Many Succeed in Business School Without Really Trying

Both students, teachers to blame
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2011 1:03 PM CDT

(Newser) – A senior accounting major at one Virginia university only goes to class to take tests or give presentations. On weeks he doesn't have a test, he may not crack open a textbook. If he has a take-home test, he can usually Google the answers. In a typical day, he says, “I just play sports, maybe go to the gym. Eat. Probably drink a little bit. Just kind of goof around all day.” His GPA? 3.3. His story illustrates a growing problem with undergrad business programs across the country: Seen as a "default major" by many, more students are gravitating toward business degrees—and finding themselves able to skate through the curriculum. In a lengthy collaborative article, the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education examine the problem.

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Business is the most popular field of study in the US, with more than 20% of all bachelor's degrees awarded annually falling under the business umbrella, but business majors spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying outside of class—less time than students in any other broad field. They also, ironically enough, score lower on the GMAT—the entry exam for MBA programs—than students in other majors. Some of the blame lies with students, many of whom choose to study business out of a desire to get a job rather than a desire to actually learn about business. But professors also contribute to the problem by assigning too many group projects and often not having a clear idea of what the students in their classes should learn. (Sample course goal: "Students will be able to understand the complexities of decision making.") Click for the full piece. (Read more business stories.)

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