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The Wall Street Journal debuts new ranking for undergraduate colleges

NEW YORK — The Wall Street Journal released a new education ranking series in which recruiters identified the top 25 undergraduate universities that produce the best graduates according to academic strength, communication, and leadership skills based on their hiring experience.

Pennsylvania State University took the top spot with other schools ranked as follows: Purdue University (5); University of Florida (10); Rutgers University (22); and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (23).

The “Paths to Professions” results appear in The Wall Street Journal with additional features and tools on WSJ.com (http://wsj.com/paths). The package includes school rankings, articles, advice, and online tools to help high school students, new college students, and their parents think strategically about applying to schools and choosing a major that will give them the greatest chance at a successful career.

Nearly 500 recruiters — whose companies hired approximately 43,000 new college graduates in the past year — were surveyed and asked to choose from among 100-plus top colleges and universities that they believe produce the highest caliber graduates. The survey also ranks recruiters’ picks for the best schools by major, including accounting, business/economics, computer science, marketing/advertising, engineering, finance, and more.

Key findings of the survey indicate that recruiters prefer to recruit at state schools instead of Ivy League or elite private schools (19 of the 25 top schools were public). An internship is the No. 1 way to get a foot in the door. More than a quarter of companies reported that 50 percent or more of their new college graduate hires had interned with their firm during college; almost 20 percent said more than 75 percent did the same.

The accompanying articles provide insight and advice on topics including how companies select where to recruit and which schools to forge deep relationships with; the influence a CEO has on recruiting; what skills that recruiters say new grads are most lacking; why knowing who recruits on campus is increasingly a factor in selecting a college; and why a school's location matters for future employment and to recruiters.

The Journal also looks at career paths and jobs that, according to BLS and PayScale data, are poised for growth, pay well, offer opportunity for advancement, and are satisfying.

Several interactive features are available on WSJ.com: The “Explore a Path to a Profession” tool allows users to select a career path or major and then select important job aspects, including pay, location, opportunities for promotion, and personal satisfaction measures such as flexible hours. The result is a list of career paths and jobs associated with a major and narrowed by their choices — or a list of majors associated with a career path, narrowed by their choices. In addition, an interactive Happiness Index, ranking the satisfaction levels across careers included in the ranking, allows users to input their own happiness levels based on their career paths.

WSJ.com also features dedicated pages for 12 career paths, with information on which majors are most associated with those paths, details of jobs that are on the path — including growth, pay, and satisfaction levels — what type of personality fits best on each path, the rankings of majors most common to the path, and how to rise from entry level up the ladder.

The survey was created in collaboration with Boston-based human resource consultant Cambria Consulting to provide a ranking of U.S. colleges and majors that is purposefully practical and limited in scope. The questions were designed to help identify the schools that are most likely to help students land a job in key careers and professions — areas that are growing, pay well, and offer high levels of satisfaction.

The complete survey methodology is available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704358904575478074223658024.html.

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