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"Colleges That Pay You Back - 2015 Edition" (2015 publication; 463 pages) is from the same publisher (The Princeton Review) which brings a number of other college-search books, including the excellent "The Best 379 Colleges" (beware, that number changes yearly). So why the need for this new book? Two things that I can surmise: (1) the "Best Colleges" book, which originally started out at 250, is creeping towards 400 now, and in need of a trim, frankly; and (2) given the cost of attending college, it has become more paramount than ever for colleges to demonstrate that going there is a good "bang-for-the-buck" or "return on investment".
The book opens with a number of handy lists bringing us "Great Schools for the Highest Paying Majors" (looks like any kind of engineering major is the way to go, but in particular Petroleum Engineering, with its eye-popping median starting salary of $103,000). Other fun lists include the Top 50 Colleges That Pay back, Best Schools for Internships, etc. After that we get the School Profiles, and if you are familiar with the "Best Colleges" book, it will immediately look very familiar. Each school gets 2 pages, divided into several charts, data and subject matters. I carefully looked at the entries of a couple of schools that appear in both the "Best Colleges" and this new book, and what I found was that the popular "Survey Says" segment from the "Best Colleges" book is no longer, but instead we get the all-important "Career Information from Payscale.com", where the editors post the ROE ("Return on Investment"), based on such factors as median starting salary, median mid-career salary, % alumni who recommend school, % alumni with high job meaning and satisfaction, etc. I cannot independently verify to what degree these ratings are real or bogus, but based on the high reputation of The Princeton Review, I'll go with it unless someone demonstrates these ratings are bogus. I am most familiar with colleges in Ohio (where I live and my oldest went to college) and DC (where I and my youngest went), and it's hard to argue with the colleges that made the cut (such as Miami University, with an ROE of 89, and GW, with an ROE of 85, just to name those). I am impressed with the fact that the tuition and the room & board numbers have been updated again from the most recent "Best Colleges", which came out just last July. I look at those numbers, and just shake my head in disbelief (GW, which I attended in the mid-80s, now costs $64,745/yr... say what?!?).
Bottom line: I am finding this to be a nice addition in the Princeton Review catalog of college-search books, and it works in particularly well in combination with the "Best Colleges" book. This is not the first book that anyone new to the college-search process will want to consult, but once you have narrowed your list of top target colleges, and assuming they make the cut of these 200 best value colleges as profiled here, this will be essential reading. "Colleges That Pay You Back" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!