shutterstock_165071951Figuring out the value of a college education isn’t something that’s cut and dry, but a new rankings list is trying to do just that with business and economics degree programs. recently released its top 25 based on the potential earnings of graduates using data from

The full list is here, and we’ve highlighted the top 10 for you below…

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
2. Stanford University, Stanford, California
3. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
4. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
5. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7. Columbia University, New York City, New York
8. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
9. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
10. University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California

While lists like these are useful as part of your research into potential business schools, remember that ROI has more to do with you maximizing your educational experience. First off, you can’t go by the sticker prices of the schools because financial aid packages will vary. Second, two students could be in the same exact program of study, but only one ends up launching a high-income career because he/she had more drive, fell into a great opportunity, took a risk, knew someone, etc.

In other words, when it comes to degree ROI, there is no magic formula. It’s up to you be comfortable with the amount of debt you’ll assume when you enroll in a degree program. If you feel a program is too expensive, then keep looking – there are many high quality but less expensive business and economics degrees from which to choose. That’s not to say that paying for a more prestigious business program is a waste of money. On the contrary, if you get accepted into a highly selective school, it could potentially give you access to bigger and better opportunities down the line. But again, nothing is set in stone.

More important than which school you attend is what you do while you’re there. Your goal should be to take advantage of every resource available to you during the program to put yourself in the best position to land a great job upon graduation. Really get a lot out of the coursework and refine your skills. Network your butt off. Visit the career center often. Make connections with your professors, who likely work in the field. Attend seminars and events. Do internships.

The piece of paper your degree is printed on is just that if you don’t do anything meaningful with it.

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