It Matters Where You Attend College

On average, of course

About 6 months ago, The Wall Street Journal published a dataset on Kaggle titled: “Where it Pays to Attend College” . This dataset contains data on median starting salary and median and multiple percentiles of mid-career salaries for different majors, schools and regions in the US. In this post, we present the results of our exploration in this data set.

College Majors That Pay Back

Below is a chart of the median starting vs median mid-career salary. It gives us some important insights about the highest earning starting and mid career majors as well as the ones with the highest increase. You can explore this chart interactively here!

Top 3 majors by mid-career salary:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering

Top 3 majors by starting salary:

  • Physician Assistant
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering

Top 3 majors by highest increase from starting to mid-career [%]

  • Philosophy
  • Math
  • International relation

Colleges & Regions That Pay Back

Next we explore the effect of colleges and regions of the college on both starting and mid-career salary. Below is another chart with the same axes as before with the colors of each point specifying their region. US colleges in the dataset are divided into 5 regions. We color code these regions according to the following list:

  1. Northeastern — Blue

2. California region — Red

3. Mid-western region — Yellow

4. Western region — Green

5. Southern region — Purple

Top 3 colleges for starting salary are

  • Caltech
  • MIT
  • Harvey Mudd

Top 3 colleges for Mid-career salary are

  • Dartmouth
  • Princeton
  • Yale

If you want to command a median Mid-Career salary of $120K/year you better study either in California or the Northeastern region. In fact, there are only a handful of colleges outside California and theNortheastern region that provide graduates with the opportunity to earn a median Mid-career salary above $100K/year.

Southern colleges with median mid-career salary > $100K/year

  • Davidson College
  • University of Virginia
  • Washington and Lee university
  • Georgia institue of Technology

Mid-Western colleges with median Mid-career salary > $100K/year

  • Carlton college

Western colleges with median Mid-career salary > $100K/year

  • Colorado school of Mines

In total in the league of median “Mid-career salary of > 100K” colleges there are:

  • 23 colleges from the Northeastern region
  • 8 colleges from California
  • 4 colleges from the Southern region
  • 1 college from the Midwestern region
  • 1 college from the Western region

You can interact with the above charts and try to find more insights by checking the notebook here!

Next steps

  1. Including the tuition fee of each university can yield better (fairer?) results toward public universities
  2. Cost of living in each region also can be added to the analysis.
  3. Controlling for majors at various regions
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