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Ohio University puts Ohio State to shame in ‘The Economist’ college rankings

Ohio University sits more than 500 spots ahead of Ohio State in a college ranking compiled by a UK-based publication.

Ohio State usually trounces Ohio University.

OSU’s endowment is larger, average ACT score is higher and acceptance rate is lower.

And the Bobcats have never beaten the Buckeyes in football. Ever.

But by one measure — value added to alumni earnings — the green and white is putting the scarlet and gray to shame.

The Economist, a UK-based global news and economics magazine, recently ranked more than 1,000 four-year colleges by alumni earnings versus expected earnings, and OU sits more than 500 spots north of OSU on the list.

“Alumni earnings versus expected earnings” is a little complex, so let’s break it down: The Economist looked at how much OU graduates earn, and compared that to what they might have earned had they studied at another university.

It did this by analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. Here, they took the real earnings of university alumni and stacked them against an estimate of what they could have earned based on average SAT scores, racial ratios on campus, religious affiliation and a host of other demographics.

Colleges were then ranked from biggest positive spread to biggest negative spread, meaning if alumni of a specific university should have earned $50,000 per year but actually earned $100,000 per year,The Economist credits their alma mater for that extra $50,000.

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This puts OU in the middle of the road — 746th out of a possible 1,275. The Economist’s data says OU alumni earn around $850 less per year than if they had studied elsewhere.

Oregon State, Western Kentucky and Saint John’s are all ranked within ten spots of OU.

Compare that to OSU, whose alumni earn almost $9,000 less than they could have, according to The Economist’s estimates. That puts the university 10 spots away from the bottom rung of the ladder, though very selective institutions like Yale and Rice University are even closer to the bottom.

This might just be a function of the way the list was tabulated, The Economist points out.

Since the rankings are based entirely on income, a university that attracts bright students and send them to work in low-paying, albeit important, fields would be expected to score poorly.

For example: Swarthmore College, a tiny liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, ranks 1,261st, but has produced five Nobel Prize winners.

The opposite is also true. Alderson Broaddus University, a small private university in West Virginia, ranks in the top 99 percentile of the list. It’s alumni were expected to earn little more than $30,000 per year, but ended up closer to $40,000.

Miami ranks a little higher than OSU, but is still nearly 450 spots behind OU.


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