For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Oct 20 2016
by Jade Miller

11 Schools with the Least Bang for Your Buck

By Jade Miller - Oct 20 2016

Around this time last year, Start Class published an article describing schools where alumni make less than high school graduates. Why is this important? Well, when you come out of college, the goal is to either pursue an even higher education from graduate school, or to have a steady income from a job that not only makes you happy, but pays the bills. Based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of full time workers in around $50,000, but even then, the in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition are rising, and the median salary is decreasing. 

Start Class

With a new senior class finally in full swing (hard to believe, really), it's important to know what these students might be getting themselves into by attending a certain school. That's not to say that these schools don't have good job outcomes, it's just saying if you're going to attend, make sure you're really getting the bang for your (really expensive) buck! And while Smart Class lists about 50 schools, Fresh U has picked just some of the schools with low median earnings post-enrollment. If you'd like to view the full list, click here.

1. University of California - Santa Cruz

Founded in 1965, the tuition rate for in-state is around $13,400, and the out-of-state is around $36,300. But, the six year median salary is only around $29,900, less than the out-of-state tuition! That being said, UCSC students earn a lower salary post-graduation than both the average UC student and the average four year public college student in California.

2. Lawrence University 

Located in Eastern Wisconsin and established in 1847, their six year median salary is around $29,600, and their 10-year median salary is about $42,800, Tuition rate? $42,700. Talk about a big difference. Lawrence University itself is more expensive than the average private four-year college in Wisconsin. 

Smart Class

3. Sarah Lawrence College

Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence's tuition rate is around $50,900. Now, based on a lot of colleges today, this seems pretty okay, right? Let's take a look at their median salaries. Six-year median? $27,000. Ouch. What about 10-year? $39,700. Also ouch. The tuition itself is the highest of any liberal arts college in the country. 

4. Beloit College

Going back to Wisconsin, this school has popular degrees in Psychology, Anthropology and Science. Its tuition rate runs about the same as Lawrence at $42,500, yet the damages in medians are a little worse. The six year median runs at about $26,200 and the 10-year runs at $37,900. 

Beloit College

5. College of the Atlantic

Located in Southeastern Maine and founded in 1969, it's only major is Human Ecology. Yep. Human. Ecology. Pretty cool if you're into that stuff, if not, it's probably not too cool. It's a small school with around 400 students, but its tuition rate is around $40K. Its six-year salary is around $18,300, and its 10-year median salary is around $27,000. 

6. Reed College

Popular majors? Biology, English and Anthropology. Four year graduation rate? 60%. Tuition rate in 2015? $47,800. Their six year median salary? $25,200. Reed college is more expensive than the average private four year college in Oregon by over $10,000. 

Jade Miller

7. Earlham College

Located in Eastern Indiana and founded in 1847, they're a pretty small school. Their incoming freshman class from 2015 was about 270, and overall they have about 1,000 students. Their tuition rate right now is about $43,000, and their 10-year median salary is about $32,300. But, they are pretty good on class size! About 45% of their classes have only two to nine students in each class. This is different from a lot of the bigger schools on the list. Definitely a plus. 

Jade Miller

8. Ohio Wesleyan University

Member of the Ohio Five, Ohio Wesleyan was founded in 1842. Their tuition rate is around $42,000, and their six year median salary is about $28,700. Their 10 year is a little bit better, coming in at $41,000, but there's still a little ways to go. 

9. Colorado College

Named the number one liberal arts college in Colorado, founded in 1874, with a four-year graduation rate of 83%, you might wonder how Colorado College made the list. I'm glad you asked. Their tuition rate is around $46,500, and their 10-year median salary is only $41,100. I guess that sums that up pretty quickly. Still, with a great graduation rate, you gotta wonder what they're doing right to keep students in college. 


10. Oberlin College

As the first college to admit African American students and women into their college, Oberlin is pretty historic. But, they're tuition rate is $49,000, and their six-year median salary is only $25,900. Their 10-year isn't all that impressive either, with a median of $38,400. When looking at a college like Oberlin, you have to look at all the data. Oberlin has different majors from other schools pertaining to performance, and that may cause the weird shift in salary.

11. Macalester College

Founded in 1874, they're ranked at around 15 for liberal arts schools in the country. That's impressive. That being said, their six year median salary is about $28,400 and their 10-year median salary is around $45K. What's the tuition rate? $47,200. 

Jade Miller

Now, it's important to remember that a lot of these schools still have great qualities. They have their ups and downs, and clearly one of the downs may be the post-graduation salary, but understand that these are median scores. Not everyone who attends these schools will have alumni who are earning below their tuition rates - it's just the work-force game of finding a job and being able to keep it over time. Hopefully this helps you find a college that you truly find and love, and if not, hopefully you can change the averages of these schools by kicking butt!

Lead Image Credit: Jazmin Quaynor via Unsplash

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Jade Miller - University of Rochester

Jade Miller is a sophomore at the University of Rochester double majoring in Business and English Literature. She is a Junior Editor for the Fresh U national site. She is a member of the sorority Gamma Phi Beta and also a coxswain for UR Rowing. She loves dogs, reading, and having a single this year in her res hall. Follow her on Twitter @jade_miller_

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