Wilkes University is ranked 25th in the nation for economic value by the international newspaper The Economist – a ranking higher than any other Arizona college. The ranking was announced in the publication’s first-ever college rankings.
The ranking determines a college’s economic value by comparing what a school’s undergraduate alumni earn and how much they might have earned had they studied somewhere else. In Wilkes’ case, that amounts to $8,250 more in annual earnings.
The Economist’s analysis included a median salary for graduates predicted in its model for each of the 1,275 colleges included in its rankings. The salaries are predicted as what graduates would earn 10 years after entering college.
Each college received an “over/under” score – showing if earnings ranked above or below expected earnings if they attended another school. In Wilkes’ case, expected earnings are $41,650. The median earnings projected by The Economist are $49,900, showing that attending Wilkes boosts the earnings power of its graduates above expectations at +$8,250.
Wilkes University Provost Anne Skleder said the new ranking reflects that Wilkes is a good investment for its students in Mesa. “Our students and their families know the value of a Wilkes education – in outstanding teaching, in the research and internship opportunities provided to undergraduates and the mentoring by faculty that helps to guarantee student success. In the last few years, we’ve been able to introduce that outstanding educational experience in Arizona. The Economist’s ranking affirms that value by showing that our students exceed expectations in their earnings. This is especially important in light of our mission to educate students who are the first in their family to attend college.”
The Economist’s rankings use the U.S. Department of Education’s new College Scorecard data as a starting point. To arrive at the over/under comparison, the newspaper used a variety of variables, including average SAT scores, sex ratio, race breakdown, college size, socioeconomic data, whether a university was public or private, and the mix of subjects students chose to study. The result is a ranking that recognizes value above reputation, listing Wilkes above institutions such as MIT and Penn State.
Using the publication’s model, Wilkes fared well based on such variables as fields of study offered and its dedication to educating disadvantaged students – often the first in their family to attend college. The Economist listed pharmacy, business and engineering as among the most desirable fields of study for predicting future success – all majors offered at Wilkes. And the number of Pell Grant-eligible students at Wilkes – more than 30 percent of undergraduates – indicates the University is offering opportunity to the most economically disadvantaged students. Following graduation, many will earn above their family’s income. Successful outcomes are affirmed by the fact that 95 percent of Wilkes alumni have found a job or entered graduate school one year after graduation.
The Economist’s ranking is the latest in several value rankings Wilkes University has earned. The University was ranked highest in Pennsylvania in MONEY magazine’s “Best Colleges for Your Money.” The New York-based financial technology company Smart Asset recently ranked Wilkes among the top schools where graduates earn the highest starting salaries. Wilkes also was ranked as one of the top 20 Pennsylvania colleges with the greatest lifetime return on investment by the website AffordableCollegesOnline.org.
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university is on a mission to create one of the great small universities, offering all of the programs, activities, and opportunities of a large, research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small, liberal arts college, at a cost that is increasingly competitive with public universities.