The Boston Globe published an interview with the new president of Babson College recently, and he said something that fairly shocked me.
“I’ve argued regularly over time that the content component of a business school curriculum is irrelevant within a decade,” said Leonard Schlesinger. “Now, I’d say it’s irrelevant within five years.”
Schlesinger is no dope. He has taught at Harvard Business School and he was vice chair and COO of Limited Brands. But five years?
I may the least qualified person on earth to offer thoughts about this. I didn’t go to business school. My formal education ended with my bachelor’s degree in English. Everything I know about business has come on my own, and on the job.
But what does Schlesinger’s estimate say about the business school education? Harvard’s two-year MBA tuition is about $78,000. Sure, it’s Harvard. But is that truly a good investment, when everything is dead meat after five years?
Maybe you get a better job with that MBA. Maybe the connections you make will last forever. I’m not one to argue, either way. But if Schlesinger is right, those claims will be harder and harder to make.
As a parent with two daughters entering college in the next four to six years, this issue is rapidly becoming personal. But it’s a question for all of us.
Colleges and universities once could charge whatever they wanted. Parents navigate this black box of a system with grants, scholarships and loans. Medical students finish medical school with up to $200,000 in debt, discouraging many from choosing lower-paying specialties that they might otherwise love.
This can’t last forever. The cost revolution is hitting health care. It swamped the airlines 20 years ago. Education may be next. How will colleges and universities react?