money hand

Last week, Forbes released its annual college rankings. While there are lots of best-colleges lists out there, the Forbes ranking is interesting because of its focus on finances. 

In one of the rankings, Forbes attempts to measure each college’s return on investment (ROI) by analyzing how grateful graduates are for their education–which they measure by looking at how many alums donate, and how much they give. Topping the ROI list are a couple of Ivies (Princeton, Dartmouth), as well as many of the top-ranking private liberal arts colleges (Amherst, Williams). “t would appear that colleges with smaller class sizes and more intimate educational experiences are a key factor in producing successful happy alums,” Forbes notes.

Johns Hopkins is the highest ranking school in Maryland, coming in at number 30. But a closer look at Hopkins’s numbers reveals something interesting: Only 12% of alums have donated in the past 3 years, a much lower number than other comparable schools. (For example, 48% of Amherst alums give back to their school, as do 35% of Middlebury graduates.) But when Hopkins alumni do donate, they give a lot: a median donation of $23,707, to be specific.

I can think of one obvious explanation for the discrepancy: Michael Bloomberg’s billion-dollar donation is skewing the numbers. Even so, it’s interesting to consider why Hopkins students aren’t giving back at the same rate as their peers in comparable institutions.