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NIU education worth the money, survey shows

January 1, 2013

NIU campus in autumnCollege costs money. Lots of money.

But those dollars are, of course, an investment – a down payment of sorts on the kind of prosperity that the achievement of a higher education can provide.

NIU students who wonder whether it’s worth the financial strain can take this to the bank: It is.

The university ranks in the top third of’s College Return on Investment Package, which measures “what you pay to attend versus what you get back in lifetime earnings.”

Data is collected from employees who successfully completed PayScale’s employee survey. Only employees who hold bachelor’s degrees (and no advanced degrees) are included.

At No. 401, NIU is ranked third among the 12 public, four-year institutions in Illinois. Only the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (No. 50) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (370) are higher.

Meanwhile, only three schools in the Mid-American Conference placed above NIU: Miami (107), UMASS (233) and Buffalo (270). Half of the MAC schools are in PayScale’s bottom half.

Logo of PayScale.comCompared with the in-state public universities on the PayScale list, NIU ascends to No. 120 of 395. NIU’s mid-career salary rank for state schools climbs even higher, to a top-quarter position of 108 out of 452.

The typical starting salary after graduation for an NIU alum is $42,600.

“We certainly are really proud to be in the top third in the nation,” said Cindy Henderson, executive director of Career Services at NIU.

“I could argue that that we can remove the U. of I. and UIC from those top two spots – they’re so different because one is a Top 10 school and the other urban – which means NIU would be first among its peer schools in the state,” Henderson added. “To rank so high in the State of Illinois, where most of our students come from and then work after graduation, certainly meets the expectation that they and their families have for when they leave NIU with a degree.”

Cindy Henderson

Cindy Henderson

Students who want to enhance their marketability and achieve their employment goals can find all the help they need at NIU Career Services, which hosts several career fairs each semester and offers online postings for internships, part-time jobs and full-time employment.

Other services available include individual career counseling, résumé and cover letter preparation, practice interviews and credential services for educators.

Workshops are held on interviewing, networking, job search strategies, business dining etiquette and career-decision making.

For more information about Career Services, call (815) 753-1641, email [email protected] or visit Room 220 of the Campus Life Building.