I came across this story in the New York Times the other day. Essentially, the main point of the article is that collegiate business programs have been dumbed down considerably over the last few decades, resulting in graduates who don’t really have a clue about business. Basically, business school is for slackers.
As someone who is majoring in business administration at a small private Midwestern college, I can say that, in my experience, this characterization of business students and business programs is absolutely true. I’ve never once studied or read any of my textbooks for a business or management class, unless I needed to do homework. I’ve never studied for a test in any business or management class either.
The reason I never put forth effort is a result of three factors. I take copious notes in class, I am very intelligent, and business and management classes are ridiculously easy. The lowest grade I ever received in a business or management class was a B, and the bulk of my grades in either type of class were A’s. Econ classes were the easiest. If the professor didn’t have an attendance requirement, I would have only showed up for class in order to turn in homework and to take tests.
Overall, my impression of business-core classes is that they are incredibly easy, even at the 400-level. Most classes consist of reading jargon-filled manuals that exist to explain the jargon used by the manual writers. There are a couple tests that closely resemble the vocab tests you take in second grade. There may also be a paper due at some point in the class, and the occasional pop quiz. Homework is very light.
It may surprise some, but I do not find these classes to be enjoyable at all. I normally enjoy reading about businesses, business leaders, economics, markets, and finance, but college classes somehow manage to suck all the fun and joy out of these things, as if being dull equates to be profound and challenging.
The only classes I found to be enjoyable were math classes and classes not related to my major. I especially enjoyed my English and literature classes. I even enjoyed my ethics class (which was my philosophy elective). Of course, I found my PoliSci class to be enjoyable as well, especially since the professor introduced me to Vox Day’s blog, which led me to discovering other blogs, and played an indirect role in my decision to blog.
I suspect the reason why business classes are so unenjoyable is because they are pointless. They are filled with incomprehensible jargon that, when explained, boil down to well-established principles of business: Serve the customer, obey the law, pay your taxes, train your employees well, pay them well, and cut costs wherever possible as long as doing so doesn’t lead to a decrease in quality. That’s three years’ worth of instruction right there.
Yes, day-to-day decisions are considerably more complicated than that, but they only way to learn how to handle the real world is to actually be a part of it, not observe it from afar long after the fact. I learned more about business when I worked fast food during high school than I did from going to college.
Want to learn about how a business works? Get a job. I’ve worked in fast food, in department stores, as a painter, as a roofer, in construction, in IT, and as a freelance writer. I’ve learned more from doing those things than I have from all the business and management classes I took in high school and college. Of course, I don’t know the jargon
used utilized by managers self-managed work teams, so I suppose that my practical experience is for naught.
At any rate, it’s very clear to me that business programs are nothing more than a bad joke. Unfortunately, the punchline is lots of debt and no usable skills.
Ha ha ha.