Sep 052002
Authors: Shandra Jordan

Life is worth what you put into it. That applies to school degrees, work or entertainment.

A Stanford study released this month claims that a master’s degree in business is overrated and quickly becoming worthless.

The study, by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Christina Fong, says that an MBA, except from the most elite institutions, teaches little useful information and had little impact on salaries. The study blames everything from a “mollycoddling teaching culture” to outdated professors and textbooks.

They do acknowledge that the networking there can be a valuable opportunity, but cite a report that says life at a business school is a two-year-long networking and bonding ritual revolving around alcohol.

Based on what I see everyday, I would categorize many people’s undergraduate experience as a four, five or even six year bonding experience revolving around alcohol. Emphasis on the alcohol.

But I also see people who are working hard everyday, doing things they enjoy and making the most out of whatever their classes have to offer them, regardless of whether or not they have outdated professors and textbooks. These people, no matter what degree they graduate with, will have achieved something worthwhile.

Likewise, the people who do nothing but wait for their school career to magically become useful without any work from them will not graduate with a worthwhile degree, no matter what they study.

“Where it doesn’t seem to be examined into is what MBA graduates have to say about the worth,” said Tom Ingram, the interim associate dean for academic and executive programs. ” I think they’d say they find it very worthwhile.”

An MBA, a law degree or a medical degree will only give you back what you put into it. If you go into life with an attitude that you will be learning something, surprisingly enough you will. If you don’t expect life to give you anything, chances are it won’t.

In an interview, Pfeffer said, “The question which I believe remains unanswered…is do you learn anything at business school?”

You can ask that about any education program. Did I learn anything today? Yes, but only because I went into today saying I wanted to learn something.

The study also notes that in a Fortune magazine article titled “Why CEOs Fail” 40 percent of those cited had MBAs. It also noted that many of the top successful CEOs do not have MBAs.

So an MBA does not ensure success, and the lack of one does not guarantee failure. That’s not a surprise if you consider the fact that these people were not shaped entirely by their degree.

Education is not a guarantee of success, it is simply a stepping stone which can aid you, if you put the effort in to allow it to.

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