The competitive landscape for colleges and universities in Michigan is vast and expansive. One of the biggest decisions facing “business-minded” students is which college or university to choose? There are so many factors that traditional-aged students and parents, alike, consider when selecting the “right” school. The returning, adult-learner likely has a few less ancillary factors to evaluate. However, factors such as modality (online, blended, on-campus) course delivery; quarters or semesters; program length; experiential credit waivers; and class-size often creep into the criteria for decision-making for both groups. Additionally, descriptors such as small/large, public/private, for-profit/not-for-profit, faith-based/nonfaith-based may also be weighted.
Campus life activities, student clubs, sports teams, and a pep squad may lose their relevance as students ascend to the north-side of age 23. On a more fundamental note, the question of “fit” may also create some anxiety for younger students. What about the other students? Will my professors like me? Will I like the campus, the professors, or the other students? Yes, many business-minded students also have these types of concerns. As practical as business education may appear from the outside, most college administrators and faculty have realized the importance of helping to create well-rounded students who learn to appreciate and contribute to the community (campus-local-national-and to some extents global).
Both segments, traditional-aged students, and returning, adult learners may find some common ground in evaluating the significance of the location, costs, reputation, and rankings when deciding which school and or program to choose. Regardless of a student’s age in either of these two segments, they stand united in the question of: “Will I get a desirable job or a more desirable job, after degree completion?” The question of fit moves to a larger playing field. Annually, each early Spring (June) and early Fall (December), cohorts of graduates are available for employers to recruit from large candidate pools. Administrators and business faculty have most recently come to realize which end of the telescope they and their schools or programs are on. Which side? Both sides. Employers still look to colleges and universities to serve as a key pipeline for talent. And, on the other end of the spectrum, prospective students of all ages seek colleges and universities to best, prepare them for the workplace. Remembering to consider that formal business education is by no means a substitute for experience or a rite of passage for a final C-Suite position.
With such critical thinking going on outside of business education from multiple perspectives and stakeholders, besides a rigorous curriculum, what other types of thinking and planning could be going on inside of business education? Are college and university business programs, mere intermediaries in principle, acting as agents to prepare, develop, and deliver talented, employees and entrepreneurs to society and industry? From this lens, business education is indeed a social good, still maintaining the gist of capitalism, whether graduates find themselves best-suited for the private/public sector or the profit or not-for-profit sector.
Curriculum and Accreditation
Most bachelor degree business programs require at least 30 credit hours (10 – three credit hour courses) of general education topics. This coursework consists of (English composition, science and math, social sciences, and humanities). The Business Core and the Business Major usually constitute the other 90 credit hours (30 – three credit hour courses) needed to fulfill complete, bachelor degree requirements. Curriculum development is governed by the faculty and the academic, administration at most institutions.
As for accreditation, there is mandatory (federal) accreditation required for institutions who offer federal, financial aid to students. Higher Education Institutions in Michigan (which are first authorized by the State of Michigan to provide higher education) who offer federal financial aid are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The purpose of accreditation according to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation is to review the quality of higher education institutions and programs. In the United States, accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides a quality education. Three accrediting bodies offer programmatic/voluntary accreditation for business programs, departments, and schools: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.
- AACSB (founded in 1916): We foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education.
- ACBSP (founded in 1988): promotes continuous improvement and recognizes excellence in the accreditation of business education programs around the world.
- IACBE (founded in 1997): promotes and recognizes excellence in business education in institutions of higher education worldwide, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, through specialized accreditation of business programs.
Does the quality of an institution’s curriculum, faculty, and its accreditation(s) matter? Yes, these are factors that help to develop strong, business graduates. But as an employer would you say “NO” to hiring the following individuals: Anne Beiler, Andrew Perlman, and David Green – Founders of Auntie Ann’s Pretzels, Cignal Global Communications, and Hobby Lobby, respectively? These, three pioneers mentioned above attained no degrees via collegiate, business education. They are anomalies. For the rest of us, a business degree is still a valuable asset, and a means to develop many of the skills that employers are seeking. According to the National Association of College and Employers, the top ten attributes that employers seek on a candidate’s resume are as follows:
- Communication Skills (written & oral)
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical/Quantitative Skills
- Technical skills
The delivery of high-quality education and training which increases the degree of graduates’ drive, ambition, preparation, skills, and determination, is what matters in business education.
Cleamon Moorer is the dean of the College of Business at Baker College in Flint, Michigan’s largest private, not-for-profit higher education institution.