Making Business School Worth It

Skyscrapers stretching for the sun

I recently finished The Entrepreneurial Imperative by Carl Schramm, President of the Kauffman Foundation for entrepreneurship. In the book he spends a lot of time talking about the need for business schools to teach entrepreneurship and stay relevant in the business world, which is something I completely agree with.

The Problems

After almost two years of business classes, I can say firsthand that many of them are worthless. The three hours I spent each week in classes such as business ethics, “Organizational Behavior”, and business communication I consider some of the most wasted hours of my college career. Ethics and communication are important but could easily be worked into the curriculum of other business classes. As for Organizational Behavior (how organizations are organized and function), rarely have I taken a more worthless class. For one class, to demonstrate teamwork, we were sent into groups to build straw towers. Had I told myself this is what I would be doing in college, 18 year-old me may not have taken out those students loans.

Not only does the curriculum contain a great deal of fluff, but the entire structure of the major is completely corporation-focused. In marketing and finance and almost all career events the predominant thinking is that students will leave and get entry-level jobs wherever they can find them. The marketing curriculum is focused on selling known products to known markets by creating customer demographics, using the Four P’s, etc. For someone like me who wants to start my own company, I wish I had chosen differently with my major. I want a major that will challenge me and help me grow, not something that I feel is worthless.

My Solution

To combat this apathy I feel towards most of my business classes, I go out of my way to expose myself to new and interesting things. Last week, I attended Podcamp Pittsburgh and met several local entrepreneurs, as well as representatives from a local startup that I may intern with. I also try to meet with or call two successful entrepreneurs each week, either from the Pittsburgh or Philadelphia areas. Besides networking, I have always been actively teaching myself new things such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, and now Ruby on Rails. Learning Ruby, and messing around with Hack This Site, has taught me more than many of my actual college classes. College is one of the best opportunities to learn in my life, and I am trying to take full advantage of it.

The success of business schools cannot rely on individuals teaching themselves, for if that is the case they lose their value. Not only should entrepreneurship be an integral part of every curriculum, especially since it drives 50% of new job growth each year, but it should integrate students from across all disciplines. It is my firm opinion that both business students as well as engineers and computer science students all have a lot to learn from each other, and each group could benefit from exposure to entrepreneurial principles and teachings.