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MBA高薪神话:穿越数据迷雾

Anne VanderMey 2011年09月16日

商学院公布的毕业生平均薪酬听起来非常诱人,但即将攻读MBA的学生不能盲目听信这些纸面上的数字,因为数字统计背后大有文章,甚至有部分学校在数字上做手脚,因此它们并不能保证学生毕业后一定能获得丰厚的薪酬。

    MBA就业服务委员会需要克服的另外一个障碍是数据收集的方式。根据委员会制定的标准,所有信息必须来自于“可靠来源”,但关于可靠来源的标准却并不精确。可能是家长、雇主,或者“个人的了解”,这就留下了加工或者伪造数据的空间。

    威尔伯称:“我并不是说每所学校的就业报告都要做到完美无缺,因为这不可能实现。”但她认为,只要所有学校采取公开的、可比的方式进行报告,“我们的报告数据将更准确,继续遥遥领先于其他类型的专业学位学校。”

    有意攻读MBA,做好功课是关键

    大多数情况下,在统计上做手脚并不会显著影响一家商学院的就业状况。就业数据研究公司PayScale的艾尔•李表示,相反,有意攻读MBA的学生应该留意其他方面。他认为,学生应该提防所谓“幸福毕业生的片面性”,也就是说,与已经找到工作的同学相比,无业的毕业生不太可能报告他们的就业状况。

    有意攻读MBA的学生还应该注意,工资统计数据是以有工作的学生为基础,而高平均工资并不意味着毕业生的薪酬更高,而是因为低薪岗位数据被删除,以免它们拉低平均数。例如,李表示,官方报告显示,在经济衰退期间,高校毕业生总体平均薪酬实际出现上涨,因为只有优秀的学生找到了工作,而学生总体就业率却出现大幅下跌。

    有意攻读MBA的学生还应注意数据中所包含的毕业生类型。有些MBA毕业生之前便有高薪工作,毕业之后又回到原先的工作岗位。而有些毕业生则可能拥有多年的工作经验。谨慎的学生应该参考其目标行业的薪酬、独立行业薪酬统计数据,以及根据个人工作年限提供的起薪(当然,前提是学校报告中对此有所涉及)。

    大部分关于MBA毕业生的累计薪酬统计数据都缺乏说服力。管理专业研究生入学考试委员会(Graduate Management Admission Council)报告称,2010年毕业生的平均起薪为78,820美元,其中42%获得了平均15,000美元的签约奖金;但PayScale的研究却发现,2010年MBA毕业生的平均起薪(包括奖金)为61,000美元。PayScale的数据涉及所有拥有MBA学位的人,统计的范围更广,但是,统计对象不仅仅局限于精英毕业生。

    李表示:“有一点非常清楚,如果随便找一所学校攻读MBA,并不能保证毕业后一定能拿到六位数的高薪。如果选择排名前20的商学院,则很有机会获得高薪职位,但如果选择的学校在20名以外,情况就会大有不同了。”

    此外,顶尖商学院也会提供更准确、更全面的薪酬与就业报告统计数据,这使情况变得更加复杂。因为其他学校通常不会重视按照行业或工作年限细分薪酬数据。如何才能穿过就业数据的重重迷雾,找准属于自己的方向?查看一下统计样本数量,参考班级中已经就业的毕业生比例,以及他们的工作类型。不论是有意就读MBA还是其他专业学校,学生们都应该做好功课,否则,等到欠下一堆债务就悔之晚矣了。

    翻译:刘进龙/乔树静

    The CSC also has to contend with the hurdle of how the data itself is collected. According to the standards, the information must come from a "reliable source," but the criteria for what constitutes a reliable source are loose. It can be a parent, employer or "your personal knowledge" -- leaving room for interpretation, or error.

    "I'm not going to tell you every school's employment report is perfect because they're probably not," Wilbur says. But as far as reporting in and open and comparable manner across schools, she says, "We're so much further along than almost any other type of professional degree program."

    Aspiring MBAs: What to keep in mind

    In most cases, dirty accounting will not skew a B-school's employment picture dramatically. Prospective students should instead be wary of other things, says Al Lee of PayScale, an employment data research firm. Students should look out for what he calls the "happy graduate bias," where unemployed graduates are less likely to report their status than their salaried former classmates.

    Would-be MBAs should also note that salary statistics are based on students with jobs -- and a high average salary may not mean that graduates' salaries were higher, but that low-paying jobs were drying up, keeping them from pulling down the average. For example, Lee says, official reports of the overall average salary for college graduates actually went up during the recession because only exceptional students got hired, even though the total number of students with jobs took a dramatic dip.

    B-school hopefuls should also look out for the types of people included in the data. Some MBA grads may have high-paying jobs that they're going back to. Others may have years of work experience. The cautious buyer will look at the salary in his industry of choice, independent industry salary data, and -- if the school reports it -- the starting pay based on a person's years of work experience.

    Most aggregate salary data for MBA graduates is anything but conclusive. While the Graduate Management Admission Council reports that the median starting salary for 2010 grads was $78,820 -- with 42% receiving a median $15,000 signing bonus, PayScale research indicates that the average 2010 starting MBA salary was $61,000 including bonuses. The PayScale data, which screened for anyone who identified as having an MBA, is drawn from a larger and more inclusive, but probably less elite pool of grads.

    "One thing that's absolutely clear is that if you just go to a random MBA program it is not a guaranteed route to a six-figure salary after you finish," Lee says. "The top 20 programs, there's a decent chance that could happen, but once you get out of the top 20, that's just not the case."

    Compounding the problem, top programs also tend to offer better and more thorough salary and career reporting statistics. Other schools will often neglect to break down salary data by industry or years of experience. So what to do to hack through the jungle of career stats? Check the sample size, look at the percentage of the class with jobs, and look at what jobs they're getting. Prospective students should do this before singing up for any professional program, and – most important – before taking on debt to pay for it.

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