Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is one of the top 20 schools in the nation that offer the highest return on investment (ROI), according to a new study of more than 500 colleges and universities by Payscale.com. The study, dubbed "Colleges Worth Your Investment," was conducted for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and was reported on today by BusinessWeek.com and The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Blogs. The top 20 list included MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, and Stanford, among others.
The Payscale.com ROI ranking is intended to help students and parents evaluate the "payback" value of a student’s undergraduate degree. In the ranking, ROI was determined by comparing the cost of attending a school with how much its graduates earn. The report notes that WPI’s 30-year ROI is $1.2 million and the 30-year net return for graduates is $1.5 million, with an 11.6 percent annual ROI.
"College outcomes have always strongly weighed in student and parent decisions, but even more so in recent years due to the economic downturn," said Kristin R. Tichenor, senior vice president for enrollment and institutional strategy at WPI "Families can ill afford to invest in an institution that will not position students for success upon graduation.
"One of the reasons WPI has seen record numbers of applications and enrollments is our strong track record," Tichenor added. "WPI’s academic program enables students to put their classroom learning to the test by tackling real-world problems while they are still undergraduates. The net result is they become critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers with the experience, expertise, and the leadership skills that employers value. It’s not surprising that our graduates enjoy some of the highest starting salaries in the nation and excellent long-term career opportunities. That’s a pretty compelling return on investment."
This marks the third straight year that Payscale.com has ranked WPI highly for the employment and salary opportunities of its alumni. A 2008 Payscale.com survey reported by Forbes.com ("The Top Colleges for Getting Rich") ranked WPI No. 9 in the nation for graduates employed for 10 to 20 years. An August 2009 ranking, which also recognized schools that produce the best-paid graduates, placed WPI in the top 10 among all schools for highest median starting salary.
Businesses recognize the value of a WPI education, and actively recruit students and alumni. Top recruiters of WPI students include General Electric, United Technologies Corp., Raytheon, Intel, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Hewlett Packard, Compaq Computer, National Grid, IBM Rational, Lucent Technologies, Accenture, and Genzyme, among others.
Payscale.com, which collects pay information from individuals who use its online pay comparison tools, examined a database of 1.4 million pay reports and information on college costs across the country. It then determined how much graduates of each school earned (after deducting the cost of their degrees) above the typical pay for a high school graduate over the same period. "In a very real sense, this is what a college degree from each institution is ‘worth’ in dollars and cents," wrote BusinessWeek.com reporter Louis Lavelle, noting that "unlike most other rankings, this one takes into account each school's six-year graduation rate, providing a more accurate way of assessing a school's ROI."
The ROI ranking is the most recent of many accolades given to WPI in the 2009-10 academic year. U.S. News & World Report’s College Issue recognized WPI for being a best value, for offering an innovative educational curriculum, and for its Global Projects Program, through which thousands of students have traveled to all corners of the globe to develop solutions to real-world problems. In addition, BusinessWeek ranked WPI’s part-time MBA program number 1 in the nation, and The Princeton Review ranked the university 20th out of 371 schools for being home to some of the "happiest students" in the nation.