As the news media continue to debate the value of an advanced college education, applications to graduate schools of management and business continue to drop. But what does that say about undergraduate business programs? Should we automatically dismiss the statistics that obviously show stronger job placement for Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) graduates than their Bachelor of Arts (BA) counterparts?
Let us look at the numbers. At the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, 72.1 percent of students were seeking employment from the last graduating class, according to school statistics. Of those students, 88.4% had received a job offer within three months of graduation with a median base salary of $64,398. In comparison, 35.8 percent of Northwestern BA graduates in 2010 were employed upon graduation according to school surveys, although this does not account for those students who chose not to work in order to further future educational pursuits. Of those students employed, 33 percent of graduates went into business-related fields with an average salary of $49,368. Judging by the numbers, it is evident that more people are employed with a significantly higher salary coming out of a vocational business school, but does this justify studying business pre-professionally instead of a broad education of the liberal arts?
The liberal arts perspective teaches us otherwise. A broader education of the liberal arts forms such abilities as thinking diversely, assessing various arguments, and developing opinions through the qualitative measures. Liberal arts students come from diverse backgrounds, studying various subjects and exploring countless boundaries, while at the same are uninhibited by any forced track to business or any specific pre-professional track for that matter.
Still, its difficult to justify that one educational option is better than another. It is, however, nice to know that students armed with a liberal arts degree have options after graduation. Unlike at undergraduate business programs, students with an interest in business are not stuck under the label of a BBA and can gauge business through diverse educational lenses. Ultimately, students with a broader education have options – they can work in the financial industry or can use their liberal arts degrees to innovate and create something new through unique ideas.
Most importantly, studying under the broad spectrum of the liberal arts gives students a choice. Although professional career may be undetermined from the start of one’s college experience, a diverse array of educational experiences provides the motivation and skills for success.