Response to Vivek Wadhwa

There are many educational alternatives that have the potential to yield similar, if not greater, returns than the traditional MBA.

“Seriously, how can anyone legitimately argue that having less education–of any kind–makes you more qualified or better prepared than you otherwise would be?”

This rhetorical question was posed by John A. Byrne, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief at C-Change Media Inc. in his post last week titled “Why I’m Advising Startups to hire MBAs and Vivek Wadhwa is wrong”. Byrne asks a very interesting question that requires a follow-up qualification. How exactly do we define education?

It was great to see Vivek Wadhwa respond to comments, emails and posts similar to Byrne’s with the follow-up Look Before You Leap Into That MBA post. Wadhwa, an entrepreneur, advisor and lecturer at Duke and Stanford, is also an MBA graduate himself and his recent WSJ post has provoked a strong reaction on all sides of the issue. Vivek Wadhwa urges our generation to consider the options. His experience has taught him that there are many educational alternatives that have the potential to yield similar, if not greater, returns than the traditional MBA.

Traditional vs. Non-traditional Education

Old-school thinking leads many to believe that education can only be acquired through traditional institutions. It also boasts the false assumption that the increasing financial investment required to attend a traditional institution will yield a worthwhile return – irrespective of the learner’s ultimate goals. For many of us, young aspiring entrepreneurs looking to create disruptive companies, we have decided to transform our educational journeys and destroy the idea that a brick and mortar lecture hall is the only or even the best path to an elite business education.

Know Your Personal Mission

Now keep in mind, everyone is different. For some, getting a traditional MBA from a top business school is the best option. For others, choosing a path that requires $100,000 and 2 years can have real implications on both the accessibility and the flexibility that can be afforded to taking on that enormous cost. The option of experience-based learning is not a decision that can be made without careful evaluation of the learner’s personal mission and an in-depth cost comparison of alternative learning options.

We, aspiring business leaders, must ask ourselves how the economic value and the overall opportunity cost of getting a traditional MBA has changed over time. As time and markets change, so must our investment decisions.

By Tiffany Mikell

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