Wall Street Journal Names Molloy One of Nation's Top Added Value Colleges

The Colleges That Offer the Best Financial Futures

In the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, these schools' graduates are ahead in the end

September 5, 2018 - The Wall Street Journal

By  Douglas Belkin

A national survey of college freshmen spanning half a century offers this broad takeaway: A generation ago, students attended college to search for meaning and find themselves. Today, they enroll with the aim of landing a good job after graduation and making money.

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings take this pragmatic view into account and weigh financial outcomes as the most important factor in the overall ranking.

Outcomes scores are derived from graduation rates, income after graduation, debt repayment and academic reputation. The outcomes evaluation is 40% of a school's total score.

With their rarefied social networks, door-opening reputations and top-flight academics, it isn't surprising that the schools with top outcomes are all brand-name institutions. Yale University, Harvard University and Duke University tied for the top spot, with Princeton University at No. 4 and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University tied at No. 5. The California Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College, tied at No. 7, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania round out the top 10.

Less predictable and perhaps more revealing is the value-added measure of salaries, which is rolled into outcomes. Added value was calculated by comparing predicted salaries–based on factors including students' SAT scores and family income and an institution's population of first-generation college students–to the actual outcomes for graduates 10 years after enrollment. We used a Brookings Institution analysis of value-added college outcomes as a guide on this measure, recognizing that high graduate salaries alone don't indicate school success.

Only six of the top 30 schools overall–Harvard, Duke, Yale, Georgetown University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Southern California–finished in the top 50 in financial added value. Instead, the list was dominated by schools that offer specialized education in fields like medicine, aeronautics and design.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University–whose Prescott, Ariz., campus, ranked No. 250 overall, and Daytona Beach, Fla., campus, No. 207 overall, tied for 19th in added value–and the ArtCenter College of Design in California, 129th overall and 11th in added value, fared exceptionally well. At the very top of the added-value list is the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, No. 266 overall, followed by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, No. 282 overall. Graduates at ACPHS earn an average of $117,333 10 years after enrollment based on the average of multiple years of data, nearly $30,000 more than predicted-and nearly $43,000 more than graduates from Yale.

"If you look at an Ivy League school you probably have a pretty well-heeled group of legacy families coming through," says Greg Dewey, president of ACPHS. "We have a lot of rural middle-class kids, and some of them are making a big jump" in terms of income.

Molloy University in Rockville Centre, N.Y. is ranked 209th overall, but 18th in added value with an average salary of $56,967–more than $10,000 more than predicted.

That's no accident, says Molloy's president, Drew Bogner. The college's programs, instruction and even the campus culture are designed to help students succeed in the world of work before and after graduation. Nursing, business and education top the list of most popular majors.

Dr. Bogner says students are encouraged to work during the school year. At least one internship is required, but three are encouraged, starting after freshman year.

If there is a "special sauce," Dr. Bogner says, it's that students choose to attend Molloy because they know "this is where you come to get a practical, realistic education that will prepare you for success in the world."

On the other end of the spectrum are highly regarded schools that fared poorly in financial added value.

For example, Bryn Mawr College, a private women's liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, was ranked No. 50 overall but 379th for financial added value. "We tend to attract students who are really committed to social justice and to lives of purpose that involve deep social commitment," says Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy. "That isn't always the most lucrative pathway."

Mr. Belkin is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Chicago.

Appeared in the September 6, 2018, print edition as 'Who's Ahead in the End.'

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