Monday, July 20, 2009

Money, money, money (Life after Princeton)

Should you have attended Dartmouth instead of Princeton? PayScale, a website that collects salary data, has released its 2009 data of median starting salaries and mid-career salaries of college graduates and Dartmouth grads earn a larger median mid-career salary than Princeton grads.

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Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See full methodology for more.

Princeton has the highest starting median salary among the Ivy League at $65,000, but comes in third behind Dartmouth and Harvard when mid-career salaries are compared with a median of $124,000. The highest median mid-career salary in PayScale's data is $129,000.

These numbers reflect the economic downturn when compared with the figures published by PayScale in 2008. At that point the median starting salary was $1,500 more at $66,500 and the median mid-career salary $2,000 reaching $131,000.

There are several problems with their data, for example it only includes salary information of graduates whose final degree is a Bachelors. Moreover, the data is not from randomized surveys.

Outside of these problems, what do PayScale's findings really tell you about whether or not you should have attended Dartmouth? Not much according to the New York Times, who cited Princeton professor Alan Krueger's research. Krueger found that the difference between attending one elite school instead of another, Dartmouth over Princeton for example, is small, and that it really comes down to the student.

Answer, no, you shouldn't have gone to Dartmouth instead.

You should however, have chosen to be a MAE major.


'12 said...

There is much more to life after school than salary. I hope there are more Princeton kids who would rather have a job they love than one which makes more money than the Dartmouth average.

Anonymous said...

W/regard to the MAE major comment, its important to take into consideration that they're only looking pay of graduates who don't pursue any other degree after graduating.
Someone graduating with an engineering degree can expect to enter the workforce without any other degrees and still get a decent job. A liberal arts major should expect to pursue an advanced degree (law, business, medicine, master's) in order to have any sort of chance in the workforce.
For example, I'm looking at the chart that's linked to and see that biology is way down there below philosophy. Is that because biologists earn less than philosophers? No -- biologists are expected to have an advanced degree (MD, PhD, or at least a Master's) before getting a job in research, medicine, or academics.

Kevin Law said...

You also have to pro-rate the interest from the accumulated wealth earned at a younger age; the corpus of which will keep growing.