Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Higher Education- A Good Investment?

On occasion, I read the Becker-Posner blog, in which Gary Becker and Richard Posner--University of Chicago colleagues who engage in point-counterpoint dialogues on a number of social issues, with Becker arguing the economic principles and Posner providing the social-legal theory.

The recent dialogue regarding the value of and decision to access higher education from social and personal investment perspectives is a good read. Becker argues that the economic evidence for the benefits of college is overwhelming. Posner argues that "correlation is not causation," and argues that education and income and all other measures that correlate positively do so because of native ability levels, and that the educational process actually provides certification and networking benefits, not directly improved prospects.

Those who are technically inclined may agree, as the rate at which technical skill requirements change is far faster than schools can accomodate. I am curious to hear Posner's views on the benefits of a more streamlined vocational/career-technical education system. Perhaps the decision to discontinue college has more to do with the fact that a classic liberal arts degree is not useful to those who drop out, not because they won't take advantage of networks, nor because they don't want the certification that a degree provides, but because they need more specialized technical education instead. I confess, however, that my understanding of such things is somewhat limited. All I do know is that I'd like to learn something about financial modeling without having to apply for an MBA. Or going to the University of Phoenix.

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