On the value of majoring in business, from Professors Truth and Biafra

Take it from Shmuel Ellis—a business professor and administrator at Tel Aviv University (via Gawker):

Ellis said in his email that the business school recommends undecided undergraduate students choose disciplines like pure sciences, math, economics, psychology, computer science, history, literature, philosophy and architecture.

“Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs,” he said.

Lemme translate this biz-speak for all you non-biz majors out there: “Don’t major in business, major in a real field of study instead.” What is this guy, Sojourner Truth, Professor of Truth at Truth University? (Learn about who Sojourner Truth was, and what “truth” means, in real majors, like history or philosophy.)

This is the song that’s been running through my head ever since I saw this story:  “Terminal Preppie” by the Dead Kennedys.  This appears to be a 30-year old video of pretty poor quality–but I’m sure most of you out there probably already know the words & so can sing along:  “No I’m not here to learn!  I just want to get drunk!  And major in business. . . ”

7 thoughts on “On the value of majoring in business, from Professors Truth and Biafra

  1. “Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs” is accepted by a majority of academics. Ellis doesn’t discover anything new.

    It may even be an opening to a new way to organize our archaic universities.


  2. I don’t have much close experience with undergraduate professional/vocational education, except as an observer from the undervalued and overly-criticized groves of the humanities, but I sense that this is true generally. Kids major in journalism at public universities where the state authorities have been starving the institution, while other kids go to rich private unis and “major” in “writing for the Daily Eagle.” Some of the latter even optionally get interested in demanding majors as a kind of sidebar to long nights in the cubicle breaking stories that keep administrations on their toes. But whether or not they do the sidebar–beyond what it takes to stay eligible to “write for the D.E.”–guess who gets the byline or facetime in big media? Some of this is just the affirmation of class privilege, but choices do matter, and I’m not sure that it’s an advantage for undergraduates to major in nuts and bolts, rather than in questions and answers.

    I notice that law schools now, faced with the looming possibility of the kind of “seat management” issues that they have not had to face, are trying to figure ways to market their expertise to undergraduates who may have very different plans than taking depositions and writing briefs. This may actually be to the good in some ways, but I would shudder to see undergraduate versions of law departments spring up on campuses.


  3. And, law is considered a very ‘respectable’ u/grad degree for all sorts of careers- it’s very competitive to get into and seen as like other good humanities subjects, as showing certain types of reseach and critical thinking skills. Only a v. few u/grad lawyers ever take law any further, and in most countries, you need to take additional p/grad qualification/ vocational training to be allowed to practice.


  4. oh, I don’t doubt that it *could* be done right. I just doubt that it *would* be done right in the kind of “entrepreneurial” environment that holds sway in American educrat circles at this point in time.


  5. There are pre-law programs out there, but like business majors, people who are planning to go to law school are advised not to take them. It’s a better use of time to get an undergraduate degree in another field, particularly a science or engineering field if you plan on doing patent law.


  6. On my campus, many management majors double major, or do a minor/ almost major in a humanities field. So they satisfy worried parents, but then study something they love.


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