Sept. 20, 2012 -- Graduate from Harvard, and Aunt Bessie will be impressed. Graduate from Loma Linda University, and you'll get a better-paying job. According to PayScale, which tracks college graduates' starting median salaries, the latest crop of Harvard grads will earn $54,100; those from Loma Linda, $64,600.
Harvard's tuition and fees are $40,866; Loma Linda's $29,096.
Asked by ABC News to look for colleges whose new graduates earn more than Harvard's, PayScale came up with a surprising list of 12 schools. Forget Princeton. Forget Yale. Tell your son or daughter to throw away the leather elbow-patches and to forget the ivy. What they want is a nice maritime academy or school of mines.
According to the list below, graduates of the Colorado School of Mines earn a starting median salary of $63,400. And they didn't have to dig themselves into a hole to get it: The cost of tuition and fees is only $17,718 for in-staters; $32,748 for out-of-staters. Sure, maybe they'll have to wield a pickaxe now and then, but, after work, they'll be the ones graciously picking up the tab for Harvard grads who forgot to wire home for money.
Graduates of the State of New York Maritime College in Throggs Neck, New York, may get awfully tired of having to explain what a Neck is; but they'll be compensated by a salty starting salary of $57,300. Even more so than the School of Mines, the Maritime College is a steal for in-staters ($6,782), and only somewhat less so for out-of-staters ($16,032).
PayScale has been producing its ranking annually for the past eight years. Lead economist Katie Bardaro says colleges that rank the highest tend to be those that concentrate on engineering, nursing and health sciences.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), for instance, stands out she says because it concentrates on computer engineering. In today's world, that's a good thing on which to concentrate: "There's lots of opportunity, and new graduates are paid very well. It's not as tough a market as some others"—e.g., 18th Century organ music.
Bardaro allows as how some of the schools listed here charge stiff tuitions. Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York, charges $3,600 more than Harvard. But the cost, thinks Bardaro, is more than justified by graduates' higher salaries.
The list below gives each school's name and location, followed by its graduates' median starting and how much they paid for tuition and fees. The cost figures come from U.S. News' annual college ranking.
1. Loma Linda UniversityLoma Linda, CA$64,600 ($29,096)
2. Harvey Mudd CollegeClaremont, CA$64,400 ($44,442)
3. Molloy CollegeRockville Center, NY$64,000 ($24,420)
4. Colorado School of MinesGolden, CO$63,400 ($17,718 in-state/ $32,748 out-)
5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)Worcester, MA$61,200 ($41,380)
6. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT)Terre Haute, IN$60,700 ($39,078)
7. Thomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$59,800 ($32,159)
8. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)Troy, NY$59,500 ($44,475)
9. Felician CollegeLodi, NJ$58,700 ($29,400)
10. Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST)Rolla, MO$58,600 ($9,350 in-state/ $32,666 out-)
11. Clarkson UniversityPotsdam, NY$57,900 ($38,610)
12. State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime CollegeThroggs Neck, NY$57,300 ($6,782 in-state/ $16,032 out)