Do you have a killer idea for a new product or service?
Or maybe you’re already an entrepreneur but you’re not sure how to take your business to the next level.
Maybe you just like the competitive, high-paced look of the business world and you’re unsure how to get your foot in the door, or which role you’re best suited to.
Or maybe you’re not sure what you want to do yet or don’t know what you should major in, and so you thought a business degree might be a good “safe” foundation while you figure things out.
Whichever the case, you’re probably wondering whether going to business school is a good idea and whether a business degree is even worth it.
If this is you, keep reading to find the answer to the question “is a business degree worth it?”
What Do You Learn When You Study a Business Degree?
Business is a broad field that spans a lot of different roles and skills. As a result, most business degrees try to cover a variety of bases.
Most business degree programs try to build foundational knowledge on subjects like accounting, finance, marketing, management, information technology, organizational behavior, human resources, logistics, and international business.
You may be thinking “that sounds pretty good, I want to learn about all of those things.” You’d think that after four years of studying these subjects, you’d emerge with a business degree and be ready for anything.
Sadly, that’s just not the case for a lot of graduates. Below, we’ll unpack why.
8 Reasons a Business Degree Is Not Worth It
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons a business degree just isn’t worth it.
Reason 1: You Won’t Learn the Skills You Actually Need in Business School
A recent survey of employers conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers revealed that the five skills most valued by employers are:
- Problem-solving skills (91.2 percent)
- Teamwork skills (86.3 percent)
- Strong work ethic (80.4 percent)
- Analytic skills (79.4 percent)
- Communication skills (written) (77.5 percent)
Surely you learn these skills while studying towards a business degree?
Not so fast.
The College Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) is a standardized test taken by freshmen and seniors at more than 200 colleges across the U.S. to measure how students’ capabilities improved over the course of their studies.
The data for 2013-2016 reveals that business majors make considerably fewer gains in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing and communication than science, engineering, and maths students, as well as liberal arts majors (history, literature, philosophy, etc.).
According to a PayScale survey, some 50 percent of employers feel that college graduates aren’t prepared for the workplace. The top complaints?
- 60 percent of employers felt that critical thinking and problem-solving skills are lacking,
- 44 percent felt that graduates’ writing proficiency is inadequate, and
- 39 percent felt that graduates lack public speaking skills.
The skills business graduates are failing to learn are almost an exact match for the valued skills that employers say graduates are lacking.
If you’re thinking “OK, I’ll just major in one of those other fields and I’ll be fine,” sorry, no.
Other majors didn’t fare much better, according to an analysis of the results by The Wall Street Journal.
At more than half of the participating schools, at least a third of seniors were found to be incapable of forming a cohesive argument, interpreting data in a table correctly, or accurately assessing the quality of evidence in a document. This data reveals that even at some of the top colleges in the country, the average graduate made little to no gains in these crucial skills over the course of their four-year degrees.
It really makes you wonder whether college is worth it.
Undergraduate business degrees tend to place a lot of focus on finance and accounting and not enough on developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. An analysis of 10 public universities in Texas revealed that out of 40 courses required for a business degree, only three required a writing assignment of at least ten pages, and only one required an assignment of 20 pages or more.
Of course, essay length isn’t necessarily an indicator of critical thinking, problem-solving, or even communication ability, but projects of this scale give individuals a chance to apply (and question) what they’ve learned and practice articulating cohesive arguments.
Of course, essay length in itself isn’t necessarily an indicator of critical thinking, problem-solving, or even communication ability, but projects of this scale give individuals a chance to apply and (and question) what they’ve learned and practice articulating cohesive arguments.
Companies need adaptable employees with a broad, diverse knowledge base, creative thinking capabilities, and strong problem-solving and communication skills – which many business majors sadly lack.
Reason 2: The Cost of Tuition Is Crazy
A four-year undergraduate business degree can set you back up to $50,000 dollars per year, depending on the college you attend.
The annual average cost of attending a four-year college is $26,120, amounting to a current average total cost of attendance of $104,480 over four years. And that doesn’t include student loan interest.
