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商学院排名真的重要吗?

Glenn Hubbard 2015年05月27日

哥伦比亚商学院院长格兰•哈伯德认为,各种排行榜上排名前五或前十的商学院,教学质量差距并不大。但排名第一和排名第十,从市场的视角看来却是完全不一样的。商学院排行榜固然有一定的参考价值,但你的自身需求其实远比排名本身更重要。

    哥伦比亚商学院院长格兰•哈伯德。 

    作为一所商学院的校长,我经常会被问到和排名有关的问题。毕业生们想知道,他们的学位含金量是否会因为排名的高低而增值或缩水了,有意报考的学子也因为搞不清该相信哪家机构的排名而挠头。毕竟,现在林林总总的商学院数不胜数,每所商学院都有不同的课程,每份排行榜的顺序都不一样。学生们只好去咨询教育顾问。由于排名具有很大的主观性,很多教育界的领袖人物只好两手一摊,表示排名其实不重要。

    但这种说法并不正确。排名还是挺重要的,不过它的重要性与很多人料想的并不一样。

    一个基本的问题是:你怎样衡量一所商学院的质量?一所商学院获得过多少奖项,它的毕业生有多少人当上了CEO,未必能真实反映它的教学质量。(在最近纽约创业界人士云集的TechDay纽约峰会上,就连一个十几岁的孩子都自称是CEO。)另外,每一位商学院院长,包括我自己,都会告诉你,自家的学校是最棒的。因此我不得不说,你可以干脆忽略这些话。

    如果真要看的话,不妨看看学生。对于一所商学院来说,真正的衡量指标——投入和产出,只有在它的学生网络里才能看得到。(不好意思说出了经济学家的腔调,但我就是一个经济学家!)

    所谓的“投入”是指申请。一所商学院一年之内能收到多少入学申请,这个指标是很重要的。同时最好还要知道,在较长一段时期内,该校的申请数量是在上升还是下降。观察这项指标的理由是,有意报考商学院的学生总是会申请最好的学校,而最好的商学院反过来也会更注重择优录取。如果你研究一下申请数据(有些排名也会提供各校的申请数据作为参考),你就有了一把解开谜题的钥匙。

    所谓“产出”,是指我们要知道当学生从商学院毕业时发生了什么。如果就业市场认为这些学生获得了有价值的教育,他们就会获得很好的工作机会。这没有什么好奇怪的,雇主总是想方设法地招募最优秀的员工。如果一所商学院的毕业生达到、或几乎达到了充分就业,而且工作满意度普遍较高,我们就有理由相信,市场为他们点了赞。因此,那些提供了就业数据、薪资水平和其它“附加值”标准的排名,则是解开谜题的另一把关键的钥匙。

    把这些线索拼在一起,最后的结果可能会令有些人感到震惊。有一些商学院的确是当之无愧的顶级商学院,而且多年以来一直如此,并且有一些量化的指标可以把它们与其他商学院区分开。在今天的各大排名中靠前的少数几家商学院,其投入和产出数字无疑和我们预计的相差不远。正因为如此,他们也获得了正面的连带效应,如财务健康所带来的课程的适应能力,以及有能力打造并留住一支优秀的师资力量等等。

    所以,就市面上的各种商学院排名来说,如果他们考虑到了投入和产出值,那么他们至少在一定程度上反映了现实情况。应当承认,各种排行榜上排名前五或前十名的商学院的教学质量之间差距并不大。但对于一所商学院来说,排名第一和排名第十,从市场的视角看来却是完全不一样的。因此,每所商学院和每名学员都应该学会在喧嚣中捕捉关键信号,并做出相应的行动。

    也就是说,排名虽然具有一定的重要性,但如果你正在考虑申请商学院的话,最重要的是,这些排名对你来说是否重要。

    很多人之所以申请了某所商学院,是因为它排在了某份“最佳”排行榜的前列,就好比许多人购买获奖书籍、观看获奖电影一样,这是人的天性——我们都想要最好的。但如果你想从事某个特定的职业——比如当一个企业家或社会企业的负责人,或者你知道某个城市对你的就业非常重要,那么有些商学院比起其他院校的确会更加适合你。这时,你自身需要的重要性要超过任何排名机构给出的榜单。然后你能否按照商学院的课程完成自己的作业,能否做好职业管理,能否搞好校友人脉,并把自己“推销”给如今的商界领袖人物,就要看你的本事了。

