A study from the prestigious Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Technological University fifth in the country for providing the most value-added in preparing its graduates for well-paying occupations. CBS MoneyWatch hailed the leaders identified in the study as the new “college superstars.”

The goal of the Brookings study was to go beyond the traditional rankings that reward colleges that primarily admit rich, smart students who can be expected to do better in their careers than most college graduates. Instead, the Brookings researchers wanted to determine if colleges actually made a difference in preparing their students for successful careers.

The report encompasses more data sources and covers many more of the over 6,100 two- and four-year colleges than the college rankings from U.S. News & World Report. It seeks to take into account student profiles and their majors when comparing the career outcomes of alumni from different colleges. The yardstick becomes the value-added by a school in comparison to its peer group.

The Brookings study notes that the five quality factors strongly associated with more successful economic outcomes for alumni are curriculum value, alumni skills, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) orientation, completion rates, and student aid.

“The college value-added measures developed in this report more accurately predict alumni economic outcomes for students with similar characteristics,” concluded the authors of the Brookings Institution study.

The study found that LTU added 18 percent more value – comparable to the California Institute of Technology – with respect to occupational earnings power compared to four-year institutions with similar characteristics and students. The study found that alumni skills, the share of graduates majoring in STEM fields and curriculum value strongly predict a college’s value added in preparing its graduates for well-paying occupations.

“The Brookings Institution study is further validation of the rigor and focus of LTU’s academic programs, the dedication of our faculty, and the high motivation and success of our alumni,” said Lawrence Tech President Virinder Moudgil.

The Brookings study found that the mid-career median salary for LTU alumni was $98,400.

See the Brookings report here.

LTU’s high ranking in the Brookings study is consistent with the university’s placement in the top 100 colleges and universities nationwide in recent PayScale College Salary Report, which measures the earning power of college graduates.

The average mid-career salary for recipients of bachelor’s degrees from LTU ranked 83rd among more than 1,000 colleges by Payscale. LTU ranked 90th for the salaries of graduates who received one or more additional degrees.

PayScale also reached the conclusion that students with STEM majors get the best return on their college investment. More than half of LTU graduates (55 percent) included in the PayScale survey majored in STEM subjects.