The value of a college education

Here’s an interesting excerpt from a highly recommended EconTalk podcast with Alex Tabarrok on Alex’s book, Launching the Innovation Renaissance.

Russ Roberts (after 42 minutes into the podcast, emphasis added):  Bryan Caplan, on our sister site EconLog often writes that there’s very little value-added at all to education: it’s all signaling; I don’t care what you majored in so long as you got through, you showed the persistence; the only thing I’m paying for is either you got into the school, which is a filter for quality, and then you got out, because that meant you could do that weird thing called sit at the desk and write papers and take the tests, and that’s got some value. Persistence and discipline.

This made me think that perhaps those who complete a college education have demonstrated that they have just enough initiative to play by the rules, do what they’re told to do and follow a predefined path — which makes for a good employee — but not quite enough initiative to make their own path.

3 thoughts on “The value of a college education

  1. The world is full of many rules and predefined social structures, like government, the job market, and the educational system, among many other things. I think it might be a bit broad of a statement to say that all college graduates do not have enough initiative to pave their own path. I’m curious as to what you think about entrepreneurs? I agree that if you can make it through college, you do display the ability to follow the rules and do what is necessary to progress to a particular goal. This is exactly what employers seek in employees, the ability to follow directions. Many don’t care what your major was, aside from highly specialized vocations (engineering, computer science, health sciences, etc.). All they want if someone who will be a good fit with their company and the goals that need to be accomplished.

    Thank you for your post!

    • Thanks for your comment.

      It may be a broad statement, but the last half of your comment seems to support that broad statement.

      As for entrepreneurs, I’d say that they are more likely to define their own path, and it’s usually a lonely one. And we should thank them, nearly every company that provides jobs for those college grads was started by one.

  2. Pingback: Do you need another can of green beans in your pantry? | Our Dinner Table


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