Education is utilized as a social elevator by communities all over the world and education has thus resulted in education creating attractive resumes than carving thinking minds. Every era has a flavor for social elevation. It was engineering 40 years back, moved to IT about a decade and a half ago and now it is the era of the grad school business degree. I am talking from a south asian/south east asian pragmatic perspective. Any degree not marketable to an employer is not worth time being ‘invested’. The present World Bank President’s father was a Korean Scientist who asked his son, what does he want to do and he said that he wishes to major in Political Science or Sociology in College and thus came the stark reply that he want his son not only to have the ability to think but also to do. This sentiment is shared by most parents across the developing world.
I started writing when I was a teenager in whichever small platforms i had access to, and wanted to major in history. The proposal was shot down in favor of a more ‘workable’ alternative. I majored in engineering and went on to be an environmental engineer, but have pursued grad school research in sociology and public policy as well. The World Bank President is a Medical Anthropologist with a PhD in Social Anthropology and and is a trained medical doctor. Pragmatism and Passion can go hand in hand.
The rush for grad school is insanity in India, everyone is an MBA degree aspirant or holder. I cannot meet a full techie anymore. IT is more knowledge based service economy oriented. All Engineers can be a beeline for Business School to get a pay hike. Some attend B School fresh out of undergrad. Many of whom i have spoken to, do not understand the fundamental nuances of business and simply wish to join the ‘bandwagon’ through group-think. A MBA degree is not a panacea, it is a platform for networking and connections as other other grad school option is. A MBA for the sake of a MBA is not smart.
Starting and Managing a non profit will teach one more business skills than an MBA. Most of the MBA text book knowledge can be learnt via business literature. I have not attended B School but have learnt my accounting and corporate finance on my own. Innovation is my pet research area. I dont need a MBA to run my job, i would probably require it more for connections to scale up than for its content. In an emerging growth story with ‘Breakout Nations’ as Ruchir Sharma conveys, we need more hard skills of an engineer, architect and operations guys than media planners and market researchers. We are not a service economy yet, the agri based sector is still our backbone. Real value still comes from Brick and Mortar industries. It is manufacturing which creates jobs and wealth, the service sector reduces net jobs.
In a recession the fluff economy guys are shown the pink slip first. Lets get our Educational priorities right. Do things that create value and make sense, and not to join the rat race.