The Advantage of Non-Careerist Disciplines

by Jason Fertig

Thanks to Mark Bauerlein for allowing me to guest post on the Chronicle’s Brainstorm blog. In my essay, I figuratively compare business to the liberal arts by anthropomorphizing the two disciplines into fictitious athletic coaches. I argue that for many students, playing for a small, competitive team (i.e. liberal arts) is better life preparation playing in a “big-money” program (i.e. business school).

Taking my analogy one step farther, I’ve often wondered whether any business discipline aside from accounting really belongs at the undergraduate level. Traditional-age undergrads lack the life experience to truly learn anything from the wisdom of past (in my case, management) thinkers. It is the purest form of careerism/credentialing; undergraduate business students think they are signaling to employers that they are serious about a career because they are conditioned to think that “you can’t do anything with a philosophy major.”  

Yet, next to non-traditional students, the students who consistently make the richest contributions to my classroom are the liberal-arts students who cross over to take classes in the College of Business.

Employers must notice that too. Right?