ever understood what consulting firms do

That's OK. The consulting firms don't, either.

Actually, maybe they do—as long as it's "charging far too much to send buzzword-happy twentysomethings to visit you for a week or two."
posted by oaf at 10:40 AM on August 10, 2009


vacapinta I agree, and should have added this anecdote:

When I was 19 I borrowed $200 dollars from my dad and went to Alaska for an adventure and because there was work to be had. I got a job stacking 110 pound boxes of salmon in a freezer. Everyone in Alaska is a character. One of my fellow $5.85 box-stackers was a lurchy guy from Kansas. BSing with him I found out he had an MA of Literature of some sort. I asked him why the hell he had gotten an advanced degree if he was going to stack boxes. He answered "Because it makes my mind a better place to be in my spare time."
posted by vapidave at 10:51 AM on August 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


I never understood how a wet-behind-the-ears college grad would be attractive to a consulting firm

The way most shops work is, basically, those twentysomething "warm bodies" are used to pad out the payroll. Most clients won't pay $1000/hr for one guy no matter how good he is, but they'll pay $300/hr for that same guy plus $175/hr each for four polite college graduates who know just enough to not embarrass themselves or their employer.

Essentially, the four 'junior consultants' (the nomenclature varies from one firm to another) serve as assistants, doing odd jobs and hopefully learning enough so that they can run the show in a few years once they have a decent resume. The client might not really want them, but they're in essence part of a package deal.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:37 AM on August 10, 2009




First off, what's this "Party School" designation?

As for "those schools," I went to one and I challenge anyone who ever attended a dinner at the Harvard Lampoon to deny that my said alma mater does not qualify as a "party school." Okay, so maybe the football team was kind of a joke and I was in my mid-twenties before I knew what a "tail-gate" party was, but people from New York tend to be extremely provincial.

In a realm close to "my parents went to [insert vacation spot here] and all I got was this stupid t-shirt," I was "admitted" to Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and I have the bonus "certificates" to prove it. Their letters of admission back in 1979 included a frameable (?) document proving their decision in your favor. I still have them (unframed) somewhere, along with a letter from Vassar that I received in January that same year saying something along the lines of: "We know you're holding out to see if the big three will have you, but just in case, we're here . . ."

And here I was watching Noah Baumbach's "Kicking and Screaming" just yesterday (at my husband's behest--he who managed to go to three schools and never graduate) wondering huh,
I maybe was much better suited for Poughkeepsie. See, you never know. I received no guidance in choosing where to go. I was sixteen applying to colleges, from what was then the Cousin Bette of the Manhattan private girls' schools, Nightingale-Bamford. Yeah, I know some
dumb teevee show has put it on the map, but when I went there it was truly a bastion of relentless hardcore education, and the skirts we had to wear were way longer, believe me. Not to mention the mandatory three years of Latin.

And circling back to the beginning here, no, I did not got to Wall Street with the other liberal arts
(History and Literature, actually") upon graduation and make scads of money "doing LBOs"; not because I was self-righteous but because I was still curious and naive enough to think that learning things was kind of a life-long pursuit. And in all fairness to those who have discussed the salient issues of school loans and debt, for the sake of full disclosure: I graduated without a penny or a job, but also without debt. Not because my parents were rich, but because they were intensely frugal all my life and Harvard did give me some aid, first year anyway.

I never thought of education as a meal-ticket and I still don't. When my children were little and
in my homeschooling years (secular, for the record) and the H-word, as some would say, came up in conversation, inevitably this question was asked of me: "You went to Harvard?! What are you doing wasting your education, cooking and cleaning and camping and running around to beaches and museums with your kids and sundry other people's?"

I did not reply with the FY on the tip of my tongue, no, much of the time I am almost polite.

But I did say "I make use of my education every moment of every day. And I am grateful to have been afforded it."

And yes, I went to one of those schools and currently I make jack shit but everybody knows mothers and teachers are never remunerated in any way commensurate to the work we do.

Let's not even get started on the concept of "labor of love."
posted by emhutchinson at 12:11 PM on August 10, 2009


I would like to apologize to the University of North Carolina for single-handedly dragging down its rating.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:19 PM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


... kept talking about how he would make "a hundred thousand dollars a year!" (You have to understand that forty years ago that was a lot of money.)

$100,000 still is a lot of money. Median household income in the U.S. in 2007 was about $50,000 - with median incomes for individuals working full-time being in the $40,000s for men, and the $30,000s for women.
posted by jb at 2:23 PM on August 10, 2009


> $100,000 still is a lot of money.

Oh, for Pete's sake. Yes, yes, I didn't mean it was an insignificant sum that people now light their cigars with, I meant that back then not many people made that much and it was a sign of real riches. The same kind of guy now would say he wanted to make eight figures.
posted by languagehat at 2:38 PM on August 10, 2009


Damn! I knew I should have gone to Colorado School of Mines!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:07 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


lh - sorry, I just thought the conversation in general needed some statistical perspective. You clearly meant that "forty years ago that was an insane amount of money," whereas now it is just a great deal of money.
posted by jb at 4:55 PM on August 10, 2009


It's good to know that Ivy Leaguers are chumps who overpaid.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 6:21 PM on August 10, 2009


Hah! My alma mater, a private school that regularly touts its U.S. News and World Report ranking, is somewhere below University of North Dakota and just above Abilene Christian University.

And I've never made anywhere near the mid-career median income associated with my school, but that's my fault for going into print journalism.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:22 PM on August 10, 2009


It's good to know that Ivy Leaguers are chumps who overpaid.

Perhaps you hadn't heard of need-based financial aid, but now you have.
posted by oaf at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, what?

University of Georgia (UGA)
Party Schools
$43,900
$81,500

University of Georgia (UGA)
State Schools
$43,900
$81,500


(not my school, just really close to mine on that last link)
posted by rubah at 10:35 PM on August 10, 2009


Damn! I knew I should have gone to Colorado School of Mines!

I wonder how many people get it mixed up with the Colorado School of Mimes?

I can see them now deep underground in their black tights with their little imaginary picks, oh no, is that a cave in? See look, the imaginary glass ceiling is falling in on me!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:11 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flagged as I Hate You.

Hey, nobody's more surprised than me. My life feels like the script of Office Space:

"Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late. I use the side door, that way Lumbergh can't see me. Uh, and after that, I just sorta space out for about an hour. Yeah. I just stare at my desk but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too. I'd probably, say, in a given week, I probably do about fifteen minutes of real, actual work."

(later)

"Uh, we should move on to obiwanwasabi. I had a chance to meet this young man and boy does he have Straight to Upper Management written all over him."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:25 PM on August 11, 2009


Wait a second -- Stanford's an engineering school? I mean, that's what I went there for, but that probably would have come as a vast surprise to most everybody else.

"Has," not "is."


And Dartmouth "has" an "Ivy League" school? The "School Type" is a descriptor. And pretty random. The only schools that show up twice are "State Schools" and I have no idea why, because the data is the same as their other "Engineering" "Liberal Arts" or "Private" schools.

I don't trust this list at all. The starting median salary is ridiculous. No way.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:12 PM on August 11, 2009


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