Saturday, 14 March 2015


At some point in time when I was a little younger and a little wider I had to make a decision. Did I choose to do a straight BA? That is, double majors in History and in Economics. Did I choose to do a BA/BSc? That is, a double major in Economics & History in the BA and a major in Maths in the BSc? Or, instead, did I choose to do a BA/BCom? That is, Maths & History (BA) and then Economics (BCom). I chose that last option, but why? Certainly, it's caused me no end of regret (and, in fact, precluded me from eligibility for a scholarship I'd have followed through with applying for). Thus we reach the title, what was my rationale?

The Business School at Auckland Uni would like to tell you that it's trying to build a bridge to a better world. Some first year student I met would tell you that the BCom is basically a joke, assuming you met him before he buggered off overseas to continue studying. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Let's slice the pizza and begin to eat (see, Stats 201 lecturer, I learn stuff).

Business School

In some sense, the Business School is nothing more than a glorified training programme. Economics isn't like that but that's because economics isn't like any of its other disciplines... or maybe it's because my lecturers seem a bit more maverick (perhaps once I get to stage two eco things will look different). But, Business, Infosys, Accounting and Marketing are like this. They make a core assumption: you are here purely to get a job. In all honesty, that's probably true for a great many of their students (and probably every single person who considers doing accounting and/or finance) and, again to be fair, it's something that's important in the context of a system that forces universities to charge international students an arm and a leg as a funding model (can't get the international students if your graduates continually fail to get jobs). It also doesn't help that this is the Business School we're talking about. But, ultimately, the contrast between how my Stats 20x lecturer talks about employment (this is, we used this concept when we did this thing) and the way these lecturers do (when you're applying to firms). I didn't go to uni to be lectured at. I went to uni to attend lectures. I'm not sure if the Business School has noticed, but this is not the same thing. #neverworkedanhonestdayinhislife #lazy

Random First Year

Is the BCom a joke? I don't think so. In fact, the way this dude was talking just screamed both privileged (in the sense that going overseas to study is not the sign of someone from the typical NZ background) and snobbish (in the sense that NZ is not place to study). What I think this dude was doing was confusing the relative absence of the BCom overseas (it's far from being universally offered) with its being worthless. In fact, he may well have been transferring the reputation of the MBA to the BCom. The BCom, to my mind, is the thing one does when one wants to be a professional (hence why there is grounds for the assumption). In some ways, it's either like an LLB (i.e. with respect to accountants) or how to move resources around (i.e. most to all of the other majors) or studying how people move these resources around (i.e. economics). But the BCom lacks the competitive entry nature of the LLB, which lends cred (despite the reputation of lawyers) and studying how people do things tends get a bad rep (i.e. why BA is understood as Bugger All). And then you've got the BSc (fundamentally, I ask, what is the difference between trying to understand one aspect of the world and another?) and engineering (i.e. building stuff), plus all the rest which people tend not to talk about.


I am uninterested in accounting. From what I have grasped of finance it seems a little more interesting but it's not really my thing. Elements of marketing and management are interesting. You know what those elements are? How people behave, are categorised and how people think? Motivation and Ethics were probably the Business 101 & 102 units that I found the most interesting. At any rate, this people thing should probably clue you in to where I am interested when I say I do history and economics. So, why do a BCom with a rigid programme of core courses that have to be taken? What could possibly be the point? Well, right now, in some sense, it's because I've already started and when you've borrowed everything pulling out to borrow some more to finish the same thing is stupid. If ditching altogether was an option, not pulling out is the stupid option (see sunk cost fallacy). And that, that right there is why I opted to for the BCom (at least, in part). Not the sunk cost fallacy per se but how I learnt about that, i.e. Infosys 110 (one of the few things I remember). In fact, Infosys 110 was probably one of the better core courses, in hindsight. Deadly boring at first but it has exposed me to some broader ideas to complete the picture. Except, mostly no. I barely remember it, some of the things were interesting (e.g. data versus information) but everything that was more operational or specific wasn't (such as Business Process Modelling).

What I am trying to say, because even with my head a little unclear I can tell I'm rambling, is that I took the BCom because of the core courses that weren't particularly appealing. My younger, wiser self realised that it would be useful, at some point, to have done these things, to have been exposed to these things. Take Accounting. Hopefully we'll get past doing things which are just different ways of thinking about some of the calculations you do in year eleven economics (it's week two) and move into understanding the reports. Because, you know, they're right when they say that the accounting reports aren't just for accountants.

Oh, it's worth mentioning that a number of friends were intending on pursuing BComs helped.

No comments:

Post a Comment