While college can be a great time in one’s life, most people aren’t just going to school for the fun of it. Career opportunities, like more fulfilling jobs and better earnings, are often on the mind of college-goers. With that in mind, the Wall Street Journal surveyed employers about their top picks.
Here are the top 25 recruiter-preferred schools, according to the WSJ survey.
It’s not really a surprise that Penn State topped the Wall Street Journal’s ranking of most recruiter friendly college-this school was founded in 1855 with a practically-centered curriculum, as an agricultural school dedicated to applying science to further develop farming techniques. Now, of course, Penn’s notable programs have expanded far beyond the agricultural days of yore; respected programs include management information systems, finance, engineering, computer science, business/economics, and accounting. Penn’s dedication to career-focused programs is highlighted in its online World Campus, which offers dozens of academic programs to adults all over the globe.
Originally Texas Agricultural & Mechanical University, Texas A&M was Texas’s first public college. This school comes up every year in national rankings, and is known for the solid education it imparts.
In fact, Texas A&M was one of only 16 schools that the American Council of Trustees and Alumni gave an A rating for its core curriculum, and this “education, not reputation” philosophy is something that recruiters value. Plus, Texas A&M is no longer only agricultural and mechanical; recruiters ranked it in the top 25 for finance, engineering, and business/economics.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is unique in its breadth of available academic programs, and in its engagement with society. Students have the opportunity to choose from programs absent from many colleges today; Illinois boasts an Institute of Aviation, a School of Labor and Employment Relations, and a College of Veterinary Medicine. Along with this large number of degree programs, Urbana-Champaign has a unique commitment to public engagement-the idea that faculty and students should actively work with their community-which perhaps makes its graduates uniquely attractive to recruiters looking for real-world collaborative abilities.
While the past can help build a school’s reputation, these days the skills students need to be competitive in the workplace are changing at a fast pace. Purdue was ranked number 1 by recruiters for its management and information systems major, number 2 in engineering, and number 8 in computer science-proof that this school is keeping its programs and curriculum in line with current technology and valuable workplace skills. Purdue, a public university in Ohio, enrolls more than half its students from its home state.
Perhaps the secret behind ASU’s success with refcruiters is one of geography. The school, which is located in Phoenix, is split into four different campuses throughout the city; this allows the school’s polytechnic, liberal arts, and professional programs to flourish independently without vying for the spotlight. ASU’s highly ranked engineering programs-the undergraduate degrees have been ranked in the top 10% of programs in the U.S.-are certainly a draw for recruiters, as are the school’s business and economics programs.
UM Ann Arbor is consistently ranked on lists of “public Ivies,” public schools which boast research and teaching that rival those at any hoity-toity private college. The university has a unique degree of collaboration between academic departments, something which contributes to well-rounded students that can find links between diverse ideas. UM also hypes it connection with its town of Ann Arbor and the unique relationship “between town and gown” here. Ann Arbor has a little bit of everything; it’s the home to several large corporations, while also being ranked the 4th best city for families. Ann Arbor’s many offerings nurture students, while the school’s brain-factor also brings a steady stream of bright minds into town.
When you see the word “TECH” emblazoned on this school’s towers and residence halls, you probably already have a good idea why its graduates are valuable in today’s job market. This research university gives bright, small town kids a place to shine-60% of the student population comes from within Georgia; Georgia Tech is also ranked in the top 5 of schools based on the number of African American engineering grads. Recruiters pay attention to the school’s tech chops: the engineering school was ranked #1 by recruiters, their MIS program was ranked #3, and their computer science program was ranked #4.
University of Maryland, the flagship public university of Maryland, was ranked highly by recruiters in a number of disciplines, including engineering, accounting, and computer science. The public school has a remarkable undergraduate achievement rate: 96% of the freshman starting classes at the college are finished or still working on their degrees after 4 years. Perhaps recruiters favor students from a school with a creed that goes beyond simple academics: the university has been ranked multiple times as one of America’s top sustainable colleges.
