Despite the recession, scandals, and bad-guy image of bankers and financiers, enrollment is up (as high as 15%) at many top-rated business schools. Instead of considering it risky business, Business Week’s Alison Damast reports students are investing time in school now, hoping the job situation will be better by graduation. Students and parents feel that business is a “practical” major, unlike liberal arts. But will the fresh crop of business majors change the face and image of US capitalism?
Despite the recession, tuition and other costs at higher education institutions are increasing. The tuition at the top 10 business schools is over $40,000/year. But business majors feel they have the best chance of making a good return on investment. Other professions, such as medicine, are experiencing decreasing quality of life, as insurance premiums soar and government reimbursements dips. But bonuses on Wall Street seem to be persistent and awesome.
One of the exceptions to the boom is in Arizona. The WR Carey School at ASU is boosting recruitment to help reverse the dropping enrollment on the West Campus. While tuition in Arizona remains relatively low, so probably does the perception of the prospects of getting high-paying jobs in Arizona after graduation from the 29th ranked business school.
There is hope that the graduates a few years from now will not put the country in the same precarious situation their predecessors have. In 2007, a study by the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education showed increases in courses in business school dealing with social and environmental responsibility. Courses in ethics and schools with that emphasis are attracting the new generation. In Aspen’s alternative rankings, Stanford ranked first for its encouragement of students and faculty to study how mainstream business can address social issues.
One area where changes in business schools are not being made as quickly as they could or should be is the diversity of the student body. Enrollment of minorities is less than 10% in the top 30 business schools. Though minority enrollment is slightly higher at ASU (13%), it still lags far behind in a State, where the minorities will soon become the majority.
Arizona has opportunities to solicit more students. Putting greater emphasis on integrating ethics into business curricula and increasing the recruitment of women and people of color could help facilitate the change in the perceptions, attitudes and priorities of business we need in the future.