Recently, SmartAsset, a company that uses data to answer financial questions, ranked Boston College fourth on a list of colleges that provide the best value in Massachusetts. The rankings were determined by using a variety of factors, including tuition, living costs, average starting salary, and average scholarships and grants. Ahead of the University in the rankings are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amherst College, and Tufts University. The College of the Holy Cross is ranked just below BC. With its 95 percent student retention rate and average starting salary of $50,200, BC earned a 79.12 out of a possible 100 points on the college affordability index.
Though the cost-of-attendance at BC is nearly $63,000, the study focuses on more than just the sticker price of the University. Rather, SmartAssets aims to capture what students get in return for their investment.
It is important to be slightly skeptical of any report ranking value purely in term of numbers. The University offers academic programs many of its peers do not in education, for example. These programs might not lend themselves to as high a starting salary as the Carroll School of Management, but they are valuable nonetheless, and when looking at what the University has to offer, metrics like starting salary are not of highest importance.
To compete with the likes of MIT and Tufts, for example, BC would have to expand its programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). MIT is a math powerhouse, and Tufts has an established engineering program. The construction of Stokes Hall, a building where many humanities departments are housed, shows that BC is willing to invest elsewhere, and that’s a good thing. Expanding offerings related to engineering and considering the creation of an engineering school, however, could balance out the University, and provide stronger value to students interested in the STEM field.
At over $50,000, the average starting salary of BC’s graduates grows increasingly impressive. You might imagine this number would be skewed by the School of Management, which had a starting salary of $57,000 in 2013, but it is fairly representative of all schools at BC. The College of Arts & Sciences, for instance, reported a $50,000 starting salary. LSOE students reported a $46,000 starting salary. CSON students earned the highest starting salary, at $60,000. Across the board, the University is clearly providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce.
The study, in which Harvard College is ranked in eighth place out of 10 universities, is indicative of the premium BC places on education and practical skills, which complements its emphasis on liberal arts degrees that are less obviously applicable in the job market. BC does many things right, and the SmartAssets ranking serves to confirm this. The University, however, can still improve, particularly by working to bolster STEM curriculum—technically-oriented programs should be, metaphorically, brought out of the annals of Carney Hall, and showcased like the University does the humanities.
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