UF continues the trend of highly ranked public universities whose graduates woo recruiters. The numbers for the incoming freshman class are eye-opening: students had a 4.3 GPA and a 1945 SAT score on average. And this school is diverse, as well as rigorous; UF ranked second for the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to African American and Hispanic students. Although the academics of this research university are regarded in many respects, recruiters ranked it highly in the finance and business/economics categories.
Perhaps you’re tired of hearing about recruiters favoring schools with strong computer science and engineering departments, but the trend holds true, at least for Carnegie Mellon. The school, whose graduates are known for designing robots and intelligent computers, was ranked number 1 in computer science by recruiters.
Finance and business/economics were also high on the list. Carnegie Mellon’s urban campus draws students from all over the country-just 17% are from Pennsylvania, so perhaps the large and diverse pool of applicants also adds to the school’s prestige in the eyes of recruiters.
Brigham Young is perhaps known best to the general population as a college founded on the principles of Latter Day Saints; however, its reputation to recruiters is a bit more complex. The school’s accounting degree program was ranked #1 by recruiters, probably because the students’ skills have been quantitatively showcased: BYU’s accounting students have won 1st or 2nd at Deloitte tax competition for the past 7 years. They’ve also been 1st or 2nd in the Deloitte auditing competition for the past 3 years.
Trying to find information about potential career paths at a well-ranked private school can be difficult. Renowned public schools like Ohio State don’t hide behind cries of “learning for the sake of learning,” however; Ohio State understands the relationship between stellar academics, research, and career opportunities. The school’s business, healthcare, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs come with in-depth career guides, and it’s probably no surprise that recruiters value business/economics, engineering, and accounting grads from Ohio State University.
The three largest colleges at Virginia Tech, by enrollment figures, are the colleges of engineering, science, and business. The emphasis on these programs makes VT’s grads appealing to employers; the school’s engineering and computer science programs were ranked #5 by business recruiters. Virginia Tech’s profile is similar to that of many other schools ranked in the Wall Street Journal’s list; it was founded in 1872 as a public land-grant college. It is consistently ranked as one of the top research universities in the U.S.; it pours about $400 million into its research endeavors.
One of the only ivy league schools to pop up in the top 25, we had to give Cornell a nod. Job recruiters rated this upstate New York institution at number 7 for engineering graduates. The diverse college’s departments stray away from the normal offerings of the ivies, and include a hospitality school, an industrial and labor relations school, and a veterinary medicine school.
The school is also educationally unique in that it is both public and private; it started as a land-grant school, but operates through a private endowment. Perhaps the egalitarian, public service mission of the land grant school is what put this ivy on the list, amongst a number of highly ranked public schools.
The most prestigious school in California’s lauded public university system, UC Berkeley is a rare college that is valued by recruiters in areas across the board, including accounting, computer science, and marketing. The public school draws on California’s huge student population, to create a very diverse student body; 25% are first-generation college students, 66% have a foreign born parent, and 63% graduated from public schools. Berkeley’s graduate programs recently outranked Harvard, Stanford, and MIT for the number of National Science Foundation fellowships awarded.
University of Wisconsin Madison’s list of schools and majors is as quite extensive, so it is no surprise that this public university showed up on the list of favored recruiter schools. Their accounting, advertising/marketing, finance, and engineering programs are all rated highly by recruiters. The fact that the school is involved in just about every discipline is perhaps a reflection of its founding ethic, The Wisconsin Idea: the principle that education should be influencing people’s lives and the world far beyond the classroom.
UCLA is another member of California’s revered public college system to appear on the Wall Street Journal’s list. This large school has more teaching faculty than some smaller colleges have students (there are 4,000 teaching faculty members), and it boasts highly ranked finance, accounting, business/economics, and engineering programs. The school’s diversity reflects its location in the L.A. area, with large numbers of Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander students in attendance. UCLA has a program called the Academic Advancement Program, designed to promote educational opportunities for students from underserved areas.
