Bad Numbers: Why Do U.S. Students Study All The Wrong Stuff?

The worst fact of the week? That the biggest undergraduate major by far in the U.S. today is business. Twenty-two percent of B.A.s are awarded in business, compared with a paltry eight percent in education, five percent in health professions, less than four percent in English and a tragic two percent in history. No wonder, as a nation, we're stupid, sick, inarticulate and prone to repeating bad mistakes.

Twenty-two percent of B.A.s in business should panic the business community. When I was running companies, I didn't want kids with B.A.s in business. I wanted kids who could speak, write, think about the world, who even had some sense of context. They were like gold dust. My best employees were invariably Russian, Chinese, Indian, gay, Jewish, female. Being outsiders, they'd had to struggle and struggling, they'd learned about the world.

I wanted -- and still want -- people who pay attention, reflect, and can handle complexity. But almost everything about current career structures militates against this. Do business in college, get a job in sales, specialize in high tech, then super-specialize in telecoms. Before you know where you are -- you know almost nothing. Making people narrower and narrower as the world gets more and more complex is a terrible way to build the smart workforce we're supposed to need for an innovative economy.

And let's face it: the teaching of business to undergraduates is not exactly the acme of academic achievement. What I've seen -- from employing interns and from employing business graduates -- is that they're mostly learning outdated, macho rubbish that replaces creativity and commonsense with doctrinaire, slick mumbo jumbo. And they're usually learning it from people who couldn't run so much as a lemonade stand. What's even more obscene about that 22 percent is that these kids are paying for this. They'd do better to take a year out, get a job, and learn from that. They'd end up wiser and richer.

American education is the most expensive in the world. If you're paying over $100,000 for a B.A. in business, all that tells me is that you have no business sense at all.