MOOCs, MBAs, and existential pessimism


“We’re all entrepreneurs now. School yourselves accordingly.”
-People who already figured it out for themselves

Lack of self-actualization is our own fault. Oh, thanks. Right? Except that it is. But the mere observation of the fact—and many of the suggestions that follow, for that matter—don’t help matters.

On that festive note, consider the following: LinkedIn published this, which puts the hard sell on MOOCs, here advocated in the context of the MBA curriculum as shared with the world from Elite Universities. (Are there any other kinds of schools on MOOCs?) Complete the MOOC; it’s as good (for employment, of course) as being there!

The author certainly sells it well, and I am fully aware of the benefits of MOOC rollout. In fact, part of my disquiet at this article is the fact that MOOCs stand to benefit seekers of interdisciplinary knowledge and obscure subjects far more on the margin than those pursuing more common curricula.

Speaking of benefits, that LinkedIn benefits from increased MOOC adoption is pretty obvious. It makes one more information stream to arbitrage to advertisers, this one from an especially desperate motivated cohort of job seekers likely to spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and its partner sites. This isn’t wrong per se, but those of us making consumer decisions do well to consider motives and externalities besides the ones being presented to us.

Of course, then there’s everyone else. I saw one prescient comment to the effect that MOOCs are very likely to disrupt lower-tier MBA programs, but not those of high regional or national profile. That’s pretty accurate. Anthropological and epistemological criticisms never seem to disrupt the desirability of the model in which individuals invest the requisite capital and time requirements into full-time residential MBA programs and are returned the ever-elusive benefit of “networking” (don’t look at me, I just blog here).

My recommendations stem from my own self-assessment. In my case, I am too overconfident self-sabotaging weird idealistic to submit to the MBA regime, because I aim to end up in a dead end that no one appreciates but me sublimate the pursuit of management earnings and put my academic pursuits into something with more depth in hopes of Being There and Creating Something. I’ve heard too many classmates say “I didn’t learn anything” at HBS or Haas or Booth or wherever else to give one of those places the time and treasure for what is actually an anthropic gamble on my “unique” story and personality.

Personally, I think it makes more sense for someone like me to study the esoterica that are in my heart and hedge with the M(OOC)BA so that when it’s all said and done, I’m only unemployed as opposed to unemployed and out a lot of money and social energy to boot after muddling through a “real” MBA I’m betting on my own passion and depth instead of appeals to tradition to put me in a good position. There’s just one problem: when the afterglow from all that Doing It My Way wears off, I’ve made myself quite a bit more, lonelier and less defined, work than The Alternative—if, that is, I want to do it for real and not just play at it. (What is “it” and “for real”? Um…SQUIRREL!)

But it’s always that way. Anyone reading this and considering their own choices should take stock of their own gifts and aims.


This is an essential part of my plan, but it’s optional for you (and it’s my blog, so there).


One thought on “MOOCs, MBAs, and existential pessimism

  1. Pingback: Curiosity Is Not Allowed Here. | SoshiTech

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