BRONZEVILLE — Three Chicago colleges are underrated because their graduates get more bucks for the educational bang, according to an online business publication.
The study cross-referenced the schools' rankings with US News & World Report and average midcareer salary for graduates as determined by the PayScale College Salary Report.
IIT, which already was considered one of US News' best values, ranked 116th overall with that magazine, but was 52nd on the PayScale ranking, with an average midcareer salary for graduates estimated at $100,000. The study compared that with the $39,975 annual tuition.
"It's pretty cool," said Mike Gosz, IIT's vice provost for admissions and financial aid. "The word's getting out."
According to Gosz, US News tends to downgrade technology institutes because it emphasizes graduation rates, while those schools, with their hands-on, can-do technology fields, see more students leave for jobs and then return. Even considering that, he said, the school was about to post a record six-year graduation rate of 73 percent, and was placing 90 percent of alumni either in jobs or in graduate programs within six months of graduation.
The school's mission, Gosz added, is to offer more open enrollment than, say, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which might see an average 35 ACT score for entering freshmen, while IIT might post a 28, again resulting in a slight from the magazine.
"Imagine the kid who comes from an underserved high school in Chicago," Gosz said. "IIT is one of the places where that kid gets a shot. They can do amazing things."
That only figures to increase with initiatives like IIT's recent alliance with Von Steuben High School.
Gosz said he expected the underrated study to have an effect on the US News rankings in years to come, especially with the PayScale Report on salaries, which he said "has some chops to it" in its "rigor" and accuracy.
"It's been kind of an interesting ride for us over the past seven years," Gosz said.
President John Anderson brought in a top leadership team, including Provost Alan Cramb, who will soon succeed him.
"They challenged the school to step up the game," Gosz said.
The results have been clear. The school's undergraduate enrollment topped 3,000 this school year, highest since 1951 at the peak of the GI Bill.
Among other city schools, the University of Illinois at Chicago was tied for 16th. The publication cited a midcareer salary of $86,800. It ranked 149th with US News and 166th with PayScale. The study also credited contacts made through the University of Illinois Alumni Association, the world's largest alumni community.
DePaul University ranked 49th. The publication pointed to how DePaul grads made a midcareer salary of $84,500, with business and digital media being the most popular fields. It was 121st on the US News list and 206th in the PayScale rankings.
Outside the Chicago area, Northern Illinois University placed 37th on the list.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology was ruled the most underrated U.S. college.
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