    最后要说的是,找到顶级的商学院并非总是要靠猜测。可以用来判定最佳商学院的信息就在那里,如果你问本校长,那就是商学院排名的真谛。(财富中文网)

    本文作者Glenn Hubbard是哥伦比亚商学院的校长。此前他曾任小布什的经济顾问委员会主席。

    译者:朴成奎

    审校:任文科

    As a business school dean, I am frequently asked about rankings. Alumni wonder whether their degrees have lost—or gained—value because of rankings, and aspiring applicants fret about which rankings to trust. After all, there are many out there, each with a different formula, and each with a different school at the top. This puts prospective applicants in a position of consulting advisors who rarely agree. Given the element of subjectivity involved, it’s tempting to throw your hands in the air, as many academic leaders do, and conclude that rankings simply do not matter.

    But those people are wrong. Rankings do matter, though perhaps not in the way that many would expect.

    The basic question is this: how do you measure the quality of a business school? It isn’t necessarily in the number of prizes your faculty has won or how many of your alumni are CEOs. (Even a pre-teen can call himself a CEO, as I was reminded by the latest TechDay New York, which Columbia co-sponsored, bringing together the city’s startup community.) And every business school dean, myself included, will tell you that their school is the best, so as much as it pains me to say, you should probably look past the deans.

    Instead, look to the students. It’s in the student network that you will find the metrics that matter for assessing any business school: inputs and outputs. (Sorry for the econspeak, but I am an economist!)

    By inputs I mean applications. It’s valuable to know how many applications a given business school receives during a year. It’s also valuable to know whether the volume of applications is trending up or down over the long term. It stands to reason that the marketplace of prospective students will send the most applications to the best schools, which will, in turn, have more selective admission rates. If you study the data on applications—which some rankings provide as part of their research—you will have a key piece of the puzzle.

    It’s just as important, however, to know what happens to students when they leave school—the outputs. If the job market deems the students to have received a valuable education, they will receive good job offers. That should hardly come as a surprise—employers want the best employees they can get. Schools that routinely graduate classes at full or near-full employment, with good job satisfaction, have reason to believe they’re receiving a vote of confidence from the market. Rankings that provide data on job offers, salary levels, and other “value added” criteria are providing another critical piece of the puzzle.

    Put these pieces together, then, and the picture that emerges might be shocking to some. There are, in fact, top business schools—consistently so—and there is a quantitative way to differentiate them from the rest. The handful of business schools that dominate the upper tiers of today’s rankings no doubt see the input and output numbers you would expect. And because they do, they enjoy the cascading effects of being a top business school, like the programmatic adaptability that comes with financial health, and the ability to build or maintain an extraordinary faculty.

    So all rankings of business schools, at least in part, reflect an on-the-ground reality—if they are taking into consideration the inputs and outputs that are key data points. Admittedly, the aggregate difference between schools in the top five or 10 can be slight. However, being ranked #1 versus #10 can significantly impact the perspective of the marketplace. It’s up to each school and each prospective applicant to discern the signal from the noise and act accordingly.

    That means that, while rankings matter, if you are thinking about applying to business school, the question is whether the rankings matter for you.

    Plenty of people apply to a school because it has reached the summit of a “best-of” ranking, just as many people will see a movie or buy a book after it wins an award. That’s human nature. We want to experience the best. But if you are looking for a particular type of career—as an entrepreneur or a leader in social enterprise, for example—or you know that location will be important for your future job prospects, some schools will meet your needs better than others. In which case, your needs should trump the seal of approval of any publication. You owe it to yourself to do your homework on a school’s academic curriculum, career management efforts, alumni network, and ability to put you in front of leaders who are shaping business today.

    In the end, though, finding the top business school for you doesn’t have to be a guessing game. The information needed to identify the best schools is out there, and if you ask this dean, that’s the real business of business school rankings.

    Glenn Hubbard is Dean of Columbia Business School. Previously, he was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush.

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