That’s the national average. The average cost of private college tuition is $36,801 per year, and at least 120 ranked private colleges charge over $50,000 per year.
The average cost of tuition, fees, room and board has skyrocketed over time, rising from $18,470 in 1971 to $49,870 per year for private nonprofit four-year institutions and from $8,890 to $21,950 for public four-year institutions.
It’s no wonder the U.S. is experiencing a student debt crisis, with more than $1.6 trillion in collective student loan debt.
Reason 3: Business Degree Earning Potential is Underwhelming
A recent survey by LendEDU found that on average, college students expect to make $60,000 in their first job, whereas the actual median salary for graduates with 0-5 years of experience is $48,400.
That’s across all majors though. What about business degrees?
If the reason you’re considering studying business is to make buckets of money, we’ve got some bad news. According to PayScale’s analysis of starting and mid-career salaries of various majors, Business & Economics ranks 87th (at $56,800 and $110,500 respectively), with majors like Political Economy, Foreign Affairs, Astronomy, and Information & Decision Sciences ranking higher.
And that’s if you actually graduate. Some 34 million Americans over the age of 25 — that’s more than 10 percent of the entire US population — have some college credits but dropped out before graduating. Many of these individuals are worse off than if they had never gone to college in the first place, having taken on debt to attend college in the first place. On average, college dropouts earn $4 less per hour than high school graduates with vocational training or a professional certificate.
That said, we believe that dropping out (and saving yourself additional debt) is still a smarter move than staying in college for four years. If you’re not getting what you want out of college, dropping out is the sane thing to do – even if you don’t have a plan (yet).
If you’ve dropped out or you’re considering dropping out, don’t let this number demotivate you – the fact that you’re actively making a decision about what’s right for you means you’re probably not the kind of person who’s going to settle for less. Instead, let it motivate you to continue to invest in yourself through self-directed education.
The average starting annual income for Praxis graduates is $50K per year. The Praxis program only takes a year to complete and equips you with practical skills and experience – and guarantees you a full-time job (so, yeah, we’re biased, but we know which route we think is the better investment).
Reason 4: A Business Degree Won’t Set You Apart From the Crowd
With more Americans holding degrees now than at any point in history, degree inflation is off the charts. Simply put, the more people have degrees, the less valuable a degree is in helping you stand out from the crowd.
Business degrees are a dime a dozen these days. Considering almost a fifth of all undergraduates major in business, you’ll have a fair amount of competition trying to enter the workplace if you don’t have specific skills and experience to set you apart from the thousands of other business graduates applying for the same jobs.
Reason 5: Underemployment Is High Among General Business Majors
There’s a common belief that getting a degree will lead to a better job. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case, and business majors are no exception.
According to an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted by Stephen Moret, nearly 50 percent of General Business and Marketing majors are underemployed – working jobs that don’t require a college degree. Similarly, about 30 percent of Business: Accounting, Finance, and MIS majors are underemployed.
Reason 6: Business School Wastes Time You Could Have Spent Making Money and Gaining Experience
How long it takes to get a business degree varies wildly depending on the institution and the student. To get a Bachelor’s in business administration, you’d need to earn 124 credit hours, which translates into a four-year degree for most students.
That’s four years of potential missed opportunities, projects, experiences, and real-world lessons that could have prepared you for the real challenges of the business world. Not to mention the loss of income you could have earned in four years of working full-time.
Great ideas can’t always wait four years, and putting your ideas and projects on hold while you go to college can have a huge opportunity cost. Someone else might develop your idea first, or market conditions (or you) might change so that your idea no longer seems like such a moneymaker by the time you graduate. Or worse, you might leave college loaded with debt and end up taking the first job offer you get just to make ends meet and forget all about your great idea.
If you’re brave enough to take risks and bet on yourself and your ideas without a business degree backing you, simply starting is a far more direct route to learning what works and what doesn’t. If you’re afraid you’ll fail because you don’t know enough, don’t be. You’ll learn more, faster, by trying and failing than not trying at all.
