How To Talk Your Girl Friends Out of Going to Business School

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Working a shit job in a cube zoo hell-Labyrinth is a soul-sucking way for a woman to spend her twenties; attending graduate school so she can compose a thesis on menstrual shaming in early Gaelic literature is a money-sucking way for a woman to spend her twenties. But there's one way a woman can waste a few years of her prime and incur massive amounts of debt — business school. Which is why, if one of your lady friends is considering attending business school, you should do everything you can to talk her out of it.


Earlier this month, Jodi Kantor painted a grim picture of the way female students experience life at Harvard Business School — in case you don't have time to take from your busy schedule of looking at gifs of dogs riding around on Roombas, the short version of the piece is this: it is a brogasm so intense that the US geological survey can detect its presence, but Harvard is trying to make it better.

The New Yorker's Laura Hemphill takes it a step further, arguing that, even after its Elle Woods-ification, women would be better off just skipping biz school entirely. MBA = Maybe Bail Altogether.

As a Good Friend, it's therefore your responsibility to do what you can to prevent your female friends from making this egregious error. Using points Hemphill cites in her piece, I've composed a practice script to help you run through some possible pushback scenarios. Learn it. Memorize it. Practice it. Change the name "Karen" to the name of your friend, otherwise she might be confused.

Karen: But I need it for my career.
You: No, you don't, actually, Karen. :( (at this point you should actually make a sad face. Don't grin while delivering bad news; it makes you look evil). There are tons of CEO's who don't have their MBA's — Marissa Mayer, for example. Marissa Mayer was in Vogue looking so, so glamorous. You'll learn more about both glamour and business success if you just work your way up the ladder and stay at your job rather than hanging out in a classroom full of hooting and hollering ex-frat boys. Like your ex boyfriend Scott. Remember Scott? Did you know Laurie hooked up with him, too? No, it was after you two broke up. I think.

Karen: But it will give me more options.
You: Hear that very faint ticking sound, Karen? That's your biological clock (it looks like a Mickey Mouse clock, but instead of Mickey holding his hands up all wacky, the ovaries rotate around your uterus. That's why you always feel like you have gas at 6:30, Karen). The way a biological clock works is this: if you don't have babies by age 35, your uterus explodes. It's like the bus on Speed. Very painful, very messy. Like that time Stephanie had her period all over the Kappa mixer. Poor Stephanie. I heard she got divorced.

And I don't know if you knew this, but spending time when you could be having babies... um, not having babies puts you years behind your peers who stayed in the workforce. Starting a family takes a motherfuckton of time — at least a year for you to go actually insane planning a wedding, then a year to recover, then a year to talk about having kids, then a year to try to have kids, then a rest year, then another kid. If you start the whole process when you're in your late twenties, you're so far behind. You're gonna end up quitting.


Did you go to Maria's wedding? It was so weird. Yeah, I saw Scott there. He looked okay, I guess. His girlfriend is orange and, like, 12.

Karen: Whatever man; I'm not gonna quit like all those other girls.
You: Karen, I'm going to quote a great article I read in the lobby of my dentist's office right now:

A Vanderbilt study found that mothers who graduate from élite institutions are more likely to opt out than graduates of less selective ones, particularly when those women have M.B.A.s. Another Harvard study found that among Harvard college graduates with professional degrees, women with M.B.A.s have the lowest labor force participation rates. If anything, when a young woman considering a Harvard M.B.A. looks at the choices of her predecessors, she should be even more skeptical of the value of the degree.


No, Karen. I'm not calling you a liar. I'm just trying to help.

Karen: But (sound of cash register, iris/pupils in eyeballs transform to golden dollar signs).
You: Actually, Karen, business school costs women in 2 ways — the actual cost of attending (which is like $150K, at least) and the lost wages they're not earning by attending business school. Is it worth it to spend that much money to not learn anything useful around people who hate you? People like Scott's friend Alex? Alex is such a dick. Business school is for Alexes.


Karen: But where else am I going to meet an eligible future rich guy?
You: Actually, come to think of it, all business school sounds like it's good for is meeting unmarried Bros in their Pre-Businessbro form. Marry a Business Asshole. It's a very expensive, for little more than a networking event. Christ, Karen, have you thought about joining Match Dot Com? You're never gonna get over Scott.

[The New Yorker]



I am torn by this article. I directly benefited from going back to school. (Full disclosure: I got my Masters in Public Policy from a fairly prestigious school.) Despite my student loans, I have a better quality of life that I actually bought a new to me car and have a 1 bedroom apartment which were my aspirational goals in 2005.

When I researched my degree, I saw somewhere that it was the MBA for those who want to do "good". That pretty much is me. I am not a good fit for the private sector corporate world. In addition, if you are a person of color (as I am), the added piece of paper adds a level of legitimacy to those entities where the hoops are just a tad higher.

So, I would say do what works for you. Business school may not be the best choice, but a MPP, MSW, or any other terminal degree might. Do your research. In my case I've tripled my income and I have loans. But I will take that any day as opposed to being part of the working poor and wondering how I would survive.