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Have MBA Schools become debtors' prisons?
Fortune ^ | 08/19/2011 | Mica Bevington

Posted on 08/19/2011 6:39:48 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

MBA grads are shouldering record levels of debt as tuition rates head skyward, making the degree a risky investment that's not often approached with caution or restraint.

In 2008, Brian Jenkins moved to Malibu, Calif., to start his MBA at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management. He had big ambitions for B-school, expecting the degree to help him land a six-figure-salary job in human resources at a top company.

Pepperdine seemed poised to deliver. When he was a mere applicant, the admissions director gave him a personal tour of the business school, which commands a stunning perch overlooking the Pacific. His student experience was "amazing," he says, handing top marks to his professors and classmates. The weather – "perfect every day" – was an added perk.

To pay for it all, Jenkins took out $120,000 in loans. But his six-figure-salary job never materialized. "The career services staff basically said, 'We'll help you edit your resume, good luck out there,'" he recalls. "A lot of [my classmates] found jobs paying $55,000 to $65,000 per year, and they were very excited that they had a job."

In fact, Jenkins' class earned a mean base salary of $69,167, according to Pepperdine's official stats. They also owed an average $66,242. When the economy was doing well, and there was upward mobility, MBAs made sense, Jenkins says. "People were able to manage their debt load."

(Excerpt) Read more at management.fortune.cnn.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: college; debt; mba

1 posted on 08/19/2011 6:39:49 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Why stop at B schools? All universities, these days, are debtor’s prisons, and the PhDs are the tapeworms.


2 posted on 08/19/2011 6:44:17 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: SeekAndFind

MBAs have been an extended version of the boom in engineering schools in the mid to late 70s; it results in a glut of MBAs. The down side of the problem, at least most engineering graduates had some useful knowledge and skills. MBAs, not so much when you look at their track records in handling most large businesses, banks and the economy. American business needs to get back to more of the hardworking, practical individuals who know how to get their hands dirty, how the operation works and how to lead rather than manage people. Managers manage things, leaders lead people; there is a big difference.


3 posted on 08/19/2011 6:47:53 AM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: SeekAndFind

Sounds like he expected the school to get him a $100k+ job.

Unfortunately, I don’t think his expectation is unusual these days.

Kids are pretty naieve.


4 posted on 08/19/2011 6:51:48 AM PDT by Pessimist
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To: Mamzelle
All universities, these days, are debtor’s prisons, and the PhDs are the tapeworms

You are right. Many advanced degrees are simply cash cows for universities. Even worse, many undergrad degrees are simply cash cows. You come out of an undergrad education or with a graduate degree with a mountain of debt and no job. And you realize how much better undergrad and grad programs could be if they focused more on what business want and need.

There really does need to be a Congressional investigation of college collusion on pricing and admissions. And the incentives for price inflation need to be taken away. The whole university system is a racket.

5 posted on 08/19/2011 6:54:28 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: Pessimist

Call it “Education Inflation”. Today an undergraduate degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma 30 years ago, and a Masters degree is the equivalent of a undergraduate degree 30 years ago.


6 posted on 08/19/2011 6:55:06 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: SeekAndFind

In terms of degree value, I think MBA’s are the new lawyers—Can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one.

The problem with most MBA’s, in my experience, is that they’ve never held a real job or worked for any appreciable time in the real world—They’re long on theory and platitudes and short on practical experience.


7 posted on 08/19/2011 6:55:24 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (I'll have what the gentleman on the floor is drinking.)
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To: SeekAndFind
I received an MBA back in the mid 1990’s. At that time, an MBA was sort of the ultimate degree for easy employment, because there were so many fields that accepted the MBA. Along with management and supervision, you could find work in budgeting, finance, auditing, accounting, human resources, and just about anything else remotely business related. Nowadays it's different, employers seem to view an MBA as not focused enough. If they are looking for somebody to work in accounting, they are looking for a degree in Accounting. If they are looking for a Human Resources Manager, they want someone with a degree in human resources.
8 posted on 08/19/2011 6:56:17 AM PDT by apillar
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To: SeekAndFind

Student loans at their most basic is simply a wealth redistribution scheme from the middle class to the elite.

