What makes a college turn out higher earners? Is it reputation and prestige? Academic rigor? Networking opportunities? And which colleges in New Jersey graduate the highest earners? It probably takes a combination of all of the above and more to turn out high-earning grads.

Stacker.com compiled a list of the colleges whose graduates earn the most, using 2021 data — released in 2023 — from PayScale.

They listed them in order of mid-career earnings (median salaries for alumni with 10+ years of experience,) and early-career earnings (alumni with 0-5 years of experience.)

And on a list of the top 100 in the country, two of the top 20 are right here in NJ.

MIT via Google Maps
MIT via Google Maps

Number one in the country was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
MIT, with median mid-career pay listed as $167,200 and early career pay, as $93,700.
No surprises there.

But the number 3 on the list for high-earning grads in the entire country was Princeton University, with a median mid-career salary of $161,500 and early career pay of $81,800.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Incidentally, nearly half of Princeton’s grads majored in business and Princeton’s grads make an average of more than $90,000 per year

At number 15 was Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken which the study reports has grads whose median mid-career salary is $150,900 and median early career pay is $80,400.

Stevens Institute of Technology via Google Maps
Stevens Institute of Technology via Google Maps

Obviously, most of Stevens students major in science and technology and become very successful quickly.

Not only does Stevens have grads with a high early salary but according to the study, Stevens graduates historically find jobs within six months after graduation.

New Jersey Institute of Technology via Google Kaps
New Jersey Institute of Technology via Google Kaps

Only one other NJ school made the top 100 and that was way down on the list at number 71 and that was New Jersey Institute of Technology. Still, with a not-too-shabby mid-career pay at $129,600 and early career median pay at $69,200, they’re evidently doing a good job.

Colleges with a strong reputation and brand name tend to attract more high-performing students who are likely to secure high-paying jobs after graduation.

And both Princeton and Stevens Institute of Technology fall into that category. Employers also tend to view graduates from prestigious colleges like these as more valuable and attractive candidates, which can lead to higher starting salaries.

The study also says that these colleges offer robust networking opportunities, such as career fairs, alumni networks, and internships, which can help students make valuable connections that can lead to job opportunities and higher salaries after graduation. That’s something to consider also, when choosing a college if you’re hoping for that eventual big payday.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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New Jersey high school graduation rates

The lists below show 4-year graduation rates for New Jersey public schools for the 2020-21 school year. The statewide graduation rate fell slightly, from 91% in 2019-20 to 90.6%.

The lists, which are sorted by county and include a separate list for charter schools, also include a second graduation rate, which excludes students whose special education IEPs allow them to qualify for diplomas despite not meeting typical coursework and attendance requirements.

Columns with an asterisk or 'N' indicate there was no data or it was suppressed to protect student privacy.

Average SAT scores for all NJ high schools, 2020-21

Average SAT scores for the 2020-2021 school year are listed by county, from highest to lowest. Data includes the combined score, as well as the average scores on the math and reading/writing sections.

Participation rates show the share of 12th graders in the Class of 2021 who took the SAT in 2020-21 or in prior years.

High schools aren't listed if there is no data or the number of students participating was low enough that average scores were not publicly reported to protect student privacy.

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