During my entrepreneurial career, MBA’s have been unpopular with most of the other small business owner-operators I know.

Seth Godin kicked things off with a rant on the problems of business schools back in 2007 and launched his own altMBA a few years later. Josh Kauffman picked the idea up and wrote a book, The Personal MBA (which I rather like).

Tim Ferris penned an essay about using the cost of business school to design his own version of an MBA in, Tools for Titans ($120k focused on angel investing.)

“The MBA’s value is only in the network you develop or the clout of the school,” is a common refrain.

Because of this perspective, I never thought much of business school. “Learning by doing” was where I believed real value to be.

Though I still believe in the value of experiential learning, as time has passed I’ve come to question this common judgment of formal education as frivolous.

One of the problems with the idea of formal education as worthless is that your education will instead track the trends of what’s popular now; what you hear other entrepreneurs discussing and recommending. New ideas are great, but if that is all you learn, you miss the lessons of the past.

Another problem with experiential education is that what you’re exposed to is random and often tied to your interests. This is how you can be in business for ten years and not know how to read an income statement or create a financial forecast (true for my first ten years.)

One of the benefits of formal education is that an expert curates a curriculum that both introduces you to the best ideas, new and old, and also ensures that you’re well-rounded in the subject matter.

Education is important because the quality of your decisions derives from your knowledge. In many ways, the growth of your business pivots on being able to apply the right knowledge to make better decisions.

For myself, I don’t plan on hopping into a MBA program anytime soon. I suspect that I’m far enough along that the opportunity cost would be too high. But I am considering how to integrate the benefits of formal education with the base of experiential knowledge I’ve developed. It will probably be a hybrid of executive education programs and personal challenges similar to Tim Ferris’s approach.

What about you? Do you hope to get smarter as time passes or are you more intentional in developing yourself?