When you have third party paying there is no incentive to keep cost under control.

I personally would forbid student loans. If that is not possible I have it so the college themselves must provide the loan and that these loans could be discharged under normal bankruptcy laws.

If the schools were the ones that would lose out if the graduate could not repay the loan they would show a lot more care in who gets a loan.


9 posted on 08/19/2011 6:57:08 AM PDT by CIB-173RDABN (California does not have a money problem, it has a spending problem.)
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To: SeekAndFind

MBA Grads? What about BA and BS grads? None of them can get a job! If they do it’s for minimum wage!

My girlfriends son graduated in May with a BA, moved to Rhode Island and delivering pizza’s. The irony of it all, is that he’s a big lib and Obummer supporter. Hehehe...


10 posted on 08/19/2011 6:57:56 AM PDT by alice_in_bubbaland (DeMint /Palin, DeMint/Bachmann, DeMint/Cain, DeMint/Ryan 2012!!!!!!!)
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To: SeekAndFind
...expecting the degree to help him land a six-figure-salary job in
human resources

I sense the problem right there.

From my experience, other than the VP of HR, people making that
kind of money were either mobbed up sleazes, or working
headhunter scams to cheat the company.

And from my part time b-school experience, I can only a recall one
person claiming to work in HR, and the reason was that she
was a minority expecting affirmative action to be an important
part of her corporation.

(That company is now a shell of its former self, mostly due to the
failure to keep up with new products introductions and
technologies that were obsoleting their core businesses.)

11 posted on 08/19/2011 6:58:40 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: SeekAndFind
In 2008, Brian Jenkins moved to Malibu, Calif., to start his MBA at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management.

They picked Pepperdine as an example? I understand the article but this reporter is citing one of the most expensive universities I know of as his first example. On top of that, the housing costs in Malibu will eat you alive before you even get to the campus.

12 posted on 08/19/2011 6:59:49 AM PDT by ElkGroveDan (My tagline is in the shop.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The MBA program always has been rich on jargon and short on substance. It always has been overrated.


13 posted on 08/19/2011 7:00:10 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: SeekAndFind

The MBA program always has been rich on jargon and short on substance. It always has been overrated.


14 posted on 08/19/2011 7:00:34 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: SeekAndFind
After 5 years as an electrical engineer, I went back and earned an MBA in the late 70s. Reason? To improve my oral and written communications and interpersonal relationship skills so that I could be a more effective engineer.

Most of my fellow students were liberal arts grads who needed marketable skills to find a job.

Looking back on it, it was an really good decision that has paid off handsomely in my engineering career.

Going to business school for a 6-figure salary is a fool's errand. Makes for a great movie, but reality bites!

15 posted on 08/19/2011 7:04:25 AM PDT by Redleg Duke ("Madison, Wisconsin is 30 square miles surrounded by reality.", L. S. Dryfus)
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To: The_Media_never_lie

The employment/salary picture is not in-line with the ROI for an MBA. It’s a complete waste of time and money for most people.


16 posted on 08/19/2011 7:04:42 AM PDT by The Bronze Titan
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To: RJS1950
When I was 18 and had just been accepted to Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, my father's insurance agent, who was also a family friend, joked: “So you're majoring in pre-business at Tech, eh?”

Apparently, most of the people who flunked/dropped out of Tech’s engineering program, including my father's insurance agent, switched to majoring in business. I suppose a fair number of them also went on to seek MBAs &mdash -- I never needed to find out for myself.

