A case of the business school blues

March 11, 2009

When I see articles and hear stories about the rising number of trade- and grad-school applicants (I even penned an earlier post about it myself), I admittedly don't take time to do the math. But how much money are people really sacrificing to attend these schools? Despite obvious benefits, an education is also a potentially hazardous trap of zero income, textbook costs, un-financed living expenses and student loans. So is it worth it? According to advice columnist Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times: No, it is not--at least not business school. I've heard several individuals remark that the MBA is rapidly becoming the new JD, with people assuming a business degree will separate them from the mass of their unqualified, unemployed peers. But Kellaway says that's not necessarily the case: "Many people leaving business school now are not only failing to change career, they are crawling back to their old jobs with their old employers." She is "suspicious" of the degree, wondering if that money is actually put to good use in the end. "I fancy that the new fashion in business is to rate common sense and experience more highly than Swot analysis," she writes, referencing a method for analyzing business ventures. I trust no one enters lightly into the experience (and expense) of graduate school, but for people who believe strongly in the values of higher education--well, it might be like moths drawn to a compelling but extremely expensive flame. I anxiously await stats tabulated at the end of the recession telling us how strong the grad school trend truly was, followed by the employment rate of those with newly minted degrees.