School ratings are a bit odd. No one can really say how they’re put together, and yet we all take them very seriously, with droves of students each year struggling to get into the highest-ranked colleges and universities. But you, dear reader, are in luck — because you know something they don’t. You know that there are five schools which, despite relatively low rankings, produce graduates who out-earn those from more highly-ranked schools.
Or at least, you will know them in just a minute. Please, read on.
#1 – DePaul University
With five campuses sprinkled throughout Chicago, DePaul produces students who earn a mid-career salary of $84,500. Plus, 85% of 2013 grads were employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. Impressive, no? What’s more, DePaul has strong academics, with business and digital media topping the list of most popular subjects.
#2 – University of Illinois at Chicago
There is a hidden perk to being a graduate of this school. Not only are salaries strong, at $86,800 per year for mid-career graduates, but UIC’s alumni network is the largest in the country — and includes plenty of prominent businesspeople, such as Cary Kochman, John Cox and Risa Stack. This means a vast network of connections and job opportunities are just a friendly phone call (or email, or handshake) away.
#3 – University of St. Thomas
One of the biggest features of this University is not its location in the Midwest, but its locations in 45 countries worldwide. St. Thomas’ study abroad program, boasting almost 150 courses of study, is an excellent complement to the University’s 90 or so degrees offered at home.
#4 – Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University has a number of things going for it. For one, it has an excellent service program, which can help not just to expose students to a different type of education, but also to develop civic-mindedness. Academically, the University has 56 majors and 73 minors available as options to its students. Between all of this, Northern Illinois is a solid choice for school by any measure.
#5 – Central College
This school has some impressive numbers behind it. First, it’s a big school for internships: over 76% of students complete some form of internship before graduation. Second, within a year of graduation, all graduates are either employed, in grad school, or in some sort of sustained service. And, to top it off, grads have a mid-career salary average of $85,100.
So, there you have it. Sure, some of the top-rated schools have a sort of brand appeal going for them — people might be impressed if you drop a name like Harvard, or Brown, or Yale at a party. But if employers recognize the worth of these schools, and if you have a good experience, why pay all the extra money — and go through the extra hassle — of getting into a Big Name School? And these five schools are just the tip of the iceberg — if none of them suit you, you can always keep for universities that offer more bang for your buck.