17 posted on 08/19/2011 7:09:14 AM PDT by WayneS (Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. -- James Madison)
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To: alice_in_bubbaland
My girlfriends son graduated in May with a BA, moved to Rhode Island and delivering pizza’s. The irony of it all, is that he’s a big lib and Obummer supporter. Hehehe...

Keep us updated, please. I'd be interested to see how he votes next year, after 15 months in the real world.

18 posted on 08/19/2011 7:12:18 AM PDT by Night Hides Not (My dream ticket for 2012 is John Galt & Dagny Taggart!)
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

Depends what field you go into. I have a young relative who is getting a PhD in biological research at a well-known university. Free tuition and a $25k plus stipend, which is essentially pay for work he does in the lab but it is in the field he is going into. So they are paying him to learn more about his field.

End result? Free PhD in a hot field. Value? Almost a quarter million bucks over five years. Obligation to the university? None. They just expect their grads will do great things, which maintains or improves the school’s academic reputation.

He applied to several other schools and all were offering him the same deal.


19 posted on 08/19/2011 7:12:48 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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To: SeekAndFind

There are few areas of study in which work experience is not preferred, PRIOR to pursing advanced degrees.

Get your undergrad, get a job, and then get the company to pay for the Masters.

There’s nothing more galling than having some MBA walk into a company, and start telling folks who’ve been there 20 years, what they’re doing wrong.

They have some sacred attraction to the bottom line at the expense of getting the job done, maintaining quality, and customer satisfaction.


20 posted on 08/19/2011 7:19:22 AM PDT by G Larry (I dream of a day when a man is judged by the content of his character)
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To: SeekAndFind
I'm sure private university like Pepperdine have great reputations, but perhaps Jenkins should have pursued his education at least at a private university in a lower cost of living location, like the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Even better might have been to look at a public university program, especially one with a concentration in the area he wanted to pursue (human resources), that would lower the tuition cost and likely lower the cost of living.

For example, UCLA, just down the road from Pepperdine, has a highly rated MBA program. A public university may have more options for assistantships and jobs, and being in a large metropolitan area may have more opportunities for jobs and internships while in school.

The last option, but perhaps the hardest, is to enter the workforce in your chosen field, and pursue and Executive MBA part-time.

A little research on Mr Jenkins reveals he is 26 years old, he went to Pepperdine immediately after completing his undergraduate degree at Cal State Fresno in 2008, and after Pepperdine immediately went to Cornell and got another Masters (I wonder how much he took out in loans for that degree). After all of that, he was hired into HP's Human Resources Management Associates Program last month, which should result in the type of position he was originally looking for.

To me, Jenkins sounds like a typical millennial, who believes he is owned a six figure job simply for completing a MBA degree at a private university, and who should not be held responsible for the risk and the loans he voluntarily undertook.

Maybe, just maybe, the current economic challenges will fundamentally change the millennials sense of entitlement and they will teach their kids you have to work for what you achieve in this world.

21 posted on 08/19/2011 7:22:00 AM PDT by magellan
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To: RJS1950

Managers manage things, leaders lead people; there is a big difference.

That says it all. The trick is to be able to spot the leaders and those willing to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
I’m retired now but I used a number of tests that worked well for me and my company over the years. There are all kinds of good tests out there, some of which can really illuminate the strenths and weaknesses of applicants.


22 posted on 08/19/2011 7:25:06 AM PDT by Joan Kerrey
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To: RJS1950

Managers manage things, leaders lead people; there is a big difference.

That says it all. The trick is to be able to spot the leaders and those willing to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
I’m retired now but I used a number of tests that worked well for me and my company over the years. There are all kinds of good tests out there, some of which can really illuminate the strenths and weaknesses of applicants.


23 posted on 08/19/2011 7:25:06 AM PDT by Joan Kerrey
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To: Redleg Duke
After 5 years as an electrical engineer, I went back and earned an MBA in the late 70s. Reason? To improve my oral and written communications and interpersonal relationship skills so that I could be a more effective engineer.

