Where you go to school DOES matter

From the pages of the Wall Street Journal this morning (subscription required) comes a new survey that reveals what we've all long suspected. Where you go to college does indeed matter in terms of pay.

Payscale, Inc., an online provider of global compensation data, recently released the findings of a yearlong study in which it surveyed 1.2 million bachelor's degree holders with a minimum of 10 years of work experience. The subjects' alma maters ranged from state schools to the Ivy League. It didn't survey those with advanced degrees, law or business degrees.

The median starting salary for Ivy Leaguers is 32% higher than that of liberal-arts colleges, according to the survey. And that lead grows as a graduate's career progresses. Ten-plus years into their careers, Ivy League graduates earn 34% more than graduates of other schools.Which school pays off most? According to this survey, it's Dartmouth, whose graduates earn the highest median salary of $134,000.

The survey points out that many graduates of Ivy League schools go into consulting or finance, which pays big right out of the chute. And while I've always questioned the value of hiring a 23-year-old "consultant" with a degree in Italian Literature from Yale, apparently this doesn't concern the consulting firms or the corporations who pay the big bucks to hire them.

Another interesting finding? What you major in has little longterm effect on your earning potential. It all depends on what you do with that philosophy degree. Go into consulting, and you'll earn a healthy living. Sit on a park bench and ponder pigeons? Well, you might as well have gone into journalism...
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