U.S. News and World Report has long ranked the best colleges in the nation. Many people have complained that those rankings are too simple and easily gamed and encourage administrations to prioritize their ranking over students' education. Students frequently apply to the report's top schools while ignoring colleges lower on the list that are just as good and might actually be a better fit. Most importantly in today's job market, the rankings don't account for any outputs -- that is, whether students get a good education and then good jobs.
Now, with the power of big data, we can begin to answer that question. LinkedIn analyzed the career paths of its members and has developed new rankings for the schools that are best at launching candidates into various career paths, including software development. Contrary to popular belief, Stanford is not the best college to get a job in programming. In fact, Stanford doesn't even make the top five. Read on to find out more.
Determining the best colleges for software developers
LinkedIn is a Web-based professional network for job seekers, recruiters, and anyone else interested in business. To determine the best colleges for any field, LinkedIn first analyzed the employment patterns of its more than 300 million members to determine desirable companies for professionals in each field. Says LinkedIn: "The most desirable companies in a profession are those that are the best at attracting and retaining talent in that profession." For software developers, those include Google, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Amazon.com, and numerous others.
LinkedIn considered "relevant graduates" for each profession to be those who had graduated in the past eight years and now work in that profession.
Finally, to determine the best colleges, LinkedIn ranked schools by the percentage of relevant graduates who have obtained desirable jobs. Applying that methodology to software developers leaves us with LinkedIn's best colleges for software developers as of 2014.
You can see LinkedIn's full list of the top 25 best schools for software developers. Stanford comes in at No. 9.
Carnegie Mellon is one of the nation's top research-focused universities and has always had a top-ranked computer science program. Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science was established in 1965, and its faculty and graduates have made numerous advances in the fields of computer science, machine learning, and robotics, among others. Some well-known inventions to come out of the school include the smiley-face emoticon, the first large-scale search engine, the CAPTCHA verification test, self-driving cars, the Mars Rover, and the language learning app Duolingo.
The other universities on the list are all outstanding schools for learning computer science. You can get an incredible education anywhere so long as you are willing to devote the time and effort, but at these schools you are surrounded by like-minded learners and faculty who are on the cutting edge of their field.
The most important thing
As I've written before, the secret to a successful life is a growth mind-set, which means you must believe you can change life for the better. Just as there are different paths to success, no single school is perfect for you. As Warren Buffett has shown, people who succeed in life are those who never stop learning.
Today, you don't even have to go to a college to learn a skill set. There are many new opportunities to learn programming outside of traditional universities. From paid programs at the bleeding edge of online programming education such as OneMonth and Code School, to free sites like Codeacademy and Coursera, it has never been easier to learn.
Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak, on his Facebook page DanDzombak, or on his blog where he writes about investing, happiness, life, and the secret of success in life. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.