Do business schools really prepare students for the challenges they will face after graduation? This is a polemic topic, and I am inclined to think that most academic institutions could do a much better job than they are currently doing.
David Maister has a good article over his blog titled “Improving Mutual Understanding Between Business Schools and Business”. Throughout the article there are several points highlighting how one could improve such relationship, and I did find particularly suitable point seven which says: “Focus more on designing educational experiences (not content) that help students develop skills through guided practice (how to function in teams, etc.)”.
Most business schools concentrate on developing knowledge (i.e. Accounting knowledge, marketing knowledge, economic knowledge, etc.). Transferring such knowledge to students has its value, but universities should go beyond it. I think that more important than the knowledge itself is the development of competencies and attitudes.
Knowing how to write a balance sheet or how to interpret macroeconomic data is necessary but not sufficient, it will not represent a competitive advantage for a professional. What will, instead, are the competencies (i.e. being able to communicate clearly) and the attitudes (i.e. being proactive when dealing with problems).
Check out my article “Why should you go to the university?” for more ideas on the topic.