So, for 119 Harvard MBA students, the phone rings. "Buddy, you’re not going to be admitted to the MBA program because you decoded a poorly written website and found out your admissions status too soon." [This means, of course, that for the next two years, you don’t have to pay Harvard more than $150,000 in room and board and lost wages, and you can build your own business or join a non-profit or run for the Senate].
So what’s the bad news?
Plenty of handwringing about the ethics or lack thereof in this case (the media loves the turmoil) but I think a more interesting discussion is what a gift these 119 people got. An MBA has become a two-part time machine. First, the students are taught everything they need to know to manage a company from 1990, and second, they are taken out of the real world for two years while the rest of us race as fast as we possibly can.
I get away with this heresy since I, in fact, have my own fancy MBA from Stanford. The fact is, though, that unless you want to be a consultant or an i-banker (where a top MBA is nothing but a screen for admission) it’s hard for me to understand why this is a better use of time and money than actual experience combined with a dedicated reading of 30 or 40 books.
If this is an extension of a liberal arts education, with learning for learning’s sake, I’m all for it. If, on the other hand, it’s a cost-effective vocational program, I don’t get it.
Yes, I know what the Black Scholes equation is. No, I don’t understand it. And no, I don’t need it. Do you?