Forbes Vietnam published an article by me with the above title in its February 2017 (#45) issue. An expanded English version, which focuses more on the value and advantages of a liberal arts education and includes more examples, will be published this spring. Here’s a brief introduction:
Viet Nam currently ranks 6th among all countries sending students to the United States – with over 30,000 at all levels, mostly in higher education. According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, 29.3% of all Vietnamese undergraduates in the US were studying business/management. This was the second highest percentage of any sending country – after Indonesia. (The popularity of business is not limited to these two countries. Almost one in five bachelor’s degrees earned in the US is in business, per the US Department of Education.)
Why are so many young Vietnamese studying business in the US, among other countries? Because parents – as the key decision-makers – have bought into the seemingly logical notion that their children have to major in business in order to work in the private sector. In other words, they believe that their sons and daughters have to study business in order to do business. This is in part because most Vietnamese are not yet familiar with the concept of a liberal arts education and its many benefits, both intrinsic and tangible.
Viet Nam has consistently ranked #1 in recent years in the percentage of its students who choose business/management as an undergraduate major. (It was displaced in the 2015/16 academic year by Indonesia. Still, nearly a third of all Vietnamese undergraduates are studying business.) Meanwhile, there are many young Vietnamese who were liberal arts majors, and are now pursuing successful careers in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors in Viet Nam and elsewhere.