Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Juking the Stats

Juking the stats, a term frequently used on "The Wire", means that someone has fiddled with data in order to reach a more favorable conclusion - for instance, if I'm on a diet and am counting calories, I might not count liquid calories and still maintain that I had 1200 calories that day (of course, when you add 10 Malibu and Cokes your actual numbers are a little bit higher).

I think grad schools are often guilty of juking their stats on post-graduation employment, and if they aren't now, they will be after the class of '09 graduates.   After a cursory examination of the graduate business schools listed in Business Week and U.S. News & World Report, it seems that an average of 94% of MBA graduates were employed within 3 months of graduation.  To me, this number is suspicious.  

For one thing, based on my own anecdotal evidence, and based on conversations I have had with graduates from 6 different MBA programs (one of which is a top 3 school), NO ONE is able to get a job right now.  There are the odd exceptions here and there, but from what I can see and hear, 94% will be unattainable this year for the vast majority of B-schools.  

Secondly, as with all statistics, it is important to note what is not stated in the summary of the numbers.  94% represents the number of graduates employed, but there is no mention of where graduates are employed, what they are doing, or whether they are full-time or part-time.  So all those day-shift strippers holding Mizzou MBAs are still counted as employed even though they are not technically in the traditional career path of a Missouri alum (or are they...?). 

Finally, the 94% figure is based on employment 3 months after graduation.  If the median salary of MBA grads is something like $65,000, this would imply about a 6.5 month-long job search (according to the rule of thumb featured in "What Color Is Your Parachute?").  So if the spring '09 graduates have not yet started their job search and want to get placed within 3 months of graduation, they should be sweating.  

From my own experience, I am about to hit month 5 and have had no success whatsoever (who wouldn't want to hire a person with such a lovely f***ing vocabulary as me?!?).  Is it likely I am in that sad 6%?  I guess.  But I think it's more likely that that 6% will grow to about 10% or 15% for the classes of 2008 and 2009.       


  1. Having worked significantly in promoting the economic/employment advantages of the KU MBA program, and having worked closely with the folks who *receive grad/employment information from our lovely KU MBA program*, let me say:

    1) We're (KU) pretty psychotically honest about our grad employment rates. Mark Best helped KPMG with a recent audit of our numbers.

    2) KU MBAs lie extensively (almost everyone, FTW) about their salaries in their first post-MBA job.

    3) Enormous circumstantial evidence points to nearby (top 75) MBA programs, like Mizzou or Colorado or Iowa, exaggerate their employment more than KU (not everyone is audited), and lie about salaries at least as much as KU--and likely much more (e.g., University of Texas MBA salaries).

  2. Oops, major correction is needed:

    1) KU MBA program is psychotically honest about employment (and other data) for *incoming* students, not necessarily *outgoing* students.

    So really, there's probably self-reporting fabrications of all types. "Dude, yeah, I totally scored this $200K job in New York before I graduated, and like, all my roommates are strippers!" and other such bullshit gets reported to poor Ashley in the BCSC.