I’m almost done with my first MBA degree and will finish the second MBA shortly after and while I’m not technically finished, I think I’ve completed about 90% of the program to make an informed assessment that I can share with readers.   Before I give you my assessment we’re going to need an analogy here and I’ve decided to select fast food as the analogy.

If you recall the big fiasco over Taco Bell’s beef filler then you’ll have an understanding of where I’m going with this but first some background.    In early 2011, there was a big uproar over what Taco Bell was doing to their tacos which supposedly contained “100% all” beef.   We came to find out that “all beef” seemed to include things like “beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.”

I don’t know about you but I don’t think cows produce most of these fillers naturally therefore they must be added to the blend.   But fret not, Taco Bell tacos do have some nutrition in them as they often come with lettuce, tomatoes and so on.  If you wanted to think about the nutritional value of any junk food you may place the ratio at 20% “good” and 80% “bad” given that the little vegetables and other nutrients are in low quantities usually and the “junk” factor makes up for the other 80% or so.

So now how does this compare to the MBA program?  Well it’s exactly the same thing, I kept trying to figure out why it was taking so long to finish this degree program since many of the classes kept repeating the same material and  content over and over again.  Most MBA courses have an infatuation with Porter’s Value Chain and while it may have been great in 1985 before modern globalization, I think the world and most businesses have moved to a ring-fenced globalized model and  yet nearly every management and marketing class seemed to obsess over Porter’s Value Chain.      Moving on to finance, the courses kept repeating over and over again items related to the inner working of the Federal Reserve, interest rates, and so on.   Don’t get me wrong, there are some good nuggets of information and knowledge here but literally they are “nuggets” and nothing more.    Each MBA course, in my opinion, has 20% “nutritional value” and 80% garbage filler nonsense.

So what does this all mean?  With the cost of college costs soaring because everyone thinks it has value, I fear we’re all chasing fast foodesque education at fine dining prices.       Unfortunately students are asked to support an entire academic ecosystem devoid of real nutrition more interested in paying bloated salaries, pensions for staff, building costs, union workers (e.g. janitors making 80k/yr) and so on.

What should be done?  I don’t know.   The academic system is becoming as broken as the U.S. health care system with crazy subsidies and crazy partnerships whereby students are forced to pay ridiculous prices for textbooks because of deals schools strike with college book cartels.   To give you an example, every professor is now claiming that the “international textbook will not be accepted for this course” with no reason given whatsoever.  It’s very timely since there is a huge lawsuit heading to the supreme court this year regarding the fact that international textbooks which contain 99.9% same content as domestic textbooks but cost 60% less than the US version.   Are professors getting kick backs?  Publishing deals?  Who knows and who cares, where’s the free market in all of this?   It is quite ironic since it’s an MBA curriculum which speaks about the benefits of globalization and lower costs yet it doesn’t seem to apply to the university.

In the long term, just like health care, the college academic system is simply not sustainable and it will come crashing down probably right after the health care system crashes.