MBA News: Business Majors Do Not Measure Up

According to a recent article in the New York Times, students who pursue undergraduate business majors are comparatively disengaged, spending less time preparing for classes than students focused in other fields. Scholars cite three causes for this apathy: undergrads choosing their majors “by default”; a lack of consensus about what students should be learning in management and marketing; and the fact that business classes are cheaper to operate than courses in other departments (which leads to larger classes). Sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of the new book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, point to the high number of group assignments in business courses as the reason for this gap. Although group projects can be challenging, such projects allow some students to easily “skate through” by letting students either focus on just the aspects of group work at which each one excels or rely on one or two members of the group to complete the work for all. Some schools, such as Babson College and the University of Virginia, are aiming to provide a more well-rounded education to business students by integrating liberal arts and practical training. Some are looking to team teaching, while others are trying in-depth, all-encompassing business plan projects. What does this mean for the types of students applying to and being admitted into MBA programs? Could the value of liberal arts skills be on the rise? Remember, a few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal reported that MBA programs are growing dissatisfied with their students’ communication skills.

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