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Where The Big Bucks Are: 6 Top Colleges by Region


Will studying on sunny beaches lead to a high salary? In PayScale's 2012-2013 College Salary Report, we found out which college in each region of the U.S. offered its graduates the best shot at a high paycheck. If you are trying to decide between a New England autumn or mountain skiing between classes, look no further than our list of the six top colleges across the U.S. 

Princeton University: Northeast

The only Ivy League school to make our regional list, Princeton University earns bragging rights over Harvard, Yale, and the rest of the Ivies. Located in Princeton, NJ, students can enjoy gorgeous New England weather while being close to New York City and Boston. With many graduates banking mid-career* salaries of $137,000, Princeton tops our list of U.S. colleges by salary potential. 

Harvey Mudd College: West Coast

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Harvey Mudd College (HMC) has the distinction of making three of our lists this year. Aside from winning top school on the west coast, HMC is also the top liberal arts college and the top engineering school, making HMC the trifecta of terrific. Located in Claremont, CA, the HMC campus is close to Angeles National Forest and just a quick 45 minute drive to Huntington Beach. Hiking, surfing, and graduates who bring in mid-career salaries of $135,000 on average. What’s not to love?

United States Naval Academy (Annapolis): Southeast

Navy pride isn’t the only thing to come out of the United States Naval Academy. Former President Jimmy Carter is an Annapolis grad, along with many fine men and women in our naval forces. Located in Annapolis, MD, students undergo rigorous educational training. The USNA strives to develop the character of its students, holds itself to a strict code of honor, and produces alumni who go on to become elected officials, astronauts, and thought leaders in the military. Graduates earn at mid-career $122,000, typically. 

University of Notre Dame: Midwest

The home of the Fighting Irish, the University of Notre Dame is one of the country’s most famous educational institutions. Located in Indiana, this beautiful campus was home to many distinguished graduates, including Regis Philbin and Condaleeza Rice. Students are just two hours away from the excitement of Chicago, IL, and will likely earn mid-career salaries of $111,000. 

Colorado School of Mines: Mountain

With a sharp focus on engineering and applied science, the Colorado School of Mines comes in as the top school in the mountain region of the U.S. Nestled about 20 minutes outside of Denver, Mines students can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and close proximity to some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery. Study hard and you could earn $105,000, mid-career, a hefty paycheck to support all your winter sports addictions. 

Vanderbilt: Central South

This Nashville, Tennessee institution is a peach of the South, at least as far as PayScale is concerned. Students at Vanderbilt have access to faculty with a wide variety of knowledge, including science, liberal arts and music. Randy Brooks, holiday crooner of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is a Vanderbilt alum, as is Tipper Gore. Graduates of this southern gem can earn mid-career salaries of $104,000. 

Tell Us What You Think

Are you considering one of these schools for your college career? Are you an alum? Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #valueofedu

*Mid-career graduates have 15 years of experience.

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(Photo credit: ralph and jenny/flickr)


Alida Mooreston
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