The great University holding tank

So wait a minute: Why am I going to the Carlson School of Management again? I think I remember there being a reason back when I had a 4.0 grade point average back when I was still young enough to think institutions had some kind of true value in the world; back, in short, when I was a fool.

It’s simple really; I, and everyone else in the Carlson School, came to be successful in the world. Doesn’t seem so wrong, does it? Carlson School has a prestigious name, a fancy-looking building and a legion of faculty members that have all “been successful” in the business realm. Surely this would be the place I would learn how to master the world, how to master myself and to understand what success means. Interestingly, it has become exactly that, though not quite how I expected.

The Carlson School is a joke, and here’s why: The place sets a high admission standard to get only strong students. After that, it doesn’t matter what the school tries to “teach” them; the students will be successful and bring goodwill (in the form of name recognition, or perhaps donations) back to the school by virtue of the fact that they had to be capable and competent to get into the silly place. I’m not the only one who thinks this; why am I the first to say it?

The fact of the matter is we are not encouraged to say it. Truth and perception are not virtues to an institution that needs to hide that the most important, and only truly necessary, business skills are people skills and communication skills. It’s common sense, curiously becoming less and less common.

Sure, you need the degree on your resume to look better than the next poor bloke, but when does the web of accepting what isn’t relevant and true ensnare too much? After you’ve worked at that big corporation most your life and you still hate your job, will you even know where your life went wrong?

I understand that the University needs to make money, and that requiring a seemingly ridiculous load of irrelevant classes is the most practiced and accepted way to get it from students, but perhaps the University should think about its mission for once. If you ask me, its mission should be to prepare the next generation to stand up and be strong and truthful. No generation has ever really been taught that – or really ever done that – since the beginning of time.

Perhaps I speak too harshly. Of course, accountants need to know how to account and financial managers had better know all those present-value calculations. People might actually need that esoteric way of combining a query and a pivot chart in Microsoft Access (although probably not). My point is that there is an enormous constituency of people here who will really need to be “people” people. Small teams people. Honest, direct and prudent people. Business people. And the Carlson School can put on as much of a show as they want; they are still fundamentally failing these people.

But what can we do? We broke, lost, confused students who just want to play it safe and get a degree like mom said and maybe get a house and a life where we can be happy someday? We don’t need to do anything. If that is your path, you walk it willingly. But remember that every moment is a new chance to do something you believe in; indeed, every moment you have is the only chance.

Curt Navratil is a University junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]