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Ranking the 50 most ‘underrated’ colleges in the U.S.

Sep 2

By Calley Hair, Washington State University February 10, 2015 11:00 am

A recent article from Business Insider (BI) magazine compiled the 50 most underrated colleges in the country, and found that graduates from some lesser known colleges earn salaries on par with esteemed institutions like Princeton and Yale.

They arrived at the list by comparing “US News’ rankings of the best universities and national liberal arts colleges in the country with PayScale’s 2013-2014 College Salary Report, which ranks colleges and universities based on their graduates’ mid-career salaries.” The most underrated schools were those which ranked low on the US News list, but led to higher salaries later on.

“We noticed that a lot of lesser-known tech schools made this list,” said Jennifer Polland, editor of the lists and rankings section at BI. “This makes sense considering that graduates of tech schools tend to go on to make a lot of money.”

Topping the list is the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), which ranked 149th on the US News list. According to Business Insider, the average mid-career salary of NJIT graduates is $98,000. Additionally, 56% of students are already employed by the time they graduate, a figure 26% higher than the national average.

Rounding out the top five are the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Florida Institute of Technology, University of Houston, and Missouri University of Science and Technology, respectively.

Of the top five colleges on the list, three are tech-focused —  and all are known for their STEM programs.

“These majors are among the most challenging disciplines, and are being taught by an excellent faculty,” Bloom said.

While lists and rankings serve to provide prospective students with a general framework from which to start their search, they aren’t necessarily the best way to make a final decision.

 “Rankings measure specific criteria, and if a school doesn’t rank highly in a certain category, it may not make a list — but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad school. It’s just difficult for rankings to encompass every aspect of a college education,” Polland said.

Polland said the Business Insider team put together the list to highlight schools that may not get much attention in traditional rankings, but still prepare students for successful careers.

“It’s difficult to measure the quality of a school because every student is different and wants different things from college,” Polland said. “It’s such a personal choice, so I think the best way for students to find the right colleges is to do their research, visit the schools and see which one feels right for them.”

Here is Business Insider’s countdown of the top 25 most underrated colleges. See the full list here.

25. Utah State University
24. Seton Hall University
23. Colorado School of Mines
22. Stevens Institute of Technology
21. Catholic University of America
19 (TIE). Rutgers University — New Brunswick campus
19 (TIE). William Jewell College
16 (TIE). University of Illinois at Chicago
16 (TIE). George Mason University
16 (TIE). Pace University
15. Michigan Technological University
14. St. John’s University
13. Hartwick College
12. Illinois Institute of Technology
11. University of the Pacific
10. University of Alabama at Huntsville
9. Clarkson University
8. Louisiana Tech University
7. Widener University
6. Hofstra University
5. Missouri University of Science & Technology
4. University of Houston
3. Florida Institute of Technology
2. University of Massachusetts at Lowell
1. New Jersey Institute of Technology

Calley Hair is a student at Washington State University and a spring 2015 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.


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