Most of my fellow students were liberal arts grads who needed marketable skills to find a job.

Looking back on it, it was an really good decision that has paid off handsomely in my engineering career.

Going to business school for a 6-figure salary is a fool's errand. Makes for a great movie, but reality bites!

Agree 100%. I was an engineering undergrad. I got my MBA immediately after my Bachelors. I think the breadth of education helped me in my military career and ultimately led me to the technology industry which has worked out very well for me.

The large number of engineering focused universities who have added MBAs has dramatically diluted the pool of MBA graduates, but the reality is most companies no longer offer management development programs, so if you want to pursue management, you have to get your management training outside the company.

24 posted on 08/19/2011 7:33:23 AM PDT by magellan
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To: alice_in_bubbaland
According to BLS http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm, unemployment among those with a "bachelor's degree and above" is 4.3% but it's 15.0% among HS dropouts. Living with mom and dad and delivering pizzas or serving cappuccinos may suck, but it's still a lot better than living in a cardboard box on the street or one of the Obamaville tent cities!

My kid just earned her MS but had her "dream job" 4 or 5 months before she received the degree. So like everything "it all depends".

I turned down an ivy school for my (much cheaper) State U MBA some 20 years ago. (I had a kid and a mortgage.) I'm still not sure it was the right decision. Was it worth it? Dunno -- but I had FUN! I still use some of the stuff I learned on occasion. I wouldn't recommend spending a ton of money on a second or third tier MBA degree.

25 posted on 08/19/2011 7:43:43 AM PDT by Sooth2222 ("Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of congress. But I repeat myself." M.Twain)
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To: The_Media_never_lie
I disagree.

There was a time where in some schools you had more of a tangible, mathematical approach when they taught economics, accounting, etc as part of the MBA program. Historically, the MBA is a mix of accounting, economics, law, marketing and other subjects. An MBA should understand systems analysis, basic organizational structures, project management etc...

Somewhere along the way this degree has been watered down in so far that they teach the “art” and neglect the “science.” They have added socio, economic, environmental and so called ethical ideas to the curriculum at the expense of learning the more substantive concepts. Some schools punch out MBAs without ever having even taught a single class in the PMBOK.

The MBA is simply like ***MOST*** other education in this nation where the business of education trys to water it down and sell it to as many as possible, on-line, and with contemporary trash science and socio-psycho babble added because some in education feel that makes it “relevant.” The students that come to these schools have changed too! Schools have some fowl and ignorant garbage coming to them that years back would not even have received a high school diploma. In 1961 when my father graduated high school there were no people that graduated with “basic algebra” that can hardly read and not write a single coherent sentence. Today a college spends the first two years teaching what someone should have learned in high school!

Even if you go into the ABET certified engineering programs or hard sciences you'll see a dumbing down and the incorporation of trendy/faddy pseudo scientific trash driven by socio economic theories (i.e. global warming)...

The MBA is no exception nowadays, you guys simply have latched onto that degree as your rallying point in this discussion. In reality this is a far larger macro level issue across our entire education system where various people talk about different manifestations of a problem caused by the moral decay of our society, the business of education and the dysfunction injected by politicians that come in to help after every perceived crisis.

26 posted on 08/19/2011 7:59:09 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Arm_Bears

That may be, but hitting lawyers with dead cats is a special kind of fun.


27 posted on 08/19/2011 8:00:28 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: blueunicorn6

I feel badly for the cats, though.


28 posted on 08/19/2011 8:08:36 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (I'll have what the gentleman on the floor is drinking.)
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To: Sooth2222

ANY job where you’re a productive member of society and not destroying others is respectable.

I don’t care if someone cleans tables and takes out the trash, they’re still doing something and I still have respect for that person in that regard.


