Business School? Study history instead
The notion that attending a business school to get ahead is idealism at best. You are probably better off simply studying human history instead.
A college degree is getting expensive, and understandably so. A college is very much a business, if at least to break even. It cannot survive as a continuously loss-making entity. And private colleges are obviously business entities, and profitability is important, as more and more colleges are coming to the surface to compete for the same markets and the same audiences. So I can empathize that college education costs are going up, and accelerating especially for for-profit private entities.
And if we decide to go a step further to attend business school to get a general MBA (masters of business administration), rather than a vertical masters degree, then the costs can be astronomical, depending on which college we settle our sights on. Some business schools can have costs that equate to several years of income for some people.
Attending a business school for the right reasons would be beneficial. For example, if you have not had business management experience, have good career tenure, desire to get a broad-based business education to understand how better to manage your team, and have additional funds set aside, then it is great to attend a business school. And if your role demands reaching out to an established professional and entrepreneurial fraternity and you can learn from the real-world experience of others, and you have good control of money and your time, then it is also great to attend a business school.
However, if you harbor the idea that by getting a personal loan to attend a business school and hope to recoup your investment, then you might be getting ahead of yourself. I have personally never thought that borrowing against mere projections is a wise idea, especially in today’s transient career and business environments.
Let us now take a step back and look at broad business management and leadership philosophy, which are key subjects in a business school program.
There are many Western authors who have come from scientific, academic, industrial and business backgrounds. There are authors who write about the business experiences of field entrepreneurs and experts, as observers. Many of these books and writings have their merits, and make up parts of the business school experience.
However, the reality is that human history is still the most insightful universe for anything related to management and leadership. Many of the contemporary works base their fundamentals on ancient human history, whether in the West, the Mid-East, and the East.
So, if management and leadership are our key interests, then perhaps it is simply more straightforward to revisit human history and ancient philosophy instead. After all, many of these historic works have no intellectual property barriers and are available to all who care to read and study them.
For example, the Confucian Analects make a great starting point for understanding how group dynamics and leadership can work in a civilized environment. The writings of Mencius also make great supplemental material to extend leadership and management to organizations large and small.
And if you are already tired of the Sun Tzu’s Art of War, especially since it has been written ad nauseam by Western and Eastern authors alike, then look at the history of the Three Kingdoms, Miyamoto Musashi’s Go Rin No Sho (Book of 5 Rings), and Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure (Hidden Leaves), for marketing and competitive tactics and strategies.
If you are looking at managing a non-profit or running a business on humane leadership, your materials are wide-ranging as well, ranging from the Buddhist Sutra of the Path of Ten Good Karmas, The Buddhist Book of Bodhisattva Precepts, The Christian Gospel of Christ, the Taoist Three Treasures, and so many others.
While we keep looking forward looking at new things, it is wise to also remember that all things old and historic have great value to us as leaders as well, and the library is so vast that it would take our entire lives to merely flip through a few pages of each of these great works. Perhaps it is time to revisit those, these treasures our early elders painstakingly labored to leave behind for us.