UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh encourages students, especially girls, at Voyager Middle School in Everett to consider studying STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses.

UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh encourages students, especially girls, at Voyager Middle School in Everett to consider studying STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses.

UW Bothell is winner for pocketbook

  • By Jennifer Sasseeen For The Herald Business Journal
  • Thursday, April 7, 2016 4:03pm
  • BusinessBothell

A bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington Bothell is worth more in dollars than one from any other four-year public university in Washington, according to a statewide study that compares earnings one year after graduation.

UW Bothell 2012 grads earned an average of $54,498 in 2013, compared to a $47,573 average for grads from all other campuses, said the study, which looked at earnings of 2008-2012 graduates one year later.

The figure for median earnings (meaning half are higher, half lower) is $49,474 for UW Bothell and $41,381 for all others, including UW Seattle median grad earnings of $40,065 and a UW Tacoma median of $40,183.

Second highest in median earnings is Bellevue College at $48,200 and lowest is The Evergreen State College at $30,200.

The gender gap in wages is also negligible at UW Bothell, with women graduates earning 99.5 percent of male graduates’ wages, according to an analysis done by the UW Bothell Office of Institutional Research and replicated at the state level. That compares to 87 percent for women graduates on all UW campuses, which is still higher than the national average for women’s wages of 79 percent that of men’s and the statewide average of 77 percent.

One reason for the narrowness of the earnings gap for UW Bothell women may be the larger proportion of women in the school’s nursing program, the analysis notes.

UW Bothell is the fastest-growing, four-year university in the state, going from an enrollment of 1,884 in 2007 — a year after the Legislature allowed the school to start accepting freshmen — to 5,279 in fall 2015. It has been nationally ranked by Money Magazine for two years in a row as the best university in Washington in terms of value and quality.

The higher earnings of UW Bothell grads can be at least partially attributed to the school’s large number of graduates in high-demand professions like computer science and engineering, business and the health fields.

Created in 2013, UW Bothell’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is its fastest-growing school. Discovery Hall, a 74,000-square-foot state-of-the-art science and academic building with 11 labs and space for 1,000 students, opened in fall 2014. Of the school’s 45-plus degree programs, 33 were added in the last seven years, 14 of which are in STEM.

Of equal impact are UW Bothell’s learning strategies, or the “three Cs”, that help graduates succeed in the workplace, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Susan Jeffords said in a news release. They are community engagement, linking classroom learning with issues in the real world; cross-disciplinarity, requiring students to learn across fields; and connected learning, building interconnected relationships among students, faculty and staff.

Twenty-two-year-old Eleanor Wort, who graduated from UW Bothell in 2015 with a degree in applied computing, said she agrees with all those points. She spent her freshman year at Washington State University in Pullman, where lecture halls of 200 to 300 students are not uncommon.

“In a way, it was kind of like I was another number,” she said.

She found her feet at Bothell, where the average class size is 29, and formed close relationships that lasted through college and into her career.

A quarter spent abroad in Spain in cultural studies — totally unrelated to her STEM field — actually helped her get her current job at Microsoft, Wort said. Charged with giving a presentation on “something I was passionate about” for one of her interviews, she said she chose to compare women in STEM across cultures.

UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh, in a recent visit to Voyager Middle School in Everett, cautioned girls not to let anyone discourage them from STEM.

“Women are just as talented, just as capable, just as qualified to go into STEM as men,” he said, and they should resist social pressures that have long pushed women away from STEM.

“If your passion is in the performance arts or your passion is in writing,” he said, “then pursue performance arts, pursue writing.

“But if your passion is in science, don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it.”

For those with the interest and the ability, a STEM degree can really pay off. Wort said she actually knew she had the Microsoft job long before graduation in November 2014.

While declining to give her exact salary, she said it’s between $70,000 and $80,000. At this point, she is looking to buy a house or condo, plans to stay in the area and would like to work for Microsoft throughout her career.

Positioned as UW Bothell is in the Eastside/Snohomish County biotech corridor, “There really is no better place to put a school,” Wort said, and the numbers are proving that.

“UW Bothell is really proving that they are doing well and that they are here to stay,” she said.

Compiled by the Education Research and Data Center — part of the Office of Financial Management in Olympia — the earnings figures are just a snapshot of the kind of information being collected to help match students to the workplace. The program was set in motion in May 2007, when then-Gov, Christine Gregoire signed an order creating the “P-20 Council” to implement goals outlined in the November 2006 “Washington Learns” report.

The idea was to improve student success from kindergarten through college.

Where once universities and other agencies had to rely on student surveys for information on which programs needed improvement, longitudinal studies like the state’s earnings report give more “real” information because they’re based on actual data, said Tim Norris, data warehouse manager for the Education Research and Data Center.

To gather earnings records, a student’s name, birthdate and Social Security number are plugged into the data system and linked with the state’s Employment Security Department’s unemployment insurance wage records, he said.

To be included, an earner must be employed in Washington, have worked all four quarters and have earned at least 75 percent of full-time hours at minimum wage or more.

Not included are earners who are self-employed, work outside the state or are employed by the federal government, according to the data center’s website. A few other earners might have been missed for various reasons, including that their school was not identified.

So while 910 UW Bothell students graduated with bachelor’s degrees in 2012, according to the school’s website under its Office of Planning and Budgeting, only 557 were counted in the earnings report.

That number was 2,767 of 7,914 graduates at UW in Seattle and 549 of 1,046 UW Tacoma graduates.Of 3,045 bachelor’s degrees awarded at Western Washington University in 2012, according to its Career Services Center, only 1,326 earnings’ records were counted in the report.And the 5,297 bachelor’s degrees awarded at all Washington State University campuses, according to the school’s Institutional Research data, resulted in 2,073 earnings records listed in the report.

Also not included is data for groups of fewer than 30 people, partly because data for small groups is likely to be less accurate and also because of privacy concerns, to lessen the possibility of anyone being publicly identified, the data center’s Norris said.

The data center does not have access to federal tax records, Norris said, but he is ever-mindful of security breaches that have been reported at agencies like the IRS.

“We can’t let it happen,” he said, which is why independent security evaluations are done every couple of years to ensure information at the data center is safeguarded.

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