Studying business administration often looks like a pretty good idea for an undergraduate. It’s practical and looks pretty closely connected to relatively lucrative employment. Suits and secretaries and high salaries and generous benefits! Such a safe bet, right?
The fact that an undergraduate business major is neither necessary nor sufficient for securing a good corporate job is easy to overlook. If you’re undecided, why not go for business?
That’s not a good idea, says one professor who, oddly enough, teaches college-level business courses. According to an article by Inbal Orpaz in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
The Tel Aviv University business school on Monday told its undergraduate students to get their degrees in other academic disciplines rather than business.
The message, delivered in an email to undergraduate business students by professor Shmuel Ellis, the chairperson of the undergraduate Department of Management, said… 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.
Ellis doesn’t, of course, believe that the academic study of business is itself unimportant, he just doesn’t think it’s a good idea for undergraduates. Business “needs to be studied at the appropriate time.”
By appropriate time he means at the graduate level, after gaining real experience in the workplace. As he explained, “the MBA was first founded to train graduates of disciplines who already had practical work experience in their professional or scientific fields for administrative positions.” But pressure to serve as institutions for jobs training has lead many universities to create undergraduate business programs.
This is a bad idea. Just because it sounds practical doesn’t mean it really works. The reason to attend a university, after all, is to develop that scientific thinking and a “foundation for advanced studies.”