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Author Topic: The Default Major: Skating Through B-School
philnotfil
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Education as business. Here is what the future of higher education looks like.

nytimes.com

quote:
PAUL M. MASON does not give his business students the same exams he gave 10 or 15 years ago. “Not many of them would pass,” he says.

Dr. Mason, who teaches economics at the University of North Florida, believes his students are just as intelligent as they’ve always been. But many of them don’t read their textbooks, or do much of anything else that their parents would have called studying. “We used to complain that K-12 schools didn’t hold students to high standards,” he says with a sigh. “And here we are doing the same thing ourselves.”

quote:
Business majors spend less time preparing for class than do students in any other broad field, according to the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement: nearly half of seniors majoring in business say they spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying outside class. In their new book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college on a national test of writing and reasoning skills. And when business students take the GMAT, the entry examination for M.B.A. programs, they score lower than students in every other major.
quote:
Scholars in the field point to three sources of trouble. First, as long ago as 1959, a Ford Foundation report warned that too many undergraduate business students chose their majors “by default.” Business programs also attract more than their share of students who approach college in purely instrumental terms, as a plausible path to a job, not out of curiosity about, say, Ronald Coase’s theory of the firm.

“Business education has come to be defined in the minds of students as a place for developing elite social networks and getting access to corporate recruiters,” says Rakesh Khurana, a professor at Harvard Business School who is a prominent critic of the field. It’s an attitude that Dr. Khurana first saw in M.B.A. programs but has migrated, he says, to the undergraduate level.

Second, in management and marketing, no strong consensus has emerged about what students ought to learn or how they ought to learn it. And finally, with large student-faculty ratios and no lab equipment, business has historically been cheaper to operate than most departments. Cynics say many colleges are content.

“At the big public universities, the administrations need us to be credible, but I’m not sure that they need us to be very good,” says J. David Hunger, a scholar-in-residence in the management program at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, in Collegeville, Minn. “They need us to be cash cows.”

Doesn't this apply to pretty much everything outside of the hard sciences? (and even to some of the hard sciences)
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TomDavidson
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The MBA in particular has been a joke for nearly fifty years.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Doesn't this apply to pretty much everything outside of the hard sciences? (and even to some of the hard sciences)
Pretty much.

I'm embarrassed to say how many hours I studied per week in law school. And in undergraduate (BA History / English) I didn't study at all on a regular basis.

I honestly think that most of the programs today don't really push students very much at all. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have gone to school in a time when completing a post-seocndary degree really was a meaningful accomplishment.

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yossarian22c
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If you really want to know go get a Ph.D. in engineering, a hard science or math.
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Chael
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I don't know about you guys, but I wasn't in the sciences and I worked my butt off. [Wink]
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KidTokyo
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I'm in my third year of law school (as an evening student) and I have to work my arse of just to keep from getting creamed. No room for slack. I haven't had a real weekend (save for holidays) since 2008.
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OpsanusTau
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We make jokes amongst ourselves about the "PhD slackers". The dual doctorate students tend to agree - the part where they're working on the PhD in the biomedical sciences is the part where they aren't doing so much work.

It's hard to judge; and it's not as though I discount the hours, nay years, of sitting around thinking about knotty problems that people do in their research degrees.

But I do know that my own professional degree takes the same amount of time that it did thirty years ago, but contains substantially more material.
C'est la vie. I'm a lucky person; I like what I do.

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ken_in_sc
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I promise you that business majors are not weaker than education majors. I have been both. Business was harder and more work. BTW, almost no one except business majors take the GMAT. It stands for Graduate Management Admissions Test. It stands to reason that some who take it are going to score lower than others.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
BTW, almost no one except business majors take the GMAT.
*blink* Why do you think this? Last I heard, slightly fewer than half of all MBAs were business majors.

[ April 16, 2011, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
The MBA in particular has been a joke for nearly fifty years.

I have an undergrad in engineering and an MBA. I can assure you that neither one of them was a joke. I attended classes 12 hours a week for two full years and met with my study group for untold hours through nights and weekends. Thousands of pages of case studies, internet research, and loads of quantitative analysis in statistics and algebraic formulas.

In other news, MBA candidates do indeed come from other disciplines - especially engineering.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I can assure you that neither one of them was a joke.
If you chose to take your MBA seriously, good for you.
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KidTokyo
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Isn't the opening post quoting an article about students majoring in business as undergraduates?

Why should that necessarily mean that getting an MBA is a "joke"?

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TomDavidson
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The article notes obliquely that the MBA has long been a joke, but it's only recently that this appears to have trickled down to business undergrads.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
Education as business. Here is what the future of higher education looks like.

Education as business did not create this, education as indoctrination program created this.
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TomDavidson
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I dunno, G2. I suspect that most of the people who're majoring in business are doing so because the invisible hand of the market suggests it's financially sensible for them to do so.
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KidTokyo
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The NYT article seems to confine its criticism to schools outside of the "top 50," the same tale it tells about law schools.

In other words, exactly the kind of stories that NYT readers like to have a good wank over.

That doesn't mean it isn't true, of course.

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KidTokyo
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Isn't this just a matter of education doing what used to be done informally -- i.e., teaching on the job? Harder to be apathetic at a new job.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I dunno, G2. I suspect that most of the people who're majoring in business are doing so because the invisible hand of the market suggests it's financially sensible for them to do so.

Certainly there is some of that but I was specifically referring to sections like:
quote:
“We used to complain that K-12 schools didn’t hold students to high standards,” he says with a sigh. “And here we are doing the same thing ourselves.”
Dr. Mason is talking about the massive slip in education through the high school level is now requiring them to dumb down their curriculum as well. It's not "education as business" that is driving this dumbing down, it's the refocusing of education into indoctrination.
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I dunno, G2. I suspect that most of the people who're majoring in business are doing so because the invisible hand of the market suggests it's financially sensible for them to do so.

Certainly there is some of that but I was specifically referring to sections like:
quote:
“We used to complain that K-12 schools didn’t hold students to high standards,” he says with a sigh. “And here we are doing the same thing ourselves.”
Dr. Mason is talking about the massive slip in education through the high school level is now requiring them to dumb down their curriculum as well. It's not "education as business" that is driving this dumbing down, it's the refocusing of education into indoctrination.

I disagree. If it was about indoctrination they wouldn't complain about having to dumb down the curriculum, they would be happily doing it. If it was about education, rather than making money, they wouldn't be dumbing down the curriculum, and would fail a ton more students. Colleges that fail a third of their students, don't get more students. More students is how colleges make more money. It is possible that the colleges really are happy about dumbing down the curriculum, but having heard drunken administrators rail against this very thing, and against the system that requires them to make money rather than actually educate, I'm guessing that isn't the case. (or they are really good actors)
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cherrypoptart
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They have the same thing happening in India, and not just for business majors.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703515504576142092863219826.html

Muddying the picture is that on the surface, India appears to have met the demand for more educated workers with a quantum leap in graduates. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group.

But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group.

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