With the cost of college and grad school rising faster than ever, is business school in particular still worth the cost of the investment?
If you invest more than $100,000 and 2 years of your life, do you get a good return on your capital?
Well, like many things in life, the answer is that it depends. It depends on what you hope to get out of the experience, as well as where you go, and a whole variety of other factors.
However for what it’s worth I can share my own opinion. Which is only my own opinion, and I respect that others had a different experience.
When I was 24 years old and in my second year as an associate at bond rating agency Moody’s, business school seemed like a gateway to a more exciting corner of the financial world.
At the time I was working for a group that rated asset-backed commercial paper programs, and let’s just say it wasn’t the most exciting market ever (although it would be fascinating to look back on years later).
I started asking some of the older guys I worked with about business school, and the consensus was that it can help you get a better job, although if you’re looking for financial insight, that might not be where you find it.
Looking back 14 years later I’d say that’s pretty accurate. It did help me eventually join a trading shop where I would receive great training in decision making. For which I’m still grateful for today. The experience also helped shape part of my journey, in that way that life often does, regardless of our own opinion about it at the time.
However financial insight?
Not so much.
Again, perhaps the entrepreneurial or marketing departments were great and I just didn’t know about it. But if you were interested in the financial markets or any sort of trading job, you were always told to take Jeremy Seigel’s class.
For those unfamiliar, Seigel is a Wharton economics professor who is well known for his book “Stocks for the Long Run” and also a generally Fed-like monetary perspective.
In other words, he was there teaching the same spend and print mantra that we’ve come to know from the Wall Street and the Fed. The idea that any time the economy is weak that the solution is to just run the printing press faster.
In hindsight I wonder if there’s some correlation between what you’re taught and reaching the higher levels of Wall Street institutions. In 2009 when I started sharing my “contrarian” view (to put it kindly) I could see that it wasn’t particularly welcomed. I was never silenced, although certainly it seemed like most of the people I met either had never really looked at the bigger picture, or just simply didn’t care.
So in terms of asking whether the material I learned was worth the cost of the education I would say no. Especially with the incredible learning tools available on the internet, at least in my opinion there are better and more affordable ways to learn and network.
If you’re interested in working for a corporation that requires an MBA, then maybe it’s the right decision for you.
But if you’re going there hoping to get the real picture about how Wall Street really works, I’d rather just watch the Arcadia Economics youtube channel and use the tuition money to buy some silver.
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