Optimal’s GradReports Releases the Salary Score: A Metric to Show How Colleges Stack Up by Alumni Salary

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GradReports publishes Salary Scores for 2,200+ colleges and 334 majors, as well as rankings for the top schools.

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The company compared the salaries of over 4.6 million college graduates to determine Salary Scores for more than 885 college degrees, then used the scores to rank the 2021 Best Colleges at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels.

The higher education industry has been radically altered by COVID-19. The economic fallout from the pandemic has only magnified the need for cost-benefit analysis of pursuing a college degree, and it’s all happening under the shadow of an already looming student debt crisis. And despite most education moving online in 2020, the industry has made limited concessions and continued to charge high tuitions despite a change in the offerings. Now, more than ever before, students are concerned with being able to support themselves, and are in need of the data that illustrates how much they can make in their chosen field after graduation. In response, higher education data research company Optimal is making it easier for students to know, before they start their education, what they are likely to earn after graduation.

Optimal’s GradReports product has released its new proprietary Salary Scores in an effort to empower students with the data they need to make smart decisions. The company compared the salaries of over 4.6 million college graduates to determine Salary Scores for more than 885 college degrees, then used the scores to rank the 2021 Best Colleges at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Think of it as a predictor of earning potential and ROI for one of the most crucial investments a student will ever make.

“This past year has created an atmosphere of enormous financial strain and uncertainty,” said Optimal CEO Sung Rhee, “and now more than ever, students and their families are in need of data that demonstrates earnings outcomes, giving them the ability to plan for the future and also feel confident in their decisions.”

GradReports’ Salary Score is based on median alumni earnings in the year after graduating, using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. The score compares the median alumni salary for a specific program at one school to the median alumni salary for the same program at other schools, allowing prospective students to see which schools offer top earnings for that program. Each school then receives an overall Salary Score by degree level to illustrate colleges that prepare students for a high paying career regardless of major. This overall score is based on how well the school performs across all the programs it offers, weighted by student enrollment in each program.

“Quite a few surprising, lesser-known colleges appear high on our rankings as well, illustrating that it’s not always the most recognized, exclusive or expensive schools that will deliver the best financial outcome. And that’s an important message we want our rankings to convey: that traditional expectations do not always match reality.”

Students can use GradReports' Salary Score search tool to explore over 2,200 school profiles and compare how schools stack up in terms of post-graduate salaries, both overall and by major. Additionally, GradReports includes pertinent takeaways from the data, such as: how public, private, and for-profit schools compare in terms of Salary Scores; which states produce the best Salary Scores; and how their rankings and methodology compare to the U.S. News rankings.

In the upcoming months, GradReports will be extending its rankings to include the top schools for Salary Score by state, as well as updated rankings by major. For more information, please visit http://www.gradreports.com.

About Optimal™
Optimal helps prospective students make informed, data-driven decisions to improve their collegiate experience and their post-college careers. The company provides over 85,000 in-depth student reviews, as well as college and bootcamp rankings for every major through its three major products, GradReports, OnlineU, and SwitchUp. Optimal’s tools and services provide accessible and transparent financial data regarding cost and earning potential that give students educational paths that lead them to success, without burdening them with insurmountable debt. https://www.optimal.com

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Nicole Hopler
Optimal
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