On Saturday, President Obama announced a website called College Scorecard, which is likely the closest he will get to a 2013 proprosal to create a college ranking system that aimed to point out high-cost, low-quality schools. But after much disagreement from college presidents, instead of grading each school, the new website arranges colleges into categories.

Selecting by major for four-year colleges, the first option is the agriculture category. With 539 results, it is quickly clear that it includes far more than the land-grant agriculture programs in the U.S.

Why exactly Stanford is included in these results is unclear, as a search of Stanford’s majors shows no agriculture programs, but instead biology and two environmental majors are available. After that, the renowned school’s low annual cost ($15,713), high graduation rate (95%) and huge salary ($80,900) put it in the top spot for percent of earnings above simply high school graduation.

Even more puzzling are the urban third and fourth place schools, George Washington University and Drexel, within the city limits of Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, respectively.

Despite a few head-scratchers, the land-grant schools quickly file in. However, all the rankings are based on the entire school’s results, and not the results for that individual major. In other words, if agriculture is the worst major at a great school, or the best at a poor school, this will not be reflected.

Other bugs appear when schools are lumped together for average salary after attending, like the University of Connecticut’s campuses who hold spots 10-14. Further, while salary after attending rankings do matter, it does not take into account the cost of living where those salaries are earned. Stanford’s mouth-watering $80,900 starting salary would mean a lot a few hours away on a dairy farm in the Central Valley, but much less trying to pay rent in nearby Mountain View, Calif., where Google holds headquarters.

Likewise, many schools on the east and west coasts are likely favored due to higher average salaries in those regions.

The point is – and President Obama’s mission was – to encourage high school seniors to stay away from the lowest ranking schools in terms of cost versus future salary, considering graduation rates.

The best feature of the search is looking for colleges in your geographic area, by selecting specific states or choosing a radius around a zip code, for both two and four year schools.

College football fans take note; neither Ohio State nor Alabama made the top 30. Ohio State would be in the “others receiving votes category” around ranking #100.

Below are the rankings of schools with some type of agriculture program, by the percent increase in salary after high school graduation, for category “Agriculture, Agriculture Operations, and Related Sciences Option.” Land Grants and polytechnic colleges are in bold.

Top 30 "ag" colleges for the money

 

School

School average yearly cost

School graduation rate

School salary after attending

1.

Stanford University

$15,713

95%

$80,900

2.

Cornell University

$26,484

93%

$70,900

3.

George Washington University

$30,206

80%

$64,500

4.

Drexel University

$33,742

67%

$61,100

5.

Virginia Tech

$19,993

83%

$57,900

6.

Maryland-College Park

$16,299

83%

$59,100

7.

Simmons College

$29,085

69%

$51,400

8.

University of Delaware

$15,998

81%

$54,300

9.

Texas A&M College Station

$10,912

79%

$52,900

10.

University of Connecticut – Tri-Campus

$8,846

51%

$53,900

11.

University of Connecticut – Avery Point

$10,141

48%

$53,900

12.

University of Connecticut – Stamford

$8,438

58%

$53,900

13.

University of Connecticut, Storrs

$19,431

83%

$53,900

14.

Texas Christian University (TCU)

$31,257

76%

$49,100

15.

Cal Poly – SLO

$17,112

71%

$60,900

16.

University of Wisconsin - Madison

$18,387

82%

$51,000

17.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

$18,798

84%

$56,600

18.

Iowa State University

$14,336

69%

$47,200

19.

Purdue University

$15,543

70%

$52,600

20

North Dakota State

$14,404

53%

$46,300

21.

Park University

$12,335

42%

$43,900

22.

University of Minnesota

$17,208

74%

$47,800

23.

Texas Tech

$15,403

60%

$46,100

24.

North Carolina State

$13,164

72%

$47,500

25.

Washington – Seattle

$11,904

81%

$52,100

26.

Clemson University

$12,377

82%

$49,400

27.

Michigan State

$16,507

78%

$49,800

28.

Rutgers

$19,770

80%

$54,800

29.

Upper Iowa University

$17,602

40%

$40,300

30.

California Berkeley

$13,769

91%

$62,700

Source: U.S. Department of Education