Sunday, September 5, 2010

Getting the Most Out of University Education

Yesterday at the Chicago Boyz blog David Foster keyed off my post on the behavioral consequences of the higher education bubble. He counts among those who have been following the story, and I recommend his post highly.  Link here.

Foster also runs a blog called Photon Courier, and as I was reading some of his other posts on the higher education bubble, I came across one by Walter Russell Mead. Link here.

Mead offers some excellent advice for college students. It is especially important given the "unusual uncertainty" of the future they are facing.

As Foster remarks, the advice is applicable to everyone. It is well worth a read.

Also, this morning the New York Times published some advice for new college students from Gregory Mankiw, distinguished Harvard economist and former Chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Link here.

Mankiw addressed a topic that Mead also emphasized: course selection. Mankiw emphasizes courses in economics, statistics, finance, and cognitive psychology.

I doubt that he would disagree with Mead's emphasis on something that is closer to a classical liberal arts education, but he would certainly agree that students who take courses in gender studies, ethnic studies, postmodernism, and critical theory will simply not be equipped to compete and succeed in the new reality that they will soon be facing.

I do believe that Mankiw would agree with Mead that it is more important to choose the right courses than to attend the right school. As I and many others have noted, a student can gain an excellent education at an excellent school without running up a mountain of debt.

It is valuable to understand which courses will prepare you for the new world and which ones will leave you at a loss.

Given the cost of higher education, making the best possible use of one's time at school has become a moral imperative.

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