Business Insider has a list of the most underrated colleges in America. It’s essentially a comparison of graduate wages beside USNWR ratings and looking at the outliers. It’s a crude methodology, but illuminating all of the same.

The most obvious thing is the frequent appearance of technical schools. The New Jersey Institute of Technology is #1, Missour S&T is #5, Louisiana Tech is #8, Illinois Institute of Technology is #12, and Michigan Tech is #15 (with privates Clarkston and Stephens also up there). This is unsurprising, given the givens. I’m a little surprised not to see South Dakota School of Mines on the list, given that not long ago their graduates were outearning Harvard’s. Colorado School of Mines is there, though.

Land Grant universities are also represented from Arizona, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Utah, and Idaho. Notably, there are no state flagship universities on the list, excluding those that are also the land grants.

The University of Alabama at Huntsville is #10. UAH comes up when we talk about athletics programs. They’re a notably good one that doesn’t have any football program to speak of. Maybe they wouldn’t be so unrecognized if they fielded a football team.

Some, like UAH, Texas Tech, and Houston are aided by their proximity to economically hot areas, but that doesn’t seem to help the Dakota schools. And Michigan Tech is on the list, so there are limits to that theory.


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16 Responses to Underrated

  1. Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

    Go NJIT 🙂 First beating Michigan in MBB, now this.

    NJIT’s biggest drawback is its campus and the surrounding area, but that doesn’t seem to bother the future engineers.

  2. James Hanley says:

    I’m now envisioning an arena full of students chanting, “Underrated! [clap clap clap clap clap] Underrated!”

  3. Peter says:

    One thing that might help Alabama-Huntsville is a new name. It would get away from the stigma that affects at-city universities.

    • Trumwill says:

      Universities actually seem to prefer University of State at City. I kinda think it’s lame.

      • James Hanley says:

        There’s Portland State, Wayne State, Saginaw Valley State, etc., so some are avoiding the “state at city” approach. I wonder if the others go with the clunky sound because they think that link to the flagship university name (“Flagship State U at City”) makes them sound higher level?

        • Trumwill says:

          I’m pretty sure that’s the reason. I think most of the schools you mention aren’t in the University of State systems.

          Also, some flagship schools don’t want to dilute their brand.

          Personally, I think University of Southern Colorado was a way cooler name than CSU-Pueblo.

      • I think they’re riding off the name which attaches it to the larger and sometimes more prestigious system. University of California at Merced (which recently opened in 2005) sounds better than “CSU-Merced” or “Merced University”. If you’re aiming for regional flagship status, directional state college names don’t work, and X University can reek of a private school, and that could backfire.

        • trumwill says:

          California is a bit of a special case because the UC system is so well-regarded. In that context, UC-Merced is far and away better than Merced University, even though the latter would be better in almost any other context. UC-Davis is the only one I think should consider a name change, and even then I’m not sure.

          The CSU campuses, though, really should reconsider their name. Especially since two of the most well-regarded schools in the system (SDSU and SJSU) don’t. The others should follow their lead (Fullerton State, Northridge State, etc). Especially those already primarily known as City State U, like Fresno and Sacramento.

  4. Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

    The original 6 NJ directonal colleges started out as [City] State Teachers College. Then, once they started to expand their programs, they all became [City] State College.

    In the 1970’s, Paterson and Newark State Colleges wanted to distance themselves from their namesake cities, and became William Paterson College and Kean College, respectively.

    Glassboro State College, home of the Glassboro Summit Conference, became Rowan College due to a $100 million gift.

    Trenton State College became the College of New Jersey in order to distance itself from the other state colleges, while New Jersey City University wanted to distance itself from its namesake of Jersey City.

  5. Peter says:

    Central Connecticut State University opened over 150 years ago as the Connecticut Normal School. Around 1920 it changed its name to Connecticut State Teacher’s College. That moniker lasted less than 30 years, as in 1950 the institution became Central Connecticut State College. Finally, in the mid-1980’s “College” gave way to “University.”
    As recently as the late 1990’s there were still a few living Normal School graduates. They had seen their alma mater’s name change three times. A few of the older buildings on campus have dedication plaques with the Teacher’s College name, though I don’t believe any buildings survive from the Normal School era.
    Note: everyone calls the place “Central.”

    • trumwill says:

      I’m kind of surprised they haven’t tried to drop the non-directional and become just Connecticut State.

      • Peter says:

        There are three other Connecticut directional universities (Eastern, Western and Southern) that are equals in the official hirearchy. While Central is the best known of the three, Southern has a bigger enrollment.

        • Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

          While Central is the best known of the three

          Four?

        • trumwill says:

          That is an issue in Louisiana, and was in Texas as well. Sort of. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has had its eyes on being “The University of Louisiana” for quite some time, but other states in the University of Louisiana system, as well as LSU, object. So they got to change their name from Southwestern Louisiana, but only if another university also became UL. So UL-Lafayette and UL-Monroe have been battling for the name ever since.

          There was an attempt to do the same in Texas (within the Texas State system). Texas State University had to be Texas State-San Marcos for a while. However, since there were no other Texas States, nobody paid any attention to the “-San Marcos” and they were allowed to drop it some time later (but still cannot refer to themselves as TSU, because of Texas Southern).

  6. One of the schools on the list is Hofstra which is within a 10 minute drive of my home. It’s probably the best school on Long Island that isn’t Stony Brook, which was also featured on the list. From the time that I was picking schools, Hofstra was a local party school for somewhat ambitious kids, but it’s now starting to garner a national reputation and I’ve seen students from out of state attending now. It’s probably the only private school that I’d recommend on Long Island…

    FWIW, I applied to two of the schools on the list (Stevens and Stony Brook), attended Stevens. Hofstra told me no when I was booted from Stevens, but took my friend who did well there, and I eschewed applying for SJU because I didn’t see them as a real option for my original career path, but a sizable chunk of my Catholic high school’s graduating class went there by default.

    • Peter says:

      Stony Brook is definitely an underrated university. My stepdaughter and stepson both graduated from there, in 2009 and 2014 respectively, and they got very good educations. Its low profile is mainly because it’s part of the SUNY system, which seems to be an afterthought even in the state, in addition Stony Brook is only about 50 years old.

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