Posts Tagged ‘Carleton College’

Witty Robin Hanson Blog

April 15, 2008

Hanson writes that people ask for advice on relatively unimportant decisions, but not on big decisions:

For example, we like HowTo books, but not WhatTo books. How to manage your computer, not what machine to manage. How to please your partner, not what partner to please. How to fix your house, not where to live. How to drive fast, not what speed to drive. How to get promoted, not what job to work at. How to raise your kids, not how many kids to raise. And so on.

Well put, but I disagree with his main point. I remember getting a mountain of “big decision” advice books upon graduating from high school. The Career Center at Carleton College also had a room filled with them.

The Value of a Harvard Education

April 5, 2008

The author of this New York Times editorial is making fun of Harvard dynasties and the increasingly tiny chance anyone has of getting in, but it got me thinking about something else.  The editorial is a mock acceptance/rejection letter for kids from Harvard families who couldn’t make the GPA cut.  The letter states that although the kids won’t get a Harvard education,  they will be allowed to live on campus for four years and get Harvard “diploma-like” documents at the end.

If the diplomas were real, I would have been very tempted by this deal when I was applying for colleges eight (!) years ago.  Maybe a Harvard education is better than, say, the education I received at Carleton College, but I bet the difference is marginal.  The bulk of the difference reflected in price and selection stems more from the prestige one gets from the Harvard name, and the boost having gone to Harvard will give one in future endeavors.  Both of these factors are on offer in the Times proposed program.

To put it another way, the marginal benefit one gets from a Harvard education as opposed to another school’s education is worth maybe $1000 a year.  The benefit one gets from collectively recalling your Boston years with your law firm colleagues at a SoHo loft party?  Priceless.