Reason 7: You Don’t Need a Business Degree to Succeed in the Business World
The idea you need a business degree to succeed in business is just flat out wrong. Plenty of highly successful people don’t have a degree or dropped out of college.
If you’re ambitious, curious, and hardworking, you can learn everything you need to know to build a successful career on your own terms, whether you work your way up the corporate ladder or build your own business from the ground up.
These statistics about entrepreneurship reveal that you’d be in good company if you started your own business:
- Around 16 million Americans are self-employed, according to recent BLS data.
- 62 percentof U.S. adults think that entrepreneurship is a good career choice.
- 27 millionAmericans of working age are starting or running a new business.
- Only around 44 percentof entrepreneurs have a college degree of any kind.
That’s a lot of people betting on themselves. And the good news is that even if you start your own business – or even multiple businesses – and eventually decide to work for someone else instead, the experience, knowledge, and skills you gained in the process are likely to make you a far more appealing candidate in the eyes of prospective employers than a business degree with little experience.
Reason 8: You Don’t Need A Business Degree to Learn About Business
We live in an age where everything is available online, and that includes all the knowledge, connections, and opportunities you could ever gain attending business school.
Anything you can’t learn online can be gained through hands-on, real-world experience, whether that’s through job shadowing, internships, volunteer work, part-time jobs, working for free, or building your own business.
- If you work full-time, you can spend your evenings or early mornings acquiring the knowledge and skills you need to master what you love.
- If you want international business experience, go intern at a startup abroad for a couple of months – it’ll still cost you less than a business degree and likely look more interesting on your resume. Plus you’ll learn a lot.
- As for networking, with tools like LinkedIn, Meetup, and virtual conferences and webinars, it’s easier than ever to form valuable professional connections by networking online.
Why not craft your own education and put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life?
Skip the Business Degree – Apply for Praxis Instead
Praxis is a college alternative that puts you in the driver’s seat of your education and career and helps you get ahead for good – without breaking the bank or taking years off your life.
We designed the Praxis program to help people like yourself learn the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to thrive in the business world in as short a time as possible. This way, Praxis participants can jumpstart their careers and go from learning to earning without having to jump through hoops and check off a bunch of arbitrary boxes.
The Praxis Way
We believe that the key to building a successful career – whether that means impressing potential employers or customers – is being able to create value and being able to demonstrate that you can create value for others. At Praxis, you’ll learn how to do both in spades.
In our 12-month program, you’ll learn the skills businesses actually need, like how to think creatively, solve problems, work as part of a team, and communicate effectively. You’ll gain experience in crucial business roles like sales, marketing, social media, business writing, invoicing, pitching, management, and customer service, so you can get a solid sense of what makes you come alive and what bores you to tears.
You’ll also practice building an impeccable work ethic and good work habits through self-directed projects that require that you “ship” (as Seth Godin would say) frequently and consistently. On top of honing your skills and building your self-confidence, these projects will form part of a portfolio that you can use as a signal to show future employers the kind of person you are and the type of value you can create for them.
If all of this seems a little scary, don’t sweat it. You’ll have plenty of support and mentorship to help you figure it out at every step of the process. We’ll help you stress-test and experiment and discover your own interests and talents and how those line up with valuable workplace skills, and in the course of the 6-month bootcamp portion of the program, we’ll help you identify a company you’d like to work for, guide you through the job-hunt process, and continue to mentor and coach you for 6 months after you’re hired full-time.
We believe that our success should be tied to yours, which is why we’ve put skin in the game: if you’re not hired full-time within 6 months of completing the bootcamp, you don’t pay a cent.
Praxis by Numbers:
- The bootcamp portion of the program requires a weekly time commitment of 10-15 hours (which gives you plenty of flexibility to work part- or full-time during the program).
- 96% of Praxis graduates are hired full-time within 6 months of graduating from the program.
- Praxis tuition is $12K, though you have the option to defer paymentuntil you’re hired and earning.
- The average first-year annual income of Praxis participants is $50K.
Ready to kickstart your career?
Hit the Apply button below and don’t hesitate to reach out via our live chat if you have any questions at all.