A bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology will do more to maximize your midcareer earnings than a bachelor's degree from anywhere else. A degree from Worcester Polytechnic is the best way to enter a high-paying field. Want to pay off your student loans fast? Try Brigham Young University.
A new report from the Brookings Institution tries to quantify the boost in earnings graduates gain from their alma maters. Researchers didn't create a single ranking—sorry, rankings fans—but rather explored three ways to assess the value of a degree.
As a college degree has become more essential and more expensive, there has been an explosion of rankings that focus on how students fare after they graduate. Even the Obama administration is looking to evaluate colleges based on factors like graduation rate, average level of student debt, and postgraduate earnings.
Right now, most popular rankings—like U.S. News and World Report's "Best Colleges"—don't adjust to account for student characteristics. "That really biases the results," says Jonathan Rothwell, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and a lead author of the report.