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January 11, 2012 6:09 PM The Problem with Business Education Might be its Existence

By Daniel Luzer

There’s something seriously wrong with business education, writes Jason Fertig of the Pope Center on Higher Education Policy. According to his piece:

Present practice is to provide and promote…preparation for almost any job while offering specialized classes with [specialized education in a chosen function of business (such as accounting or finance)] in mind, and from that to erroneously assume that… giving a broad introduction to business—has been performed. This results in colleges doing a poor job of both job preparation and holistic business education. If colleges would just focus on a broad education, the other two goals would take care of themselves.

Current business school classes don’t have much to do with contemporary businesses. Furthermore, students who study business don’t actually learn much.

Fertig recommends more general courses. He explains that,

Business schools have shiny new buildings but otherwise they are fundamentally the same. In fact, given the influx of underprepared students, the dumbing down of coursework, and the exponentially bloated tuition prices, business schools may actually be worse than in the 1950s.
[Current business school curricula are] not a recipe for long-term success. The higher education bubble cannot continue to inflate. It is only a matter of time before better, cheaper educational alternatives become mainstream; this will leave colleges with a figurative warehouse full of mainframe computers to sell to customers who are seeking iPads.

He’s surely right that something here isn’t working, but his conclusion seems puzzling.

If it seems that no one learns much in business programs, and people in business programs would be better off taking more classes that are not about business, that brings up a more fundamental question: why study business in college at all?

Maybe everyone would be better off with just a normal undergraduate major and an internship.

Certainly studying business doesn’t seem to be either a necessary or sufficinet condition for success in a real business.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer