This is an interesting article that appeared in my email while I was picking up some food from Giancarlo’s. I found this really interesting and incredibly relatable. I thought that I would be at a disadvantage for having a degree in English, rather than business. Maybe this is not the case. This is not to say that Business majors/ Business school in general is completely worthless – I still feel like it would be very beneficial to take a formal marketing class or management class.
This article isn’t just about me, it is about the different educational backgrounds and experiences we all have here at The Advantage, and how it creates something effective, functional, and special.
Response by: Tony
Date: April 7, 2012
I had read this article the other day, I like that you found it pertinent to not only your education but to the Advantage experience as well.
The article, to my mind, however, falls well short of the mark. From my experience as a business operator who has interviewed well over ten thousand candidates – an undergraduate business degree is essentially worthless. I can frankly state that I have never hired a candidate with an undergraduate business degree in marketing or a hybrid degree in communication that has shown their substantial investment in time and money to be of any value to our organization [or their career]. That, of course, is not to say that they themselves did not prove to be exceedingly valuable.
When Butch was a freshman at Buff State working on his business degree, I advised him to quit and work full time at his career [in business]. I promised him that when his class graduated that he would not only know more about business, but that he would be earning more, have a better position, and a decidedly brighter future. Since then I have offered up the same advice a thousand times or more [actually, I throw it out there every chance I get].
I received my BS in Finance from Boston College in 1975, and it has proved to be of no practical value [although my time spent in Boston did help shape future]. Within months of graduating, I went back to Canisius College to work on my History and English degrees. After a brief stay in the confines of yet another intellectually dormant processing center, I said goodbye to educational institutions and became a vigorous autodidact*. I then eschewed Law School for the life of an active merchant. It is this life of a constant intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical challenge that has allowed me to work at being all that I had the potential to be. Although I recognize that I have fallen well short of fulfilling my potential – I am not done yet.
My final disenchantment with business schools in particular – and universities in general – came when I briefly taught in the MBA program at UB. It was more than disheartening, it was frightening. To think that these young men and women had nearly 6 years of higher education and they couldn’t even articulate a simple thought was comical. Their writing skills and complete lack of exposure to – or working knowledge of – the art of rhetoric was debilitating. I left after one semester convinced that college had morphed into a scam, relying solely on social status and networking to provide value.
The times are a changin’. College, as we know it, will be a thing of the past in one generation. The combination of a decided lack of return on investment, coupled with the ease of abundant accessibility online to the premier lecturers of our time will spell the death knell to the university money machine. They will have to redefine themselves for beneficial apprenticeship or perish as an anachronism. They will go the way of CD’s – Why pay for it when you can download it for free?
Of course, the social status establishments will persist in maintaining a social hierarchy that their constituents will always pay for. And, it goes without saying that for the well-heeled, it will always be one hell of a party. A Harvard grad will always be a Harvard man [even if they are now more likely to be a woman] regardless of the value of their ‘learning,’ and a fraternity/sorority drunk will always have their ‘wild’ college memories. Rock on.
*au·to·di·dact n. a self-taught person.