UC Santa Barbara has a familiarity with Top 10 lists that rivals David Letterman’s.
U.S. News & World Report routinely ranks UCSB’s engineering and materials programs in the top 10 and this year ranked UCSB overall as No. 10 among public universities in the U.S.
But the top-10 ranking that came out a few weeks ago was a new one: UCSB was right there at No. 8 on the list of “Best U.S. Colleges for Business Majors,” compiled by the personal finance website NerdWallet.
One interesting thing about this is that UCSB does not have a business major. It has an economics major. Students in that program can choose an emphasis in either accounting or mathematics.
But NerdWallet researchers took a broad view of their task, and they included schools that offer only economics, accounting or other business-type majors.
The website’s rankings put a lot of weight on value. The scores were compiled using five factors, only one of which, the median SAT score, relates to a university’s prestige. The other factors were in-state tuition, average financial aid package, average student debt and the median salary of a graduate after 10 years.
UCSB scored well in every measure, but perhaps the most striking was the median salary of its graduates: $102,000 a year. The median of the top 100 universities was $88,900 a year.
“If you’re looking for a good job, this is a nice way to go,” said Peter Rupert, chairman of UCSB’s economics department.
A handful of the department’s graduates, starting with Jeff Henley in the 1960s, have gone on to become billionaires or close to it, Rupert noted.
The NerdWallet rankings point out two essential and often overlooked truths.
First, the University of California remains a first-class institution and an excellent value. Four of the top 10 schools for business students were UC campuses. UC Berkeley was at the top of the list, UC Irvine was fifth and UCLA was No. 10.
The tuition at the UC campuses is between $12,000 and $14,000 per year, which is well below what students pay at similarly prestigious private schools. Georgetown University, for example, charges more than $42,000 a year in tuition. That allows UCSB economics students to keep a relatively sane average debt load of about $20,000.
“California really treats its higher education system as a crown jewel,” said Victoria Simons, a NerdWallet senior analyst and one of two lead researchers on the project. “People come from all over the country and the world to come to the UC system.”
The second thing to take from these rankings is that, when you’re a 17-year-old choosing a college, you shouldn’t get hung up on the practicality of your major. A business degree is fine preparation for a career in a variety of fields. An economics education from a top-tier university is that, too. It is also an intellectual foundation, a way of looking at the world and understanding human behavior.
“We want to give these kids a really good foundation they can build on,” Rupert said. “I’ve heard this from many employers. Accounting firms, they’ll say, ‘Your students really understand the underlying economics. They understand the work, whereas a lot of students from other programs, they know rule 27.3 really well, and that’s it.’”
In other words, employers are happy to teach promising new hires whatever they need to know about marketing or accounting.
The chance to spend four years on purely intellectual pursuits isn’t going to come again after college.
One ‘cool school’
UCSB ranked No. 18 on a recent list of America’s greenest universities, published by Sierra, the official magazine of the Sierra Club.
Like the NerdWallet list of best colleges for business, Sierra’s “Cool Schools” list was dominated by the University of California. UC Irvine was at the top, followed by UC Davis. UC San Diego and UC Berkeley were also in the top 10.
Sierra scored each college in 11 areas, including food, handling of campus waste, academics, water usage and green energy. UCSB had perfect scores in innovation and planning, and also scored well in waste.
Riordan coming to Cal Lutheran
Richard Riordan, mayor of Los Angeles from 1993 to 2001, will speak at California Lutheran University on Sept. 10.
Business Times Editor and Chairman Henry Dubroff will moderate the conversation with Riordan, which will begin at 7:30 a.m. in Lundring Events Center. The event is sponsored by the CLU School of Management, where Dubroff is a member of the advisory board.
Tickets are $45, and $25 for CLU students and alumni. For more information, visit www.callutheran.edu/management.