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Business Majors…Again.

April 15, 2011

I’ve written/drawn about business school students before (BTW, that class, for financial statement analysis, got really painful for me really quickly), but seriously, I’m tired of the whaling on “business majors.”

Business Majors

Look. I understand that the “business major” is the last-ditch choice for a lot of students who don’t know what the hell they want to do with their lives, and don’t really want to work at whatever that is either. I understand that a lot of “business major” classes have exams that are as bad in format or as easy as non-honors high school exams. I understand (and cringe) that business schools often offload everything onto “working in teams” and “creating PowerPoint marketing plans” and “executive summaries” rather than comprehensive literary analysis.

But please, can we stop insulting my intelligence?

I guess…when I hear the word “business major,” I immediately become skeptical. About whom is the person talking? Is the person about to spew invective about “squishy” “business majors” like marketing and management? Are they trying to criticize the “soullessness” of accounting and finance majors? Rounding it out with the planned obsolescence of management information systems curricula? All of the above or none of the above? Undergraduate or graduate? And of graduate…what program? An MBA program? A bachelor/master program for the 150 hours required for a CPA?

And for what does the person criticize? Are “business majors” just dumb, just lazy, just unpassionate?

Or is the problem that we focus on a career? That we are not well-rounded, or that we aren’t good critical thinkers?

I don’t get it.

I can understand a lot of the criticisms across the board, and maybe I should just accept that I’m an inferior student…but I don’t want to do that. Maybe I should try to say, “I’m not the average business major” (as if I should be scrambling to get away from that average…should I accept it similarly as a compliment when people say, “You’re different from other black guys”?)

No sirree, I’m not the average business student. I’m the creative one who figures out how to get GE’s effective tax rate to a rate so low that people will actually care to scream about it.

I am a member of a group within my university that aims to select the “most innovative, curious, and motivated” (or maybe, “most interesting”) honor students from the campus…the group is somewhat related to recruiting for the honors department, somewhat related to applying for major competitive scholarships like Truman, Marshall, Rhodes, and the like, related to student research — especially undergraduate research.

There are plenty of engineers, scientists, and liberal arts students within this group. I’m one of a handful of business students. What is that supposed to say to me? That girl over there and that guy over here and I are all outliers who have surpassed our business handicap! I could probably apply to a couple of scholarships, but I always say, “Eh, don’t want to study in Britain…I’ve already accepted an offer to work.” (OK, maybe this is short-sighted and dumb.)

I participated in interviews to select the next class of this group (I believe only 2 “business majors” made it to the interview process). We talked about how interesting it must be for nuclear engineering majors to have to “defend” their major (literally — now everyone’s going to ask about Fukushima in addition to the standard talking points of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, etc.,) when other majors don’t have to.

And yet…when I say, “I’m an accounting major,” even if people don’t often ask out loud, I can hear the silent question: “So, why are you a part of this group?”

…I have often wondered why University Honors (with which this organization is affiliated) and Business Honors are so disparate. Is Engineering Honors disjointed from the University Honors so?

To be fair, I suppose I have also heard of something (loosely) within Business Honors that has been nicknamed the “A list” of students in the business school. Most on this list of top performing students are truly impressive — maybe as impressive as this upper echelon of “university honors” students to which I am a member — but the kinds of activities the one group does are tellingly different from the other. One seeks to do exotic undergraduate research. The other seeks to work for exotic management consulting firms or on Wall Street as investment bankers (*shudder*).

Hmm. Should I wonder if I’m not in the upper echelon “A List” of business school students here? Or should I be glad that I’ve salvaged my reputation as a student? Or should I lament that I’m not quite a star in either world — and it’s not like my school is the most prestigious in the world or anything, so it means I’m not even a big fish in a small pond?

I tell you what.

One of these days, I will snap. And then I will show everyone. Because between the argument that 1) business majors are academically bankrupt or 2) that all business majors do is profit off of the fruits of “real producers” (engineers and doctors, as it usually goes), I guess I’d rather be considered the dastardly scoundrel who wrecks the lives of millions through creative accounting and off-balance sheet financing.

And that’s what I’ll do.

At least being considered an evil genius would only call into question my ethics, and not my intelligence, ambition, or passion.

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