This public Texas college’s engineering program shows up on the list of recruiter favorites. The school is actually the largest college in the western 2/3 of Texas (which is a region larger than 46 other states), and is actually the only school in Texas with a major university, med school, and law school on one campus. Texas Tech’s engineering program is able to draw on the large pool of smart young minds in this huge state; it enrolls students from literally every corner and county of Texas.
19. (tie) North Carolina State University Raleigh
NC State continues the trend of highly-ranked public land-grant institutions whose students make an impact on recruiters’ radars. This school lets students delve into their interests right away; students can begin studying major course work or can enroll in a work-based co-op their freshman year. NC state is also known for its focus on research; nearly 70% of faculty members and over 2,500 grad students are engaged in it. The school is ranked #3 amongst non-medical school public universities in terms of industry-sponsored research.
19. (tie) University of Virginia
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia has long been centered on the idea that it is an institution creating the leaders of tomorrow. Ranked as the #2 public university by U.S. News, the school’s business/economics grads are highly valued by recruiters. In fact, many of the programs in Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce are highly ranked by U.S. News; management, finance, marketing, accounting, MIS, and international business all showed up in the top 25 in their respective categories.
Known as the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers’ grads also rank highly with recruiters in business/economics. The school is unique in that it was founded before America declared independence (in 1766), it is a public university, and it is a land grant college. Like many highly ranked public universities, Rutgers has a focus on research. The school is a member of the Association of American Universities, which comprises the top 61 research schools in the U.S. Rutgers also has 20 degree programs ranked within the top 10 in their field, nationally.
Notre Dame began as a religious institution in 1842, and has widely expanded its curriculum and reach over the past 150 years. The school now has a unique combination of worldly focus and service ethics. For example, Notre Dame’s graduates rank in the top 10 in earnings, according to PayScale’s “College Salary Report”; however, the school is also ranked 13th nationally for producing Peace Corps volunteers. Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business was ranked #1 for its undergraduate business program by BusinessWeek.
One of the few uber-selective colleges to make it into the Wall Street Journal’s list of schools valued by recruiters, Massachusetts Institute of Technology accepts just 10% of applicants. Since its founding in 1861, graduates have been going on to pioneer entirely new technological industries and fields, so it’s not too surprising that MIT has found its way into recruiters hearts. The school’s computer science grads rank #6 by recruiters, and engineering grads come up at #8. MIT currently has 5 schools, spanning 30 academic departments and programs.
Located in the heart of Los Angeles, this private California university enrolls more international students than any other higher education institution in America. Perhaps recruiters value USC graduates for the academic rigor of the school and the unique background of students; 12% of incoming freshman here are first-generation college students, and the average weighted GPA is above 4.0. Just under 30% of undergrads here are enrolled in majors in either the business or engineering school; these marketable skill sets might also contribute to the school’s recruiter popularity.
25. (tie) University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
UNC Chapel Hill is the flagship school of the public college system in North Carolina. While UNC-Chapel Hill is a state school, their admissions process is highly selective; the vast majority of the school’s incoming freshman are in the top 10% of their graduating high school class.
It’s not surprising that UNC has become so rigorous, as the school has been operating before many elite private schools in the nation were founded-it opened its doors in 1795. The school is consistently ranked among the top public universities in the world.
25. (tie) Washington State University
Washington’s original land-grant college, Washington State University, tied with UNC-Chapel Hill in the Wall Street Journal’s rankings. Like UNC, WSU is a public school that is consistently ranked in the top public research universities in the world.
Perhaps recruiters prefer WSU grads because they have a reputation for productivity and impact in their fields; for example, plant and animal scientists at WSU were ranked 13th in the world for their impact on the science community, according to Thompson Reuters. The school’s academic departments also partner with industry leaders, such as Boeing.