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Payscale 2013 rankings

LakeCloudsLakeClouds Posts: 49Registered Users
The latest ROI results are in from payscale.com. Topping the list is Harvey Mudd College. Are there any surprises in the top-10?


College Education Value Rankings - PayScale 2013 College ROI Report
Post edited by LakeClouds on
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Replies to: Payscale 2013 rankings

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    1-9, 11-12, 15-17, 20: schools heavy with engineering and CS majors
    10: moderately heavy with engineering and CS majors, close to Silicon Valley, and prestigious enough for investment banking and management consulting recruiting
    13: the only oddity here
    14, 19: prestigious enough for investment banking and management consulting recruiting
    18: moderately heavy with engineering and business majors, in Silicon Valley

    I.e. the only real surprise is #13, Claremont McKenna College, which does not have a heavy concentration of majors whose graduates have high pay prospects, and is probably not an investment banking or management consulting recruiting target.

    PayScale could make itself a lot more useful if it would make available listings stratified by college and major, instead of just college or major. For example, if a student is interested in majoring in mechanical engineering, how do graduates of various schools compare in that major? Same for if the student were interested in majoring in biology, or English literature, or psychology. As it is now, their college rankings tend to be heavily influenced by the mix of majors at each college.
  • LakeCloudsLakeClouds Posts: 49Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Claremont McKenna College, which does not have a heavy concentration of majors whose graduates have high pay prospects

    CMC has a computer science program and econ program that are pretty strong. According to the list below, MBB and top banking firms recruit as well.

    Recent On-Campus Recruiters
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Claremont McKenna College's common data set indicates 0.31% computer science majors and 43.73% social science majors. Unfortunately, common data set categories do not break down social science majors (except psychology which is its own category), so economics is presumably part of (perhaps a large part of) that 43.73%.

    But the presence of investment banking and management consulting recruiting may explain its position.

    That means that there are no real surprises at the top of the list. But it also means that the student who majors in biology should not automatically assume a high financial return just because s/he goes to Harvey Mudd or other school rated high in this list.
  • drax12drax12 Posts: 18Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    UCBalumnus, there's no doubt that Payscale has variation of salaries correct wrt geography and wrt the u's that are more tech oriented. In other words on a macro scale, things at this site might be portrayed decently well, as places in the northeast and in Silicon will mete out higher salaries than other areas for similar types and levels of employment, and certainly, tech schools would have higher salary levels for baccalaureate holders than for LAC’s. But for this service/site to claim median-salary accuracy wrt specificity (English guy from Inception: "Speci ... what?") of u is impossibly erroneous. And adding an extra measure of ROI to a specific u's education will only cause an even larger propagation of garbage because of the assumption of level tuition for all graduates of a specific u.

    Let's go over the problems with Payscale:

    1. The collection of payroll data is not scientific, and could not remotely qualify as an adequate sample size of a u's baccalaureate-to-professions mix.

    Payscale passively relies on responders to take its surveys and collects the data to form various median salaries by specific u. In order to portray a more accurate median salary for a u within all forms of employment represented by its graduates, the service would have to have access to a u's entire bac-earning database and strategize to sample a u's pool of graduates based on various demographics and major. To do so for the thousands of u’s for which Payscale claims accuracy in median salaries would take a large data-gathering group that would have to be beyond the scope of this company.

    There has to be certainly a questioning of accuracy of salaries reported by responders also, and whether they are indeed graduates of the u's they state. If the graduate's u is stated correctly, could he/she be more inclined to overstate his/her salary for more prestigious u’s?

    And by the way it passively collects data, it would have to understate under or unemployment of a u's database, so median salaries have to be overstated for all.

    2. Most graduates of top u's attend grad school.

    The survey is admirably trying to see how a u's brandname is received in the employment marketplace, as a stand-alone measure without one's grad school’s effect upon one's employment. However, by eliminating those who obtain graduate degrees, it eliminates the higher-level of grads of most higher-ranked u's. UCLA for instance has > 2/3's of its graduates who receive post-bac degrees. For the Ivies, the %'s are even higher.

    So those tech schools who don't send a lot or as many students to grad school would fare better in the survey. This is why CPSLO places well in the survey. This is why UCI, SD, SB’s specifically fare better in Payscale than UCLA, because UCLA is perhaps the most preprofessional of all the UC’s wrt sending its bac earners to L, B, and M school. Many more of the UC’s I mentioned are less professional-school minded and maybe even less grad-school minded in general. Compound this with whether passive data-gathering can represent a u's entire bac-earning database, and one can see the site reporting of u's salaries is essentially garbage. It doesn't appear to be an employment placing site, so it must be more of an economic survey with its salary reportage as a hook to bring people in and for it to gain publicity. It's amazing to me how gullible some sites are, which report Payscale as gospel. And the two things I listed is just a whole laundry-list of things wrong with its reporting.
  • drax12drax12 Posts: 18Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Just to add to my previous post:

    There's no doubt that UCLA is much more preprofessionally inclined than seven of the other UC's, and there is a question whether it is more so than Berk, related to l, m (or more generally in the health field), and b. Between Berk and UCLA, if one or the either is more inclined to sending students to grad professional school it wouldn't be by much more than a small amount.

