Is Business School the Easy Route Through College?

Posted on by Jason Arango (jarango)
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A recent article from The New York Times titled The Default Major: Skating Through B-School has the audacity to propose that business school might not be all it's cracked up to be. The report asserts that not only do business school students study less than those in other majors, they show the least learning. And, to top it off, they're typically less prepared for the GMATs than students from any other major, scoring significantly lower than students with a Humanities, Social Science, Science, or Engineering background.

As a business major myself, the article instantly struck a nerve. How dare they attack my field of study? Who are they to call it a major for slackers and the unfocused masses? Why would anyone question the prestige of majoring in business? After all, most of us work for--or interact with--businesses on a daily basis, so obviously majoring in business is super important. However, once I was done being offended by the headline and first couple paragraphs, I decided it might make sense to read the rest of the article. And you know what? They're absolutely right. At most universities, a business major just might be the path of least resistance.

Management and marketing courses place so much emphasis on group projects, presentations, and even team papers that the least motivated students can easily coast by with passing grades. Even the most motivated can divide and conquer, sticking to whatever aspect of a project they're already relatively comfortable with. Although lazier students might be tested by a few of the courses in statistics, finance, and accounting, courses in marketing and management can verge on being ludicrously easy.

In one of my most ridiculous classes, a required course on organizational behavior, the professor insisted on facilitating a series of touchy-feely team building exercises to help us learn about different personality traits. In addition to putting stereotype note cards on our foreheads so we could see how people would treat us if we were a different race (yes, I know this was on The Office...and yes, we actually did this), we also spent an entire hour writing down traits about ourselves we liked and then having the teacher tell us to tear them up one by one. Apparently this was illustrative of how the corporate world, or a poor manager, would alienate the identity of the individual...or something.

Team building at its finest.

What I'm getting at is that these sorts of activities are almost impossible to fail. No engineering, humanities, or science major could possibly be behind the curve for not having been through this little exercise. And sure, all majors have a bit of fluff involved, but business school seems to be one of the worst offenders. The idea that working in a team should consistently trump your individual knowledge is a bit dangerous, but the fact that I've got a degree being exposed as potentially useless is considerably more depressing.

Is it smart to pursue a business major?

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