At a time when student loan debts are at a record high, WPI has been recognized by two national ranking systems for providing an education that pays off. The Princeton Review ranked WPI 29th on its just-released list of the 2015 “Top 50 Colleges that Pay You Back,” while PayScale.com placed WPI in the top 3 percent of more than 1,000 colleges for early- and mid-career earnings of graduates.
“This is exciting news and completely consistent with what we hear from our alumni. They regularly cite their project work and faculty interactions as invaluable in giving them the confidence and competence they need to succeed in their careers. At a time when prospective students are concerned about return on investment, these most recent rankings from Princeton Review and PayScale.com underscore WPI’s strong value proposition,” says Kristin Tichenor, Senior Vice President.
An education that pays you back
With the average student loan debt nearing $30,000, prospective college students are increasingly concerned about the costs and outcomes of higher education. To address these issues, the Princeton Review developed a “Return-on-Education” rating that scores colleges on 40 factors, including alumni salary and satisfaction data from PayScale.com and information on academic value, facilities, resources, costs, and financial aid gathered from institutional and student surveys.
The top 200 colleges are profiled in the new guide, Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In, which includes several rankings lists. WPI ranks 29th overall, as well as 15th for “Colleges that Pay You Back—Without Aid,” 8th for “Best Career Placement,” and 15th for “Top Internship Opportunities.”
The guide praises WPI’s generous financial aid as well as its innovative project-based learning model and robust career development services that effectively prepare students for real-world success. It notes that 99 percent of first year students receive some form of financial aid, including an “extremely high number” of merit scholarships; spotlights the IQP for challenging students to “apply technology to solve a societal problem”; and describes the Career Development Center’s diverse services, from career fairs to advice on using social media.
The guide also takes into consideration additional factors such as student life, quality of teaching, and facilities. It states that WPI students are “very involved in campus organizations,” and describes WPI professors as genuinely interested in helping students succeed. On-campus resources highlighted include the Robotics Lab, the Fire Protection Engineering Lab, and the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park.
Impressive starting and mid-career salaries
The “Colleges that Pay You Back” rankings also draw heavily from PayScale.com’s data on alumni salary and career satisfaction, including the 2014–2015 PayScale College Salary Report, which was released in October 2014 and places WPI in the top 3 percent of colleges nationally for early career earnings.
The report, based on survey responses from more than 1.4 million employers, ranks WPI as 16th for early career salaries, at $62,700, and 33rd for mid-career salaries, at $110,500. The university also ranks 13th among national engineering schools and second in Massachusetts, behind only Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for early career salaries.
An additional PayScale report released in April 2014 ranked WPI 18th out of 1,312 colleges nationally for return on investment based on WPI’s 20-year net return on investment of $664,900. It also indicated that 79 percent of alumni would recommend WPI to prospective students and 68 percent have high job satisfaction.
– By Jennifer Wyglinski