Falling from first and second-place finishes in recent years, Dartmouth placed sixth in PayScale's 2011-2012 College Salary Report, which ranks schools according to their graduates' average salaries at various points in their careers. The median starting salary for a Dartmouth graduate is $51,600, while the median mid-career salary for alumni totals $114,000, according to the report released on Tuesday,
Dartmouth finished second in the 2010 rankings and first in 2008 and 2009.
Although the College's median starting salary is low compared to the other schools in PayScale's top 10, the lower placement on the list may also be due to the fact that many Dartmouth alumni work for non-profit organizations early in their careers before moving to more profitable private sector jobs, several students interviewed by The Dartmouth said.
PayScale, an online database of employee and employer salaries, cited Dartmouth's strong alumni presence across the country, particularly in chief executive officer positions.
Riley Ennis '15, who plans to pursue a career in business, said he is not surprised by the ranking given that many Dartmouth alumni who initially pursue careers in the public sector eventually go on to secure high-paying jobs in the financial industry.
"Dartmouth alums are awesome," he said. "They give us great connections."
Ennis, who is a member of the Dartmouth Entreprenur Society, said undergraduate students benefit from the presence of Tuck School of Business, which was recently ranked the number one full-time MBA program in the world by The Economist. Opportunities to interact with current Tuck students and the ability to take graduate-level classes at Tuck prepare undergraduate students for professional careers, according to Ennis.
Some students, however, are less optimistic about the current job market, even for graduates of top-tier universities like Dartmouth.
Aleschia Hyde '12, a government major, said that while the ranking is positive for the College, it does not guarantee that its students particularly those who hope to pursue careers in fields other than finance will be successful in their job searches.
"It gives me hope, but with this economy, it doesn't give me too much comfort," she said. "Maybe three to four years ago it would have meant more."
There is more pressure at Dartmouth than at some other institutions to secure entry-level positions as early in senior year as possible, according to Hyde.
"The general thought is that if you don't have a job by January, you won't get one," Hyde said. "This is different from other schools where if you don't have a job until March, you'll probably still be fine."
The combination of the "top-notch faculty" and "cutting-edge research" that Dartmouth offers creates "well sought-after graduates" who possess the skills needed to pursue a career in a wide variety of fields, Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College, said.
"[The ranking] speaks to the high quality of education that Dartmouth undergrads receive," he said. "[The ranking] is gratifying because it shows that graduates have a choice."
Anderson emphasized that Dartmouth does not focus on achieving high rankings. The College instead seeks to provide all students with an opportunity to succeed in whatever career they ultimately choose, he said.
Dartmouth is joined in PayScale's top 10 list by fellow Ivy League schools Princeton University and Harvard University. Princeton finished first in the rankings with a median salary of $56,900 for recent graduates and a $130,000 median mid-career salary among its graduates. Harvard finished fourth in the rankings. The median starting salary for recent Harvard graduates is $54,100 while the median mid-career salary stands at $116,000, according to the rankings.