Our country is in an education crisis! Students are graduating without jobs and owing punishing amounts of debt. Tuition continues to spiral out of control. Colleges are finding it more difficult to attract good students in light of the rising cost of education. Many experts believe we are heading towards a catastrophic bubble.
Relax people. The problem isn’t as disastrous as some claim. It all has to do with the curriculum. If our students emerged from universities better prepared for life in the business world, there would be more opportunities awaiting them and graduates would be fully prepared for, well, work.
Here are just a few courses I believe every fine business school should offer.
Psychology 101: Dealing With the Mentally Challenged (3 credits)
This class explores the key issues the typical small-business owner faces every day: people issues. Topics covered include:
Engineering 897: How to Talk to an Engineer (3 credits)
Engineers are quirky people—extremely detailed, fussy and oftentimes emotionally unstable—but it’s the engineers who come up with all the new and cool tech products that venture capitalists are so anxious to fund. In this course, business students will learn how to talk to engineers about … whether the Wrath of Khan was truly better than Star Trek: First Contact, or in a battle among Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Catwoman, Hulk, Solid Snake, Vampire Lestat, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Flash, Mario, the Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, and Captain America, who would win.
History 635: The History of Small Business (3 credits)
Small-business owners have never had it easy. From the days of Caesar to the current Obama administration, shopkeepers and light manufacturers have been forced to pay exorbitant taxes, undergo excessive regulation and search for that right peasant who will show up to work on time or hasn’t been drafted to fight the Gauls (or Taliban). In this course, students will delve into the oftentimes repetitive and frustrating story of what it’s like to run a small business since the beginning of time. Students will learn how the business people of ancient Athens profited by outsourcing production to the hard-working Carthaginians, the high cost of health care during the bubonic plague, and the innovative ways French shopkeepers avoided taxes during Napoleon’s reign (hint: even back then, cash was really the king).
Economics 833: Working at the Dry Cleaners (3 credits)
Students in this required class will be assigned to dry cleaners across our university’s city to spend an entire semester doing what the typical small-business owner does: working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., folding the laundry, operating the machines, sweeping the floor, manning the cash register, being nice to customers even when they complain or barely notice your existence, triple-checking your supplier’s invoice to make sure he’s not cheating you (again), dealing with that leaky pipe in the basement, and making nice with the landlord even though you can’t stand him but you’re afraid he’s going to raise your rent next year. An apple and half of a cheese sandwich will be provided each day for lunch. Those that show up on time, get all their work done, and complain bitterly about how much they hate what they do all day will receive the highest grades.
CompSci 344: Fixing Printers (4 credits)
This is a four-credit class due to the time required to cover the subject matter. To efficiently run a small business, students will need to learn how to configure a printer. Studies have shown that office printers represent the single largest contributing factor toward unproductivity in business. Our team of specially trained professors will teach students how to get a printer recognized on their network and then, 10 minutes later, how to do it again when the network stops recognizing it. Other topics will include troubleshooting paper jams, replacing ink-jet cartridges (well after the printer says it’s “out of ink”), and relaxation techniques for when one’s on the phone with tech support in India. At the end of the semester, remaining students will be rewarded with a visit to the local park where, like the last scene in Office Space, they will be allowed to crush their printers with baseball bats generously provided by the University’s athletic department.
English 447: The Great Business Books (3 credits)
This class will focus on those business books that provide students with insights on the realities of running a small business. The reading list will include The Godfather and A Tale of Two Cities (a romantic look back at the good old days before labor unions and employees’ rights). Of course, the Bible will also be covered because students will likely one day throw up their hands and wonder why in God’s name they chose to be an entrepreneur.
Art 121: Avoiding Taxes (3 credits)
Offered as an elective in years past, this class has proven to be one of the most popular on campus. Those among the 99 percent are welcome to enroll. Here you will learn the creative art of not paying taxes on your business income. The understated beauty of cash transactions. The magnificent splendor of maintaining a second set of books. Other how-to’s include romancing your accountant, hiding personal expenses, and burying your family’s travel and entertainment costs in your company’s books.
Language 872 and 873: Intermediate and Advanced Mandarin (6 credits)
To prepare our business students for the inevitable, this year-long class will teach them how to speak and write in Mandarin. Most importantly, students will learn the translation skills necessary to convert all of our written materials to the Chinese language so that future generations of American business students will be able to understand them.
World Cultures 646: The People of India and the Czech Republic (3 credits)
Like most business owners in a slow economy, our students will be taught how to avoid the excessive costs of hiring full-time employees and instead learn how to outsource their work to low-cost workers in countries such as India and the Czech Republic. To that end, this course will provide a full history and language background for both countries including a discussion of favorite foods, American movies from the 1980s that are just being released over there, and the finer points of cricket.
These are just a few of the business courses our universities should be offering to better prepare our kids for the future. People: This is not an education crisis. It’s an opportunity!