School’s back in session. Here’s my advice to the young. Based on my academic and professional experiences—both my own and from observing others—here’s what I would tell a young adult headed off to college who’s giving consideration as to what to study: Don’t focus on business as an undergraduate.
Rather, I would direct a bright and aspiring youngster toward a liberal arts education. Figure out who the best professors are and load up on those classes in your given university—it really doesn’t matter the material or subject. Enjoy the work, and learn how to read, write, present, and think. Those skills will prepare you for professional and life success, and they will make you more engaging.
The reality is, I meet with far too many recent graduates with finance majors who stare back blankly when asked to explain why bond prices and interest rates have an inverse relationship. To them, it’s just a fact that they learned. Interestingly, I routinely meet with sharp liberal arts majors who can reason their way through the correct answer during our time together. And in the end, if you’re sharp and function highly, the actual finance, accounting, and marketing is all easily learned as you go.
So, for my money, I’ll be banning our kids from the business schools until they’re 25; they’ll do better in business as a result.
Jon Altschuler is a partner at Altschuler and Co. Contact him at email@example.com.