Did you know that the salaries of public university professors are public record? Could you think of a better statistic to look at when deciding what to study in college?

Professionals with real-world value are harder to woo into public service. They're expensive. The most profitable majors will have the highest-paid faculty, and the best schools will pay more to attract top talent.

This was actually a class project when I was a journalism student at Western Kentucky University. We requested the records and analyzed the data in Excel.

One thing that stood out to me was how much more accounting professors made than anyone else. They averaged six figures, which was way more than the rest of the faculty.

Sure enough, years later, the people I know who got the most financial gain out of college are accountants.

Of course not everyone wants to be an accountant. But if you want to write for a living, wouldn't it be nice to know if English, public relations, or journalism is more lucrative? And wouldn't it be nice to see which school can attract the more expensive talent?

Some faculty salary records are easily available online. Check the college's website, or as user madhatter suggests in this Houston Chronicle forum thread, try searching for "[statename] state employee salaries." Many newspapers also compile their own databases with this information.

Some colleges will take a little legwork. For those, you can start by calling the school's reference library or human resources office. You may have to jump through hoops, but one way or the other, they have to provide the info.

Your effort could be worth a fortune.