ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

$44,000 to learn about Microsoft Excel

Very interesting article in the WSJ today about a journalists experience attending the Harvard Business School (or HBS).

It's a must read, discussing the new-age b.s. that passes for a degree at an elite university. However, here are a few things which caught my eye:

Back to School,
Turning Crimson

August 5, 2008; Page A17

Ahead of the Curve
By Philip Delves Broughton
(Penguin Press, 283 pages, $25.95)
In any case, no serious student, even a serious Harvard student, should have to suffer through New Age group bonding games, as Mr. Delves Broughton and his classmates are forced to do. Another required "personal development exercise" is called "My Reflected Best Self." He quotes the instructions: "The Reflected Best-Self Feedback Exercise differs from other performance mechanisms in its explicit focus on understanding how key constituents experience individuals when they leverage their strength constructively."

Mr. Delves Broughton remains appropriately appalled at this, but as the semesters wear on and he unspools his story, he shows signs of succumbing to a version of Stockholm Syndrome -- a hostage identifying, if not with his captors, then at least with his professors, even those who pretend to teach "leadership skills." His prose, usually breezy and ironic, begins to sprout words like "team-focused." By the end of his two years in Cambridge, Mass., he writes, "I was happy I went." He knows how to do a regression analysis, and he has learned how to make an Excel spreadsheet do everything but play canasta.

Keep in mind that tuition at the Harvard Business School is $43,800 - per year. Total estimated annual costs are approximately $80,000 after room & board, health services, etc.

I hate to break it to Mr. Delves Broughton, but there are less expensive ways to learn about the robust features of Microsoft Excel or how to perform a regression analysis. These are skills which could be taught at any local community college, for example.

Or he could have simply called this guy and gotten a free CD with the info on Excel. If he wasn't completely satisfied, he could have gotten his money back, less shipping & handling.

Heck, he may have even learned how to make Excel play canasta.

For $200k, I'd be happy to show him (or program Excel to do it)!!!!

Apparently they do not teach Return On Investment analysis at HBS, because Mr. Delves Broughton would've realized that his personal ROI for such a shoddy education will likely never turn positive in his lifetime.

Then, this final paragraph from the story:
He hasn't found a suitable job yet, though, and readers will be happy to see that he retains a hint of skepticism about the whole HBS enterprise -- enough, at least, to include this wonderful bit of data from a study by a banking analyst who tried to track the American equity markets in relation to the number of HBS graduates who chose to go to work in finance each year. If the figure was less than 10%, the market went up not long after. More than 30% and the market was headed for a crash. In 2006, Mr. Delves Broughton reports, 42% of the HBS grads went to work in finance. Right on schedule.

Ahh... the eager, entitled, and worthless HBS grads heading off into a particular industry to wreck it with their lack of knowledge.

How predictable...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler