Is College Really Worth the Investment?

As you’re starting your college research, you might be experiencing some sticker shock at the price tag on colleges across the nation.  Who has $50,000 to spend on a college education?  Are colleges really worth the financial investment?

According to a Pew Research Center report, college graduates not only earn higher salaries than those without a degree, but also have lower unemployment and poverty rates.  In addition, college graduates tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, carving out their career paths rather than just getting by with jobs.  But that’s still so far into the future.  So which colleges have the potential for a higher return on investment 10 years after graduating?

Business Insider recently published their “50 most underrated colleges in America” list which compares the U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best universities and liberal arts colleges in the nation with PayScale’s 2013-2014 College Salary Report, a report that ranks colleges by graduates’ mid-career salaries.

Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 colleges:

1)      New Jersey Institute of Technology – average $98,000 salary: Located in Newark, New Jersey only 10 minutes from Newark International Airport and just over 30 minutes from New York City, NJIT is a public university with over 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.  The average SAT composite score is 1347 for Honors College freshmen.  The student body is known for their diversity and NJIT is a NCAA Division I school.  The application deadline is March 1st with a financial aid priority deadline of March 15th.

2)      University of Massachusetts at Lowell – average $95,100 salary: Located about an hour outside of Boston via public transportation, UMass Lowell is one of the five colleges in the University of Massachusetts system, the state’s only public research university system.  UMass Lowell offers over 150 different programs through its six colleges.  This medium-sized university participates in NCAA Division I athletics.  The average SAT score for incoming freshmen is 1150 and the average GPA is 3.43.  You can apply to the college via the UMass Lowell application until June 1st.

3)      Florida Institute of Technology – average $88,200 salary: Located on the eastern coast of Florida about an hour from Orlando and less than an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida Tech is a college well-suited for students who are interested in the sciences, engineering, aeronautics, business, humanities, psychology and liberal arts.  With a 9:1 faculty to student ratio, incoming freshmen have an average SAT score of 1150 and 92% have a high school GPA of over 3.0.  Florida Tech has numerous research institutes, centers, and major laboratories including the Applied Research Lab, Scott Center for Autism Treatment, Institute of Marine Research, and Institute for Materials Science and Nanotechnology, to name a few.

4)      University of Houston – average $85,200 salary: Located in southeast Houston, this college is great for students looking for a large, public university in an urban setting.  With over 30,000 students enrolled as undergraduates, the student body is one of the most diverse in the nation with a majority of the population being made up of students of color and 13% of students coming from outside Texas.   Students who are interested in business or marketing, energy research, architecture, or hotel and restaurant management might find that University of Houston is a great option for them.  The average SAT score for incoming students is 1143.  Students can apply for admission and priority financial aid via ApplyTexas by April 1st.

5)      Missouri University of Science & Technology – average $96,100 salary: Located about 2 hours southwest of St. Louis, Missouri S&T’s academics focus on engineering, computing, math, and sciences.  Students spend about 16 hours per week in classes or labs and can choose to earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees concurrently.  Missouri S&T boasts the largest number of females among U.S. technical schools and students can work on numerous student engineering projects at the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center.  This college has a Nuclear Propulsion Officer Program for nuclear engineering students in conjunction with the U.S. Navy as well as an experimental mine as one of their campus facilities.

Surprising that 3 out of the top 5 colleges are institutes of technology?  It makes sense given that the technology industry is predicted to continue to grow over the next several years and beyond, from the internet to retailers.  Check out the complete list to see all 50 schools!

Having trouble deciding which colleges should be on your college list?  Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Jennifer Sohn Lim is Assistant Director of Admissions at Veritas Prep. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts at Wellesley College, followed by her Master of Education and Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.