What makes a college ‘worth the money’?

A survey by a website that evaluates higher education choices has listed an area college on its list of colleges that aren’t worth the money.

In doing so, StartClass.com might rekindle an old debate: What is higher education all about, anyway? Is it for a big payday at a career, or shaping a more well-rounded individual?

StartClass chooses the former; its list evaluates the cost of a four-year degree against the median salaries for an institution’s alumni. Twenty-two of the 25 schools on the list reported six-year median salaries less than the median high school completion salary of $30,000.

The liberal arts Macalester College in St. Paul ranked #15. The six-year median salary of graduates is $28,400; the 10-year median is $45,700. Tuition is about $16,000 more than the average tuition at Minnesota private four-year colleges, and $30,000 more than the average Minnesota college. But the Macalester grad earns slightly less than both, the survey claims.

Anthropologists at Macalester are doing their part, though. Average starting salary for Macalester grads in the program is about $80,000. Graduates with global and international studies degree start at about $40,000.

At the same time, however, StartClass ranks Macalester at #16 on its list of best liberal arts schools in the country.