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Author Topic: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?  (Read 950 times)

SleepyGuyYawn

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Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« on: March 14, 2005, 11:55:47 AM »
For a long time I've wondered about the salary stats listed by law schools, especially in US News.  And I have to ask where they come up with such numbers.  I mean, occasionally I think they're correct.  But a few examples of curious entries:

1.  Pittsburgh's 75th Percentile being $140,000.  Does this seem just a little odd to folks?  I suppose they might include bonuses -- but then why wouldn't other schools consider bonuses.  Or I suppose that a segment of the law school could have gone into, say, investment banking... But this just seems too odd.

2.  Miami's rate of grads who reported salary information: 33%
I don't know what to make of this.

3.  The fact that Seattle lists different employment stats on their website (worse employment stats) than on US News.

4.  Iowa's grads are listed as making only $57,500 as a median starting salary in the private sector.  I mean... is it just that Iowa is more honest, or do the grads actually make such a low amount?

You get the point.  What I wonder is what rules US News has for reporting salary information.  And what is the impact of a low reporting rate -- does that mean, necessarily, that the sample is less than random? 

I'd love to hear any opinions on any of the above.  Thanks!

desmo

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2005, 12:04:47 PM »
I believe the schools base their info on what the respondants give them so if everyone includes bonuses, then this is what they use.  Often, the school follows up with a survey either phone or postcard - if people don't respond you get skewed data.  Say the alumni office is poor and can't track people done (I know it's rare, but possible) so response % may be low.  I've spent many hours researching salaries during job changes and it all depends on who they survey.  As far as Iowa, how many stay local and how many move?  If a lot of grads stay local I can see $60K in Iowa City - more for those who go to Cedar Rapids or points beyond.

In the end I don't think you can base too much on starting salaries.  Sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time to get the big bucks.

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2005, 12:22:03 PM »
In the end I don't think you can base too much on starting salaries.

That's frustrating as I'm more than worried about being able to pay off the large amount of debt I'll be in...

Balve

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2005, 02:09:12 PM »
You'll obviously have a higher salary in cities where the cost of living is ridiculous. Santa Clara's starting salary is $125,000 or something, which is on par with the T14. To live in the Bay Area, $125,000 doesn't go great lengths in terms of buying a house.

Troy McClure

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2005, 02:21:22 PM »
You get the point.  What I wonder is what rules US News has for reporting salary information.  And what is the impact of a low reporting rate -- does that mean, necessarily, that the sample is less than random?

You are approaching this the right way.  Don't look at the numbers blindly.  You have to go school by school and see what they mean if anything. 

There is real value to all this info available.  We didn't have this much to help make our decision when choosing our undergrad schools.

desmo

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2005, 02:35:07 PM »
You get the point.  What I wonder is what rules US News has for reporting salary information.  And what is the impact of a low reporting rate -- does that mean, necessarily, that the sample is less than random?

You are approaching this the right way.  Don't look at the numbers blindly.  You have to go school by school and see what they mean if anything. 

There is real value to all this info available.  We didn't have this much to help make our decision when choosing our undergrad schools.

I disagree, I think there's a tremendous amount of info regarding  undergrad schools, placement rates, rankings, salaries by area and major, etc.
My roommate choose Pharmacy as a major based on the girl to guy ratio whereas us engineers leaned towards starting salaries (DOH!!!!)

BoscoBreaux

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2005, 04:23:27 PM »
For a long time I've wondered about the salary stats listed by law schools, especially in US News.  And I have to ask where they come up with such numbers.  I mean, occasionally I think they're correct.  But a few examples of curious entries:

1.  Pittsburgh's 75th Percentile being $140,000.  Does this seem just a little odd to folks?  I suppose they might include bonuses -- but then why wouldn't other schools consider bonuses.  Or I suppose that a segment of the law school could have gone into, say, investment banking... But this just seems too odd.

2.  Miami's rate of grads who reported salary information: 33%
I don't know what to make of this.

3.  The fact that Seattle lists different employment stats on their website (worse employment stats) than on US News.

4.  Iowa's grads are listed as making only $57,500 as a median starting salary in the private sector.  I mean... is it just that Iowa is more honest, or do the grads actually make such a low amount?

You get the point.  What I wonder is what rules US News has for reporting salary information.  And what is the impact of a low reporting rate -- does that mean, necessarily, that the sample is less than random? 

I'd love to hear any opinions on any of the above.  Thanks!
You have touched upon why relying on salary figures is silly. Starting salaries reflect more where people DECIDE to work more than where they CAN work. So, a school like Iowa will always have a lower starting salary than a school which is considered much less prestigeous, but whose graduates tend to work in big cities, like New York Law School. Schools like Miami, whose graduates often do leave Florida for employment, may be harder to track down than a more local school, thus skewing the numbers. There are so many variables--some persons may even lie about their salaries so that they don't seem like they are a disappointment to the school. Who knows.

Babalaco

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2005, 05:03:17 PM »
For a long time I've wondered about the salary stats listed by law schools, especially in US News.  And I have to ask where they come up with such numbers.  I mean, occasionally I think they're correct.  But a few examples of curious entries:

1.  Pittsburgh's 75th Percentile being $140,000.  Does this seem just a little odd to folks?  I suppose they might include bonuses -- but then why wouldn't other schools consider bonuses.  Or I suppose that a segment of the law school could have gone into, say, investment banking... But this just seems too odd.

Why is this odd? There are several firms where first year associates start at 140K (without bonus), Skadden is the main one that comes to mind, but there are others. This number seems perfectly legit

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: Starting Salaries -- Where do they Come up with This?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2005, 05:47:00 PM »
Several, meaning only a few.  And it's odd because I doubt that 25% of those at Pitt going into the private sector (who reported salary info -- which is about 2/3) are working for those few firms that pay $140k.  I mean, God knows I like Pitt (I'm planning on going there), but I don't think they send what would amount to 25-30 grads to the few firms in NYC that pay that much.