By Kalen Smith

"higher education"Our society has focused on the value of higher education as a pillar to success. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a college degree to learn about business. College can teach you a lot about being successful in life and making something out of yourself. However, in the world of business a degree is neither a prerequisite nor a guarantee of success. Many entrepreneurs have pursued business degrees without stopping to consider what they are really going to get out of it.

One of the challenges that I faced as an online entrepreneur has been that the theories of business school didn’t live up to the real world model of business. Most of our teachers were academics. They were out of touch with real ways that business worked. It had been years since they had worked in the field themselves, if they ever did at all. You can imagine how little help some of these professors actually were.

Another major problem with business school is that it is focused on preparing students for the corporate life after they graduate. Working in a corporate setting and starting your own business are two completely different things. Some business schools try to address the topic of entrepreneurship in detail, while others do not.

Many people feel that going to business school is the most sensible path for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, sometimes a more specialized degree may be the best route for an entrepreneur. The founder of my Medifast coupon and Nutrisystem discount site was a former scientist. Sometimes people in the science and engineering fields are better suited to run a business than an MBA. Specialized skills can be what really differentiates successful entrepreneurs from mediocre businesspeople.

This isn’t to say that business school is a complete waste of time. Some of the skills that you pick up in business school can be very valuable. You may have a hard time separating the useless skills you learn from the valuable knowledge that you come across along the way. The best way to see what is helpful is to analyze which theories are supported by real world case studies. This will at least give you a benchmark of what has or has not worked in the past.

Business school is also a great place for networking. You may not find that every person you go to business school with wants to start their own business, but they can still be helpful to your bottom line. I wouldn’t recommend going to business school for the sole purpose of networking, but it is certainly an advantage to connect with people in business school like that.

Attending business school is not essential to succeeding in business. You are going to find that many MBAs make terrible entrepreneurs. Of course, many dropouts became very successful running their own companies. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are probably the most classic examples. Before you spend $50,000 and two years of your life pursuing an MBA, make sure you know what you are going to get out of it.

Kalen Smith is a seasoned entrepreneurial blogger and consultant.  He also is a passionate diet blogger who writes about the coupon offers for Medifast and coupons and promotions for Nutrisystem.