BTS story
RM listens as Jungkook of the South Korean boy band BTS speaks at the SDG Moment event as part of the UN General Assembly 76th session General Debate in UN General Assembly Hall at the United Nations Headquarters on Monday, September 20, 2021 in New York City. Source: John Angelillo-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

The BTS story in 2021 goes something like this: Giving a speech at the UN, maintaining reign as one of the world’s most popular bands, becoming the first in your country to win a Billboard Music Award and winning a string of (many) awards and nominations.

Talent, good looks, and a country investing billions into the arts helped write this tale of success — but you can’t discount smarts.

BTS’s position as the reigning K-pop band in the world today has to be seen in the context of the intense competition to break into this crowded scene. In K-pop, many sing well, most can dance and almost all are good-looking.

BTS has more. Critics may attribute the successful BTS story to “a miracle,” but there is something to be said about how each member put in the time and effort to captivate and conquer the world.

Although their company may make most business decisions, it is down to each individual member to execute them. An idol’s schedule is nothing short of gruelling — anyone who has seen or heard the BTS story will know that they have endless appearances on shows (radio, music, and variety, just to name a few), rehearsing for concerts, music recordings, performing and other promotional work.

A university degree can provide the soft skills to handle this insane workload. Soft skills, as opposed to technical expertise, refer to all other competencies to get a job done. This includes problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptability, communication, how to handle criticism, not taking things personally, getting along with people, teamwork and the willingness to learn new things.

A 2018 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that the three attributes employers valued most were written communication, problem-solving and the ability to work in a team.

A university degree builds on these capacities — which could explain why six out of seven BTS members invested in a university education. They earned diplomas from Global Cyber University, majoring in Entertainment & Media. Jin did not attend GCU, but Konkuk University. (Both GCU and Konkuk offer programmes for international students.)

By July 2020, six BTS members have enrolled at Hanyang Cyber University for an MBA programme in advertising and media. “The members’ enrollment in graduate school is not a matter related to their military service, and they entered the university because they are all interested in learning,” Big Hit Entertainment clarified.

Dedication, a love for learning, compassion for the world — we can find no better role models for Gen Z.