Harvard may have the fancy name, but people who go to the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology made more money after graduation this year, with a median starting salary of $56,700 compared to the Cantab median of $54,100. The data comes from the 2011-2012 PayScale College Salary Report via Joe Richter of Bloomberg, who explains there is a labor shortage in the mining industry and fewer schools are offering mining-engineering degrees. Almost no Harvard grads go into the field. In South Dakota, Richter writes, "those scheduled to leave the campus in Rapid City, South Dakota, in May are already getting offers, at a time when about one in 10 recent U.S. college graduates is out of work."
But starting salaries are not everything. At mid-career, according to PayScale, Harvad grads pass their School of Mines contemporaries with a media salary of $116,000 compared to the Hardrockers' $96,300. Of course, if money is your only object, neither of these schools are at the top of PayScale's list of graduate salaries. MIT grads have the largest starting median salaries at $69,700 while it's Princeton grads who have the largest mid-career salaries at $130,000.