With big help from the indefatigable Chris Matgouranis, we calculated postgraduate earning differentials for colleges based on their selectivity. We used the Barron’s College Guide selectivity classifications, and then obtained earnings data (alumni median salary by years of experience) from Payscale.com. The analysis thus far is limited to 235 schools (out of a total of 1154) in the categories “competitive,” “very competitive,” “highly competitive,” and “most competitive.” Thus far, we have not yet analyzed the two least competitive categories of schools.
The results are summarized in the chart [above]. Whereas average earnings for the 71 schools we examined in the “most competitive” group were over $94,000 for alumni 10 to 19 years past graduation, the figure for the “competitive” group (many mid-quality state universities) was less than $63,000. I estimated the discounted present value of the lifetime earnings advantage for graduates of “most competitive” schools compared with “competitive” ones to be about $768,000. Since the incremental cost of attending “most competitive” schools is dramatically less than that, students correctly perceive that attending a prestigious school has big payoffs.
» via The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription may be required for some content)