Since the founding of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania — Donald J. Trump’s alma mater — in 1881, millions of way too young and way too stupid people have been not only allowed, but encouraged to study “business.” What is business? Well, business is a catch-all label for commerce and trade, a practice that consists of finance (math), marketing (English), case studies (social science and/or history), and networking (partying). It is not a real study, not rooted in social care and compassion, nor historical lushness; it is a set of training wheels on the bicycle of “having a job,” and it shouldn’t exist anymore.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business is far and away the most popular major, making up about 20 percent of undergraduates. (Meanwhile, 16 percent of Americans say they have invested in failing cryptocurrency — coincidence? Probably not.) A business education consists of only the barest bones of other subjects and few topics that require greater analytical thought or problem-solving. A glance at NYU-Stern’s “business core” consists of the following classes:
- Information Technology in Business & Society (learning how to use the Macbook your parents bought you)
- Management and Organizations (learning how to share your GCal)
- Introduction to Marketing (learning how to enable an ad blocker on a website)
- Foundations of Finance (math)
- Managerial Accounting (different math)
- Operations Management (learning how to lie to your friend when you double-booked for dinner on a Wednesday night)
I’m not saying, obviously, that no one should do business (though…?). I’m saying that at the tender age of 18, the age in which my understanding of the human body was such that I was when I fell on my tailbone and thought it shattered and that I would poop out bone fragments, no one should be allowed to pursue the trade of business as a legitimate study. College, a fundamentally optional organization, should be for the study of subjects that cannot yield money, period. This kind of study, one divorced from future profit, would encourage serious, earnest thought and consideration, one that would level the playing field for jobs in and out of business alike.
If people want to get MBAs, or a master’s in business, that’s fine. It’s embarrassing, like all grad school, but more acceptable. There’s a reason that colleges don’t let students major in law, or medicine, or library science at the undergraduate level. These are fields that require a level of thought broader, more creative, and more complicated than a job would offer. Why does it take four years to major in business anyway? It takes all of five minutes to walk into a Starbucks, see that the products are constantly rebranded, its workers are underpaid, and the fonts are all the same. But for the noble accountants and project managers and business consultants, and god forbid, economists, this should be a post-graduate pursuit, one that really has to be chosen, not opted into, on par with becoming a surgeon, or worse, getting an MFA in fiction.