While Ivy League graduates make enough money to comfortably raise a family, a liberal arts graduate barely reaches the American median household income. While Harvard grads can expect to bring in $87,200 10 years out from graduating, Knox students make $41,600 — just $400 under the ACM median.
According to government data, Knox graduates are making nearly the same as their counterparts at peer institutions in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, but much less than alumni from larger institutions.
It’s not surprising that most ACM graduates make nearly the same amount, according to Terrie Saline, Assistant Director of the Career Center.
“They’re all liberal arts grads. We have similar students. We compete with one another to get the same type of a student, so therefore the results, I’m assuming, are going to be very similar when you look at those,” Saline said.
The College Scorecard, released early last month, offers information on nearly 7,000 colleges and universities across the United States. It breaks down how much the average graduate makes 10 years after graduating, what the graduation rate is and the average annual cost. The scorecard also offers a demographic breakdown and data on the socioeconomic diversity of the college.
Students who attended Lake Forest College were said to make $48,100 a year, placing them at the top of the ACM. At the lower boundary, Beloit College graduates allegedly make $37,900 a year.
Saline also suspects that a change in income could be because liberal arts grads don’t always jump into their field after college — many pursue grad school or the Peace Corps.
Any small changes between ACM schools may be a result of a small change in majors, like a business degree.
Still, the median ACM salary pales in comparison to larger institutions — graduates from MIT, for example, make $91,600 on average. University of Illinois graduates make $56,600.
But this may be more a reflection of the major that’s pursued at the college than of the college itself. While Harvard students are studying social sciences and biological sciences, the majority of Knox students study social sciences and English literature, followed by education. A mere nine percent of Knox’s alumni base studied biological and biomedical studies.
“If you’re a writing major you’re going to be pretty miserable doing a job in chemistry,” said Krista Nelson, Associate Director of the Career Center. While other schools may prompt students to think more seriously about post-grad income, Knox follows a mentality of asking students what makes them happy.
“That’s what Knox is all about … we encourage our students to follow what they want to do and not look so much to the monetary gain that they’re going to get, or status,” Nelson said. “It’s about what they can see themselves doing for the next 10 to 40 years of their lives.”