29 posted on 08/19/2011 8:08:45 AM PDT by Red6
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To: SeekAndFind
MBA grads are shouldering record levels of debt as tuition rates head skyward

They are? My wife got her MBA; the school paid her to go there. In fact two schools (both quite respectable) were fighting over who would pay her more.

With 5 degrees between the two of us, we've learned that if you're paying list price (or, heck, anything at all) for a degree, you're doing it wrong.

The problem isn't the rates, it's that people sign up for massive loans without batting an eyelash - much less actually spend a few hours looking for alternative pricing.

30 posted on 08/19/2011 8:16:17 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Red6
As an engineer, I once had visions of getting my MBA. I took the first prereq course, and soon realized it was mainly a regurgitate the buzzwords type of course and was of no practical use in the electrical utility business I was employed in. I decided it was not for me, and just completed the course so I could get reimbursed.

Several in my company got their MBA and went on to lucrative positions in upper management. Many got their MBA, and it made no difference at all in their career progression. I can say it was not for me, I truly disliked replaying the buzzwords for the tests, all the while thinking there is not much here, except the b.s.

It didn't help that I had a boss with an MBA who enjoyed using the buzzwords, which were nothing more than b.s., and rubbing it in our faces that she had the MBA and we didn't. Bottom line: the buzzwords did not help improve the financial condition of our company at all.

I'll have to stick with my opinion that there are way too many MBAs, there is way too much b.s.in the MBA program and they are trying to make a degree program out of what should be common sense. The MBA program would just slow down a true business entrepreneur, and would not help at all.

If the recession/Obama depression somehow limits the numbber of MBAs, then every cloud has a silver lining.

31 posted on 08/19/2011 8:19:34 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: Arm_Bears
The problem with most MBA’s, in my experience, is that they’ve never held a real job or worked for any appreciable time in the real world—They’re long on theory and platitudes and short on practical experience. And here is the crux of the matter. I know a little bit of graduate education and with the exception of a science student who does advanced research as an undergrad, I would NEVER recommend someone go to graduate school with out some field/work experience, especially a professional degree. Until you are in the actual setting as a professional, you won't know whether or not you really like your job. After a year, preferably 2 or 3, you have a clearer focus as to where you want to go, and hopefully a mentor and benefits to support the education. This helps pick appropriate electives/tracks. Once in the classroom you have "real world examples" that can be used when evaluating the information given. A lot of people don't want to hear what I just stated, but graduate professional degrees should be a calculated move as part of a current career and not something to do in hopes of getting a better job.
32 posted on 08/19/2011 8:19:34 AM PDT by PrincessB (Drill Baby Drill.)
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To: Red6
As an engineer, I once had visions of getting my MBA. I took the first prereq course, and soon realized it was mainly a regurgitate the buzzwords type of course and was of no practical use in the electrical utility business I was employed in. I decided it was not for me, and just completed the course so I could get reimbursed.

Several in my company got their MBA and went on to lucrative positions in upper management. Many got their MBA, and it made no difference at all in their career progression. I can say it was not for me, I truly disliked replaying the buzzwords for the tests, all the while thinking there is not much here, except the b.s.

It didn't help that I had a boss with an MBA who enjoyed using the buzzwords, which were nothing more than b.s., and rubbing it in our faces that she had the MBA and we didn't. Bottom line: the buzzwords did not help improve the financial condition of our company at all.

I'll have to stick with my opinion that there are way too many MBAs, there is way too much b.s.in the MBA program and they are trying to make a degree program out of what should be common sense. The MBA program would just slow down a true business entrepreneur, and would not help at all.

If the recession/Obama depression somehow limits the numbber of MBAs, then every cloud has a silver lining.

33 posted on 08/19/2011 8:20:06 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: Joan Kerrey

The phrase is actually a paraphrase of a statement made by Grace Hopper, IT pioneer and co-developer of COBOL. It is one statement I have always believed in.


