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CMU, Pitt Among Colleges Ranked By Brookings For How Well They Prep Students For High-Paying Jobs

A report released this week by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program examined how well alumni of four- and two-year higher education institutions fare after school.

The study looks at predicted outcomes for students and compares actual outcomes. It’s an area not often looked at, according to researchers at Brookings. This report compiled its data looking at three main areas: mid-career salary of alumni, repayment rate on student loans and common careers among alumni.

“What we see is that a colleges mix of majors and the scale it provides students are highly predictive of economic outcomes of its graduates,” said Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rockwell, co-author of the study.

Among Pittsburgh-area universities, CMU came out on top with a score of 95 out of 100 for curriculum value and a 97 for earnings.

“Ninety-seven means that it’s better than 96 percent of all other colleges on the value added in respect to earnings, same on occupational earning power and it’s actually in the top 1 percent, has a score of 100 in respect to loan repayment,” Rockwell said.

The University of Pittsburgh scored a 67, 72 and 74 in the above categories and a 90 for curriculum value. In that same category, Duquesne University scored 76 and Point Park 29; Community College of Allegheny County scored a 72. Diversity of curriculum, however, is not the only thing to consider in looking at predicted and actual student outcomes – there is also what is called the x-factor.

“It could be things like the quality of the teaching staff, could be strong alumni networks,” said Rockwell. “For example, a recent article suggested that Apple hires a disproportionate number of Duke MBA grads because Tim Cook went to Duke. Those sorts of factors are rolled into what we call the x-factor.”

Plus, Rockwell said different majors and offerings at each school attracts different types of students.

“The predicted level of student earnings is higher at Carnegie Mellon than it would be for University of Pittsburgh or Duquesne because of the students going into those types of schools,” he said.

There are many studies and ranking of colleges and universities in the U.S., according to Rockwell, but this is offers something a bit unique. He said it could help prospective students and their families when choosing a school, and could also be helpful for college administrators and state and local workforce development officials.

“We think this offers an improved way to evaluate colleges, learn which strategies are working and which are not in terms of boosting attainment rates or otherwise contributing to student economic success,” said Rockwell.

The full report is available on the Brookings website.