I was catching up recently with a really great friend of mine who lives much too far away, and he mentioned something that piqued my interest. His wife works for one of those for-profit universities that offer all sorts of distance degree programs. He said she was enrolled in the MBA program for FREE because of her employment perks, and that he was enrolled in the same program with an 80% discount! I was exceedingly happy for him, but simultaneously I was fiercely jealous. My dad earned his MBA from Pepperdine and it served him incredibly well; several of my friends went to grad school instead of seeking employment; and it was something I was always intrigued by. I didn’t ask my friend what the typical cost of these programs would be, but I knew it was a decent chunk of change.
Several weeks have passed since that conversation, but i added to my to-do list ‘look into distance MBA programs’. I spent some time earlier this week looking into a few different options, ranging from University of North Carolina’s distance program to the University of Phoenix. I was actually somewhat surprised with what I found. UNC’s program was the highest I found at $92,000, and Phoenix was the cheapest at $27,000.
I felt a bit discouraged. The only reason I looked into these programs to begin with is because I want to learn a lot about business and entrepreneurship; I couldn’t care less about the title. I don’t need one shiny piece of paper with my name in calligraphy, I need curriculum.
Then I came across this extremely helpful article. Mr. Brodeur (the name of my 8th grade geometry teacher, coincidentally) had some incredibly valuable insights that I’d like to summarize.
Film director Quentin Tarantino famously said that no one should go to film school, but should instead invest that money into making a film. Similarly, it makes me wonder what I could do with the $92,000 it would take to get those three little letters under my belt. And with a payout on that investment taking 10+ years, the argument for an MBA is even less convincing for me.
2. The Library
We live in the Information Age. A huge amount of information is out there, ripe for the picking. There are several incredible online publications that I have the opportunity to immerse myself in, completely free of charge. Fast Company, Under 30 CEO, and Harvard Business Insider are just a small handful of the vast wealth of resources out there for anyone interested. iTunesU has some great curriculum from such esteemed universities as Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Berkeley, and more. Right on my phone. Incredible. Brodeur also mentioned The Khan Academy as a great resource for free online video lessons. I’ll definitely have to check them out further.
3. Learn By Doing
This is the motto at Cal Poly, where I earned my B.Arch. There is value in not simply learning in a vacuum, but tangibly creating while you learn. In the Architecture program, this was made manifest through countless all-nighters in studio building iterations of models. The process, Brodeur suggests, is very similar in business. Rather than spending years and buckets of cash to learn the theory of business, why not test that knowledge in real time by starting a business? Whatever you already know will help, but your gaps in knowledge will become glaringly apparent, and your need to fill those gaps will become that more imperative. The process works better hand in hand.
That article was exactly what I needed today. So no MBA program, I know that for sure. My goal is to start consuming a lot more information from around the Internet, buy a couple books, and dive into this thing headfirst. I’ve ordered Lean Startup, and the book Brodeur mentioned as a ‘game-changer’ for him is definitely intriguing. I’ll also start some of the iTunesU material on business basics and entrepreneurship, and look into the Khan Academy videos.