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College Return on Investment (ROI) for 2014

College Return on Investment (ROI) for 2014 - RF CafeProfessors and executive staff at top colleges get paid lots of $$$ for their services. Add to that über generous retirement and benefits packages, the high cost of administering a plethora of social programs and politically correct courses, guest lecturers, and '<insert worthless topic> Studies' degrees, and expected donations to various popular causes. Throw in a prestigious brand name and maybe a sports team and the cost of actually getting an education can be really, really expensive. Many studies have shown that for the vast majority of people, the college that issues your diploma has almost no bearing on earnings after a few years of experience is gained. It does often matter, however, when you are seeking your first 'real' job after graduation. That is partly because high-paying companies recruit most aggressively at the well-known schools and partly because of loyalty to the alma matter by hiring managers who snobbishly prefer duly christened brethren (and sistren).

The good folks at PayScale.com recently published the results of a study done to determine what the typical return on investment (ROI) is for various colleges (1,312 sampled). The full report is available on the PayScale.com website, but here I cull data that applies to engineering schools. Harvey Mudd College consistently ranks at or near the top every year. Have you ever met an engineer that graduated from Harvey Mudd College? I haven't, that I know of.

Starting salary numbers are averaged across all disciplines, but of course truly useful degrees like engineering, science, business, and medicine are typically considerably higher. Data on specific degrees is available. The dismal 20-year ROI for degrees in Frisbee, <insert worthless topic> Studies, and 2nd Century Gothic Art must factor in eventual careers as burger flippers McDonalds or greeters at Walmart. Colorado School of Mines must have a particularly tough curriculum based on its graduation a rate of only 67%. It will be interesting to see how that number changes in 2018 with a full graduating class of stoners. NYU-Poly only has a 62% graduation rate; what's up with them?


Rank School Name Tuition

Cost ($k)


Salary ($k)


ROI (%)


Rate (%)

1 Harvey Mudd College 230 73.3 8.8 88
2 California Institute of Technology (CalTech) 220 68.4 8.3 92
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 223 68.6 8.4 93
4 Stanford University 236 61.3 7.8 95
5 Colorado School of Mines 114 66.7 11 67
6 Georgia Institute of Technology 92.3 60.7 12 79
7 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 217 65.1 7.8 76
8 Polytechnic Institute of New York (NYU-Poly) 224 60.7 7.7 62
13 Princeton University (U. of Einstein) 217 56.1 7.6 96
22 University of California - Berkely 134 54.7 9.4 91
23 Harvard University 226 55.3 7.2 97
30 Brown University 228 52.3 7.0 95
34 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 234 61.0 6.7 84
47 Cornell University (U. of Sagan) 228 57.0 6.6 93
339 University of Vermont (U. of Blattenberger) 111 44.0 7.0 76




Posted  May 28, 2014

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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