Illinois Colleges With the Best 'Value-Added'

05/04/2015 03:24 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2016

It doesn't seem like going to college at any school would have a negative impact on a student. But some schools offer more value to students than others, even when those schools are similar based on traditional rankings standards. The Brookings Institution looked at colleges and universities in Illinois to determine their "value-added" -- how useful it is for a student to attend a particular school over a similar school.

The authors of the report write that they tried to focus on aspects of value-added in relation to the schools, not in relation to a student's background or academic achievement:

Drawing on government and private sources, this report analyzes college "value-added," the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and the outcomes one would expect given a student's characteristics and the type of institution. Value-added captures the benefits that accrue from aspects of college quality we can measure, such as graduation rates and the market value of the skills a college teaches, as well as aspects we can't.

This infographic from the Brookings Institution explains the calculations:


One measure that can indicate the value-added of an education at a particular school is an alumnus' mid-career salary compared with that of a similar student with a similar background in a similar job who attended a similar (but not the same) university.

The value added by the school to a graduate's mid-level career salary could come from the relative name recognition of that school, the connections of professors, the location of the school, the availability of internships and many other, possibly unknowable, factors.

Here are five Illinois colleges with some of the best value-added of schools in the state.

15. Illinois State University


14. Illinois Wesleyan University


13. National Louis University


12. Western Illinois University


11. Northern Illinois University


Check out Reboot Illinois to see the state's top 10 colleges with the highest value-added. Plus, see five schools in Illinois whose graduates actually make less at the mid-career mark than their peers who went to similar colleges.

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