Comments about ‘Top 100 colleges with the highest ROI’

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Published: Tuesday, May 28 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

What this survey tells me is that the top ten college are predominately Engineering/Hard Science institutions. To paraphrase Willie Sutton: Boys and Girls, Go into Engineering/Science because that where the money is. What it means to me is, you realize during your undergrad years that being a competent average Engineer pays a heck of alot more than awesome physical education teacher. Not that there is anything wrong with being an awesome PE teacher.

Orlando, FL

In college you should make decisions that maximize your options. You create so many options for yourself by pursuing a technical degree. There are so many directions that you can take out of school that people will be willing to pay you for.

I've known plenty of people who felt they had little aptitude for Computer Science or Engineering, but felt those degrees would pay off and were willing to grit them out any way they could. It was tough going and their grades were often just good enough to get by. They learned that there was no shame in getting tutors and the greater understanding they gained through being able to ask the same questions over and over until the concepts clicked, was invaluable.

Many of my colleagues are heavily involved in interests outside of work that have nothing to do with their day jobs including theater and competitive ballroom dancing.
Are your passions in history, foreign languages, literature or photography?
A technical degree may enable you to regularly travel and experience far off places in a way that even a career in those fields might not. Even better, your travel plans can change with your interests.

BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

@ Shamal - We are on the same page

Studying Engineering/Hard Science is not for your average diletants. My classmates and I paid the price to get graduated. A Skiing Class? Pfft!!!. We studied 50-60 hours a week outside of the time spent in class. Many of us would knock off at 5pm for a daily workouts. That kept me/us sane. After the break we'd get dinner and be back studying til midnite. I've heard stories that's what the kids at Caltech in Pasadena also did/do make it through the semester. I don't know how my married classmates could juggle a wife and school?

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

There's no way in the world I spent $77k to earn my degree from BYU. And I've had a pretty average run up in earning but am on pace to double his ROI number over 30 years. Throw in non-earning related income (stock options) and I'm well past his numbers. Where did he get his numbers since these don't make much sense.


Sigh, this article isn't talking about ROI -- it's talking about raw return, which is different. Return on investment refers to the bang for your buck, not just the end 'bang' that is being ranked here.

ROI takes both the gains AND THE COSTS into consideration, which is what makes it useful because it allows you to see how much your money is actually working for you. It also is not a dollar amount (like what is shown here) but a percentage showing the ratio of how much you gained vs how much you spent. Just because you get a 'boatload of money back' doesn't mean your investment had a good ROI -- especially if you had to spend a 'boatload of money' to begin with. And many highly ranked schools here are exhibiting just that.

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

In the engineering program at the U, it's purposely made hard just to see who can hack it. They cut the bottom 50% from the program each year based on GPA. Some of the classes are ridiculously hard. I took tests that were so hard that 35% would get you an A. And then you have to pass the FE exam - basically an 8-hour death march - just to graduate. The pass rate on that test is less than half.

Honestly I've worked hard in my 20 years as an engineer, but I've never worked as hard as I did in school. That's what they're really looking for in college - whether or not you can work hard. It's not so much about the facts and's about your character.

So it's easy to say everybody just needs to major in something STEM-related, but the bottom line is not many kids can survive the program.

West Jordan, UT

@Brave Sir Robin:

I really don't mean this to be offensive or an attack on your and your school (maybe it provides insight into the reported ranking), but when I went through the Engineering program at BYU 15 years ago, our average annual pass rate of the FE exam was around 90%.

John Reading

As an electrical engineering grad from BYU in 1982 I can add my testimonial to the fact that hard sciences are not for everyone. However, there is another aspect of ROI that I am afraid is getting lost. I am sorry that I treated BYU as a vocational school. I took no art, no music, no history, and only one literature class while I was there. All I expected - and all I got - was my degree. I wish that I had gotten an education. I have encouraged my kids to be a little broader than I was, and I encourage others to take advantage of more of the college experience than just getting a degree.

Bluffdale, UT

The housing bubble burst a couple of years ago, I am just waiting for the College Bubble to burst. The cost of an education is way out of line to its worth - especially for the humanities which for the most part will not pay you back what you have invested.

Payson, UT

Reread robins post. Putting up your 90% number to his 100 % number would in no way be considered offensive.
The 50% pass rate is nationwide, so you should still be proud that your program is above the average.

Payson, UT

The study is interesting, but doesn't even cover half the real factors in material success.
1) if you have a full ride scholarship, ROI is infinite. So what school should you choose? Need to factor in that Ivy League doesn't give full rides, just supposed "discounts" to tuition.
2) largest factor in material success is financial conditions of your parents. Money generates money (usury in a sense). Money also generates valuable professional contacts.
3) this study is on average ROI, which is an inaccurate measure of your chances to make a positive increase in your material wealth. The percentage of graduating students with a positive ROI would be better because it eliminates the skewed results. (I.e. the success of just 2 or 3 students could eliminate the negative ROI of hundreds of graduates in the current study)

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

I am stunned that anyone is taking this study seriously. Are we expected to believe that "only 150 schools" have a ROI that make it worthwhile to attend college? My kids have worked and scrimped their way through Wisconsin schools and BYU with much less debt than is suggested in this "study."

The real question to ask is why are so many Republicans trying to convince people not to go to college?

Sandy, UT

College should teach how to put data in context. It appears that the vast majority were either 1) schools in high cost of living areas or 2) engineering schools. The abundance of schools in NY, NJ and CA suggest that those schools have a higher "ROI" because there students will go to work in high cost states where salaries are higher (their costs were much higher than the U or Y). You would actually get a much higher ROI by going to the U or the Y and then working in one of those states.

This same factor may explain the difference between the U and the Y. A much higher number of Y students will return to California, Washington, and other higher cost states. A BYU grad teaching in LA will make more than a U grad teaching in Sandy. They earned more income - but at what cost?

Engineering schools are also high on the list. However, this is not a fair comparison as teachers, etc. make less than engineers. Try comparing the U or Y engineering schools to the others and adjust for cost of living? I bet the results change.

BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

@ RBB,

Yes, putting the study results in context thought is spot on! Conceivably retiring from a high cost of living state,say California, and retiring to a lower cost state, say Utah, is a future option for me too.

@ Sir Robin.

I have the greatest respect for the Grads of the U of U Engineering school. These undergrad classes we all suffered through winnowed out the weaker students. I've learned, those who leave can be phenomially sucessful elsewhere. There is a retired wealthy lawyer, a Havard Law School Grad. Monthly he puts on these Church History Seminars at his mansion in Anaheim Hills. He has said he started out as an Engineering student at either the U or the Y, But didn't find the course work a good fit for him after his freshman year and changed his major. His talents obviously laid in his law studies.

@ At the Liberal Arts Deprived guy.

There is nothing stopping you from nuturing your Liberal Arts beast. De-constructing literature should come easilier for us enginner/STEM types. My Former was a English Lit major, now an Adjunct prof. Try it and it will grow your world view.

Merritt Island, Fl

My father was an orphan in 1933 and did not complete HS. WWII interrupted his apprenticeship as a Tool and Die maker, which he picked back up when he returned. He understood the need for an education and completed his GED in 1955. he moved from the shop to an office position shortly after that and retired years later as a Supervisor.
Dad was smart, learned his craft through experience. I believe to today that earning my BA and MBA did little to enhanse my career, it only checked off the boxes people looked at. I retired at a high position, depended more on experience and speciatlty training than sitting in a classroom at night.

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