    In CA, the atty nos. are pretty close, though UCLA has more nos. Both have fairly similar nos. in applying to m-school, both at the top in the nation in pure nos. I would think that a UCLA grad might be more inclined to attend dental or pharmacy school, partly because it has the former, whereas a Berk grad might be more inclined to a PHD route in a life science than these two listed professions.

    Non-professionally speaking, I would think that Berk grads are more inclined to PHD's, as noted in the STEM bac to PHD conversions in the sciences -- Berk is no. 1 and UCLA is top-ten, again in pure nos., but also in the social sciences and the humanities.

    So my main point is that both have a good % of bac grads who are disqualified from the Payscale survey of u's median salaries, much more than the other UC's.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    You should bring up your point to the PayScale boosters (who apparently like it because it ranks their favorite schools highly) who seem to show up on these forums every so often. I don't consider PayScale to be too useful because the varying mix of majors at the schools obscures any potentially interesting information that PayScale could possibly compare between the schools.
  • circuitridercircuitrider Posts: 14Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Claremont McKenna College's common data set indicates 0.31% computer science majors and 43.73% social science majors. Unfortunately, common data set categories do not break down social science majors (except psychology which is its own category), so economics is presumably part of (perhaps a large part of) that 43.73%.

    I think about a third of CMC graduates are either finance or accounting majors
    Robert Day School
  • askjeevesaskjeeves Posts: 2Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2013/methodology
    Bachelor's Only: Only employees who possess a bachelor's degree and no higher degrees are included. This means bachelor's degree graduates who go on to earn a master's degree, M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., or other advanced degree are not included.

    For some highly selective schools, graduates with degrees higher than a bachelor's degree can represent a significant fraction of all graduates.

    Careers that require advanced degrees, such as law or medicine, are not included. Also, we explicitly exclude majors that are no longer bachelor's level degrees (e.g. pharmacy).

    Sorry but reading this makes me wonder if I am suppose to take it seriously. I.e. 20% of UPenn's graduating class attend graduate school right upon graduation. Factor in additional students who attend graduate school 3-5 years later and this becomes an even more significant number.
  • GoBlue81GoBlue81 Posts: 7Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    It's not just graduate/professional schools; you also have to be a regular "employee" to be counted.
  • beyphybeyphy Posts: 10Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Many of the posters on this forum would excluded from this ranking since most have advanced degrees, or are in the process of getting them. It probably also excludes students who earn a bachelors and masters in five years from their undergrad. schools
  • rhg3rdrhg3rd Posts: 27Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Not a credible source for LAC's:

    Hamilton 66
    Whitman 155
    Bowdoin 691
    Davidson 870
    Reed 1131
    Colorado 1159
  • circuitridercircuitrider Posts: 14Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    ^^It also begs the question, what if no graduates of a particular college are looking for new jobs. They sort of get penalized for not being under-employed. :/
  • LakeCloudsLakeClouds Posts: 49Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    To do so for the thousands of u’s for which Payscale claims accuracy in median salaries would take a large data-gathering group that would have to be beyond the scope of this company

    Good luck getting schools to give you this data, especially those that know they would not rank so well. The good thing about the Payscale survey is it does distinguish schools that provide marketable majors from those that don't. Many so-called top-schools offer an amazing number of non-marketable majors that then force students into grad school in hopes they will get some sort of employment down the line. In many cases these students just wind up with a PhD and still no gainful employment.

    Do the detractors have a better dataset?
  • askjeevesaskjeeves Posts: 2Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Do the detractors have a better dataset?

    No but this one still sucks. I'd rather just go by career survey reports provided by schools. Unfortunately some are not as comprehensive as others.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    LakeClouds wrote:
    The good thing about the Payscale survey is it does distinguish schools that provide marketable majors from those that don't.

    Two schools may offer a similar set of majors and teach them with equal quality, but if the students choose the majors in different proportions, their PayScale ratings will differ.

    As noted above, if you go to Harvey Mudd but major in biology, you are less likely than most other Harvey Mudd students to find good job prospects at graduation.
    LakeClouds wrote:
    Do the detractors have a better dataset?

    If PayScale would allow stratifying by college and major rather than college or major, its information would be much more useful, despite the limitations of its methodology. As it is now, whatever hints it can provide about the school are obscured by the uncontrolled varying mix of majors at the various schools.
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