Posted January 14, 2020 by

What’s right and wrong about college rankings, such as those by U.S. News and World Report?

College rankings tend to be beauty contests based upon the strength of the school’s brand.

Students who want to attend the “best” school are typically interested in finding the school that will lead to the greatest likelihood that they’ll find a well-paying job in their chosen career path and desired geographic area. That data is typically held by the career service offices, not admissions, and certainly not well communicated in a short, summary of the school as published by U.S. News & World Report or any other publication.

But let’s leave aside, for the moment, the issue of which office within a given university has the best access to outcomes data. One example of such data is the percentage who are employed within six months and within their chosen career path. Another is the average starting salary, and that’s typically broken down by career path.

But are either of those metrics even a valid measure of the quality of a school? The data indicates no. What is now clear from a more scientific analysis of outcomes data is that the primary driving factor behind employability and compensation is the background of the candidate, not which school that candidate attended. If you come from a well-connected, white, family who lives in a wealthy suburb near New York City, you’re almost certainly going to emerge from whatever school you attend making a lot more money than if you’re part of a poorly connected, Native American, family who lives in an impoverished, rural area.

Now, that’s not to say that the more privileged candidate can do nothing and graduate into a fantastic job making fantastic money. But it does say that candidates shouldn’t fret as much about which school they attend based upon the data that the schools tend to release. Instead, they should look for schools which add the most value to their graduates.

A few years ago, College Recruiter created its Hidden Gem Index for the best colleges and universities for employers who want to hire high-quality graduates during the normally very difficult spring hiring period. If you’re a candidate who wisely wants to attend a low cost school that adds tremendous value to its students, have a look at the Hidden Gem Index.

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Applying, Awards and Recognition, Career Advice, Career Service Offices, Choosing a School, Economic Indicators, Metrics, Research, Salaries and Compensation, Tuesday Tip | Tagged