Friday, April 20, 2007

High-End Diploma Mills

So I'm about to embark on a journey through the world of post-graduate education. I'm getting ready to take my GMAT, and after that I'll be enrolling in an MBA program at a well-know university. My parents must be so proud...

Right.

I'm enrolling in an evening-and-weekend program for technology professionals; I'm guaranteed admission as long as I break 500 on the GMAT, get my application in on time, and am ready and able to fork over a significant fraction of $100k for the privilege. Have you seen what it takes to break 500 on the GMAT? You have to have a pulse, and not much else. But flash-forward 18 months after enrollment and I've got a diploma, and there's not even a little asterisk or anything that says I went to night school.

Really, this entire MBA thing is a scam. I've got to get myself stamped so I can get out of the trenches, but I seriously doubt that the MBA program itself is going to provide much in the way of useful training. And it looks like this sort of thing isn't limited to MBAs either. I had a chance to speak with a friend of mine who's getting her master's in library science and she says that she's basically seeing the same thing. She hates grad school, and doesn't necessarily think that she's learning anything particularly critical to her success, but recognizes that if she doesn't get the advanced degree she can't go on to do anything really interesting.

She says that she sees a lot of people in our position, all jumping through these advanced-degree hoops not because they think they'll learn something, but because they need to be able to put the degree on their resumè or else they'll be stuck doing scutwork for the rest of their lives.

In the case of the program I'm enrolling in I get the feeling that it must be a cash cow for the university. The program costs so much more per semester than an undergraduate degree, and takes up a lot less of the university's resources. When you really stop and look I'm basically buying their endorsement on my resume; its got nothing to do with my level of talent (or lack thereof). Right now I want to do data center operations and, frankly, I think I already have a pretty good idea about how to do it based on all the time I've spent actually working in data centers. What is the business school going to tell me that I don't already know? Accounting? Budgeting? Cash flow projections? Whatever... everyone just puts numbers into Excel. You say something like "time value of money" and their eyes just glaze over.

So anyway, the entire thing strikes me as a big boondoggle. Thoughts?

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