Monday, June 08, 2009

DIY Learning

As I continue on my job search, one thing that I've been seeing a lot of in job descriptions is the old "MBA preferred, but not required" line. As someone with a Bachelors Degree who is interested in furthering my education, I have wrestled with the thought of getting my Masters Degree or an MBA. I even went as far as attending an MBA fair a few years ago. But the thing that has stopped me from proceeding is not desire, but money. According to Forbes Magazine, the cost for an average two-year MBA program is approximately $100,000.

In his book Small is the New Big, Seth Godin makes a case for not attending business school and getting an MBA. Of the three reasons to go to business school, "the third (and least important reason) to go to business school is to actually learn something. And this is where traditional business schools really fail. The core curriculum at business schools is as close to irrelevant as you can imagine. If you and I were trying to create a series of courses that would all but guarantee that, upon graduating, students would have no useful knowledge about how to do business in the new economy, today's business school curriculum would be a great model for us."

Coincidentally, Seth Godin makes a few suggestions for unemployed college students wishing to attend graduate school in his blog today.

There is a great amount of debate as to whether getting an MBA is worth it. Many will swear by it, while others may have a different story or experience. There are plenty of statistics that will defend either side of the argument. For the time being, I will not be pursuing an MBA. However, I will be intensifying my own education.

One web site I admire is The Personal MBA, which was founded by Josh Kaufman. According to its manifesto, The Personal MBA (PMBA) is designed to help you educate yourself about the world of business for a minimal cost...essentially the cost of the books. It argues that, it is the knowledge contained in these business books that gives you the tools and mental models to become educated about the business world. It also admits that it is not the books alone that will make an impact. The PMBA offers its users the opportunity to discuss these books in community forums and local communities.

I was intrigued to also read the list of recommended books, many of which I have read or have purchased. I will further investigate the books that I am less familiar with.

But ultimately, this DIY education is up to each of us. It assumes that we have the motivation and commitment to make learning a priority - to sit down and actually read these books and take notes and/or underline important points. It also means taking what we have learned and actually applying it to our lives.

Personally, I am determined to not let any financial limitations stop me from learning and professional development. In other words, I may not have made a financial commitment to further my education, but I have made a personal commitment.

In the past few weeks I have spent considerable time reading some interesting business, career and self-improvement books. I will be reviewing some of these books in future posts.

What are you doing to further your education? Are you ready to do it yourself?

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