Ever since the housing market crash of 2008, which came after the dot-com crash of 2000, many people seem nervous about bubbles. Understandably so. It was no fun to go through the chaos of the markets and watch your home or stock portfolio – or both – lose massive amounts of value in a matter of weeks.
For several years now, there’s been talk of a bubble in Silicon Valley – and for even longer, there’s been people saying that about the MBA itself. We’re seeing more and more signs that the former is happening but we’re just not sure about the latter. We first discussed the “MBA bubble” thing here on the blahg in summer 2011, and touched on it again a couple months back. Another respected entrepreneur-turned-VC, Marc Andreessen, claims that we’re not in a bubble, though he admits that the influx of MBAs to tech companies would be an indication of one (not sure if he was kidding with that comment or not). The jury is out. Even (or especially) the experts are notoriously bad at predicting the future.
And EssaySnark is no expert in economics nor high-powered VC. All we can talk about is what we see on the ground with MBA admissions. What we know about that is that there are a LOT more Brave Supplicants pitching entrepreneurial goals in their MBA applications than ever – massive amounts of them – and in the past six months especially, we’re seeing a market shift from the schools where they’re starting to encourage it.
Dean Hubbard of Columbia made comments in an interview on Fox recently talking about the rise of interest in tech startups and how startups are booming in NYC and how Columbia grads are flocking to them. Cornell and Google have a partnership in New York with the new Tech MBA at Johnson.
Frankly, all of this should be a warning sign.
Schools and universities – including MBA programs – are not exactly the first movers in our economy. Maybe they learned something in the past two decades (hopefully) but their historical slow adoption to change means that when a bschool is embracing a big new “trend”, that, to us, is a warning sign that the trend may be close to flaming out.
There are some exceptions to this – NYU, for example, launched a Big Data program surprisingly long ago (their MS in Business Analytics has been around since like 2012). And, in the throes of the 2008 market meltdown, some schools became almost nimble, with professors throwing out their syllabi and reacting dynamically to the events of the world within their classroom curriculum. Wharton did this (see the paragraph about their “24-hour teach-ins” in this article), and by 2009, it was even more widespread (this article talks about undergrad programs’ reaction to the crisis).
However, as Darden Dean Bruner says in this 2009 WSJ interview, “business schools tend to be followers” – and we’re starting to be concerned on the behalf of Brave Supplicants everywhere about how these trends may collide.
The positive near-term outcome of these shifts for many of you will be that adcoms are going to be more open to hearing a short-term entrepreneurial career goal. We’re still going to push back mightily when we see someone pitching this, but it’s not hard to see that the schools have become more accepting of such goals in an application.
On the negative side? Well, if you really do bounce into bschool with stars in your eyes and decide that you’re going to launch your change-the-world business while you’re there … we just are skeptical how this is going to turn out.
If you peruse the pages of any bschool newspaper you will see PLENTY of articles and announcements about PLENTY of student startups; they’re all the rage! Here’s one. And another. A BSer recently pointed out to us that Harvard claims that 50% of its grads will start a business within 15 years of graduation.
Nice statistic, but how many of them are successful?
To be continued… CONTINUED HERE)
Tell us what you think.