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Which MN colleges have the biggest impact on graduates' earnings?

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Graduates of Carleton College and a community college in Fergus Falls can expect to make more money than those who attended similar schools, a Brookings Institution report shows.

The report "Beyond the College Rankings," released Wednesday, aims to figure out how much a college actually contributes to the economic success of their graduates.

It ranked comparable schools using what's called a value-added score in an attempt to evaluate them on an even playing field – basically, what can a student expect to earn based on their background going into college; and what did they actually earn after going to a certain school.

Brookings' report is unique for many reasons, Inside Higher Ed says. It covers more schools than other popular rankings (which tend to base lists on acceptance criteria) and adjusts for the traits of students the schools accept.

“Colleges serve very diverse populations. The advantage of measuring value added is that it adjusts a school’s rankings based on the type of college and the characteristics of its student body," Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell said in a news release.

"We thought it would be much better to have a value-added system than one that rewards elite colleges for attracting the most-prepared students," he told Inside Higher Ed.

Here's a look at how Minnesota schools ranked:

Carleton among top 1 percent

Carleton College ranks in the top 1 percent of comparable four-year universities when it comes to value added, joining the ranks of well-known schools such as MIT and the California Institute of Technology, which all had value-added scores of 100 (the highest possible).

Graduates of the private liberal arts school in Northfield can expect to make $117,700 by midcareer – or 43 percent more than they would have if they'd gone to a comparable school instead, the report found.

The Star Tribune spoke with Paul Thiboutot, Carleton’s vice president and dean of admissions, who said this reinforces that a Carleton education is a good investment.

"There's certainly a substantial investment in the cost of education," Thiboutot told the newspaper. "We hope we can show there's a worthwhile return."

Many other four-year schools in Minnesota were listed in the report, with the next highest value-added score given to St. Thomas University in St. Paul. Graduates can expect to earn $91,900, or 24.5 percent more than graduates of a comparable school by midcareer.

Two-year schools

Graduates of Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls can also expect to see more financial success compared to those who graduate from a comparable two-year school, the report found.

On average, graduates from the community college earned $59,900 – that's 13 percent more than graduates of similar schools at midcareer, the report notes.

The school has a value-added score of 97.

Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount was the next highest two-year school in Minnesota with a value-added score of 86.

Graduates from there can expect to earn 7 percent more than graduates from a comparable school, or $58,000, by midcareer.

Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute is a nonprofit think tank that conducts independent research.

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