Private colleges may have a higher price tag than government-funded public schools, but if you are willing to pay their hefty tuition, or if you can work out a financial aid package that makes a private school an affordable option, they can be a very smart choice. If you are considering a private school for your bachelor's degree, PayScale's College Salary Report ranks the best private colleges by alumni salaries. If you are go to a college that has a history of helping alumni settle into high-paying careers and planning on picking a major with high earning potential, a private school education can be a great investment.
Some of the most famous private schools in the country are the Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Yale, so it's no surprise that they do so well in the PayScale College Salary Report. But it's interesting to wonder why the Ivies, as well as other famous private schools like Stanford, Babson, Washington and Lee, Carnegie Mellon and Tufts, do so well despite not focusing on STEM subjects exclusively. We speculate that because private schools are generally smaller and have strong alumni networks, they give college students stronger networking opportunities that help them start their careers off strong.
The earning power of STEM subjects cannot be overlooked though, especially when we rank private colleges by the salaries of alumni with five or fewer years of experience. By this ranking, we see even more engineering schools make the list of top 10 private colleges by alumni salary. Harvey Mudd, MIT, CalTech, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Stevens, and Stanford all have alumni who report typical early career salaries of $65,000 or more. Schools with strong STEM programs often have the highest early career salaries because majors like engineering, computer science and mathematics often lead to Cleary defined career paths. Schools that grant more liberal arts degrees prepare students with important and valuable critical thinking skills, but students with these majors often take a little longer to find a successful career path.