26 Jun

Charleston Daily Mail – Thursday, June 26, 2014
Editorial: WVU Tech may be the best choice of all

Despite a slow job market and ever-increasing student loans, college is still a good investment, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Even if a job does not require a college degree, an employee is better off with one, the study found.

When it comes to higher education, the return on investment depends on the college chosen and the major studied. Harvard and other Ivy League colleges offer great returns on their investment, of course. Not only are the degrees prestigious, but the network of their graduates is stellar.

However, Forbes found, the best investment in the country is Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., which has fewer than 1,000 students. Its mission is to educate engineers, scientists, and mathematicians, who are well-versed in the humanities and the social sciences as well.

Forbes magazine found Harvey Mudd graduates typically receive a starting salary of $73,300 a year. Forbes calculated the return on investment over 20 years as $980,900.

That bested No. 2 Cal Tech ($837,600), No. 13 Princeton ($690,800) and No. 23 Harvard ($650,100).

However, one does not have to travel across the country to do well by college. West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery ranked in the top 10 percent. Its graduates can expect a starting salary of $52,200 a year and a 20-year return of investment of $452,200.

That topped No. 314 WVU ($311,600) and No. 878 Marshall ($154,300).

Two factors make the return at WVU-Tech so high, spokeswoman Jen Wood Cunningham told the Daily Mail’s Whitney Burdette.

The cost of attendance is low and the students pursue degrees in chemical, electrical, software and project engineers. The demand for engineers is much higher than say, English majors, which explains the difference.

The school also has a good reputation.

“We’ve been told by employers that with our graduates, they don’t have to do a two- or three-year training program to get them where they need to be,” Cunningham said. “Our graduates are ready when they graduate. They’re ready to start day one.”

Engineers from WVU, Marshall and other state schools can expect the same salaries and a similar rate of return.

West Virginia high school students should think about staying in state—especially if they qualify for four years of free or nearly free tuition from Promise scholarships.

Regardless of school choice, an investment in a two-year or four-year higher education is one that pays off well in the long run.

Charleston Daily Mail editorial: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140626/DM04/140629538

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