Naive Observations Prompted by Foster

A) Business schools are difficult to get into – for freshman and those who finish core courses. When our students transfer they are told the average required for business is 3.8 or 3.9 (liberal arts is around 3, some engineering are lower than that, education is always low). The courses for engineering are, however, much more demanding. My daughter found the meeting for incoming liberal arts students at a 4-year school dominated by the majority who wanted to strategize getting into business. This emphasis on grade point means business attracts smart, competent majors; it may, however, discourage risk takers and people who want to take challenging classes.

B) When I was advising I found many students were pushed by their parents who ran businesses and thought that major would bring an acumen they lacked. I wonder if horticulture would help a florist or greenhouse business, construction science a home builder, etc. more. (Not that basic courses in accounting, management law, etc. wouldn’t be useful.)

C) In papers we typed, bound, etc., management techniques seemed “proved” in a soft science way. With my background in Henry James, I soon realized it takes an idiot to lose money in oil companies during boom years & a genius to make it during rough ones. Their examples were from boom years and seldom acknowledged the problems with such a cyclic industry. When I began in 1979, typing was a decent part of our business; when I sold it in 1992, papers had become a smaller – if much easier – part. Now, few make a living typing student papers. Such changes in technology are not always addressed in pure management models.

D) On the other hand, the business that bought me out was run by guys coming through business school. They were young and energetic when I was getting tired, but they also knew what they were doing. They are still making a good profit.

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