34 posted on 08/19/2011 8:48:36 AM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: Right Wing Assault

Been there, done that.
The path is rosy as long as Uncle Sam funds the NIH/NSF big time, in fields in which you can compete for extramural funding (hard to predict while you are training — long hours for short $$). Limited positions are available in the private sector for all the grads they churn out, and most are very competitive. And if you have the wrong skin color and genitalia (i.e., not a source of brownie points under EEOC criteria) the deck will very much stacked against you in academia or gov’t. Best advice—save your money once you complete the PhD program to retrain as a DDS or MD (on your savings), or figure out a way to become an entrepreneur and/or self employed. Can’t tell you how many friends and colleagues have been dead-ended after entering the NIH training grinder....


35 posted on 08/19/2011 9:14:10 AM PDT by Carborundum
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To: The_Media_never_lie
Do you want me to quote or find ignorant engineers that made stupid decisions or designed stuff that exploded, collapsed etc?

The point is that the MBA, historically was a degree that taught someone tangible things you could apply in business where you deal with contracts, hiring, firing (law), project management, understand the financial position of the firm (accounting), have a concept of marketing, human relations, business and product life cycles, etc... There are aspects in law, accounting, the process of the PMBOK, systems analysis etc that are not simply memorizing “buzzwords.”

Ideally: MBA = a little law (as it pertains to business) + accounting (enough to make sense of what is going on within business and not break accounting practices) + Systems analysis + organizational structures + project management + some feel good human soft science garbage. It should be the MBA that brings a semblance of process and empirical methods to decision making. Unfortunately, as everywhere else, this gets dumbed down and they add all sorts of relativistic meaningless fluff to the curricula (i.e. ethics, diversity etc) over time.

36 posted on 08/19/2011 9:47:50 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Opinionated Blowhard
There really does need to be a Congressional investigation of college collusion on pricing and admissions.

Congressional investigation?? They are the ones that are primarilty responsible for the skyrocketing costs of college and grad school. That would truly be a case of the fox guarding the henhouse.

Thomas Sowell has written on this many times.

37 posted on 08/19/2011 9:56:13 AM PDT by 17th Miss Regt
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To: The_Media_never_lie
Education is about making money, that equates to pumping as many through that you can. Higher education isn't about teaching, it's about making money.

In education we no longer keep out the fads and trendy garbage that dominates this pop culture we live in. In fact the modern curricula is “evolving” constantly to stay relevant, which really means they pick up on every socio economic trend and incorporate this into their curricula. Political pressures and pandering has only added to this as well.

The student body has devolved into a bunch of ignorant savages that can't think. That's what so called “higher education” has to work with in the first place. We don't teach formal logic and fallacies. What we call critical thinking is no more than attacking traditional values of country, family, Christianity, gender roles, capitalism. The arts don't teach culture and values (their purpose), and religion (morals) have been removed from education and public discourse.

What does it mean if someone has a high school degree today? Does it mean they can read and write or do enough math even to do the job of a carpenter (geometry)?

38 posted on 08/19/2011 10:04:43 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Pessimist

I really feel sorry for these young people who entered into such deep debt for degrees. They are so screwed...or their lenders are. Which means tax payers are ultimately screwed.


39 posted on 08/19/2011 12:02:24 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: Redleg Duke

My Mom got her MBA at Stanford and her classmate was Condi Rice. She did not “really” need to but she was old school, and it was something for her to do as an achievement..like it was part of a personal bucket list.

I already have plans to attend B school ALSO at Stanford but I am still on the fence about it.


40 posted on 08/19/2011 6:29:44 PM PDT by max americana (FUBO NATION 2012 FK BARAK)
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To: CIB-173RDABN
"If the schools were the ones that would lose out if the graduate could not repay the loan they would show a lot more care in who gets a loan."

And they would tailor the curriculum towards the needs of the market, rather than pushing the personal wet dreams of leftist PhDs who have never held a productive job...

41 posted on 08/19/2011 8:50:10 PM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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