I’m good with abbreviations. Like WTF RU asking that’s TMI. I’m also good at talking like a 12-year old girl and not making much sense.

Ah, the MBA, the better known acronym for the Masters of Business Administration course. According to the knower of all things, Wikipedia, an MBA is:

A master’s degree in business administration (management). The MBA degree originated in the United States in the early 20th century when the country industrialized and companies sought scientific approaches to management. The core courses in an MBA program cover various areas of business such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, and operations in a manner most relevant to management analysis and strategy. Most programs also include elective courses.

The MBA is a terminal degree and a professional degree.Accreditation bodies specifically for MBA programs ensure consistency and quality of education. Business schools in many countries offer programs tailored to full-time, part-time, executive (abridged coursework typically occurring on nights and/or weekends), and distance learning students, many with concentrations.

Basically, an MBA is a master’s degree in business. You take it if you’re looking to be a big player in the business world. Graduates of various MBA programs around North America are often well represented in management ranks of the best companies.

As is always the case, the effectiveness of MBA programs are up for debate. According to one study, the average MBA holder had a salary of around US$100,000 per year, which is much higher than even the average college graduate. But another study said first year MBA grads were barely out-earning their bachelor’s degree peers. So I dunno, but I would be willing to wager the average MBA holder is going pretty well.

As always, you can use studies to support whatever cockamamie theory you have. NEW STUDY SAYS KITTENS AND PUPPIES CAUSE CANCER. OH IT MUST BE TRUE.

One of the major downfalls of MBAs is the price tag. It’s rare to find a program with tuition of under $10,000 here in Canada, with MBAs from elite business schools charging close to $100,000 in tuition to complete the two year program. In the land of guns and terrible presidential races, top schools charge more than $150,000 for students to get that head start in the world of business, although these programs are clearly catered to really rich kids.

Because of how expensive the program has become, a bunch of alternatives have sprung up. Distance learning is always an option for students who don’t want to take time off work to get their MBA. These programs aren’t particularly cheap, but it does come with the nice bonus of not having to quit your job and the freedom to do the course from your mother’s basement. Many other people take advantage of part-time MBA programs, which both allows them to learn while working and spread out the cost over a longer period of time.

But that’s apparently not enough for you CHEAP BASTARDS, so a few enterprising people have lowered the cost even lower–to $0.

These people attest all one really needs to get an MBA is to learn the same things as those in the classroom. Sure, you could read the same textbooks and even take the same tests, but that’s all overkill. All you really need to do is learn the same lessons and you’re in business. And since fun business books are a much better choice than textbooks, these folks assert you can get the equivalent of an MBA education for about a buck fifty in late charges at the local public library.

36439-good-will-hunting

Why so angry Will Hunting? I wouldn’t know, I’ve only seen the first half hour of the movie.

Now I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading, because I do believe it’ll make you richer. I try to spend at least an hour a day reading books, and that doesn’t include listening to audiobooks while I huff and puff climbing a set of stairs on the elliptical. Reading a book is one of the best investments you can make.

But on the flip side, there’s no way anyone can equate reading even 100 books to getting an MBA. There’s just no comparison.

 

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The real advantage 

The real reason why people get MBAs isn’t knowing the information. It’s the connections they make.

Everybody is in the program for the same reason–to get ahead in the business world. Some might want to get into management of a Fortune 500 company. Some might be there to learn the ins and outs of business before going into investment management. And others might want to learn everything they can about the world before starting their own company. And some might have went to the wrong classroom and decided this was much better than sociology.

The world is filled with stories of MBA folk sticking together. In the amount of time it’ll take you to read this sentence, 14 MBA grads will have pitched 14 former classmates 14 different ideas.

Having a network of highly paid, highly educated, and highly ambitious people to lean on has all sorts of advantages. I used to think I was perfectly fine approaching the world alone. Now I realize the importance of having a vast array of contacts. You should too.

And you gotta admit, an MBA designation after your name on a resume or a business card will impress the average person. I’m not about to go back to college at my age, but if I did, the journey would likely end with an MBA.

In 2016, there are a number of ways one can get a “free” MBA. They can read a number of timeless business books. They can use free online courses to take actual classes from actual universities. And so on. But ultimately, much of the benefit of the program is the connections made. And you won’t get that staring at a computer screen or a Kindle.

Tell everyone, yo!