Of Higher Education and Cushy Lives (Guest Post)

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Ann Coulter, one of my favorite all-time conservatives (and easy on the eyes as well), wrote a very interesting article on January 28th. As usual, its excellent. She discusses the high cost of higher education and why university presidents should be hauled before Congress to explain/justify “their cushy lives”, and how the GOP could benefit.

But there’s one statement that she made with which I must disagree. But I don’t really “disagree” with her. I just think she stopped short.

While discussing how a college degree can be a substitute for an IQ test, she makes this statement: “Other than engineers, economists and quarterbacks, no one acquires any marketable knowledge at college.”

With the engineers I agree. At least I hope so every time I drive over a bridge or fly. And with the quarterbacks I agree, although other positions and sports (basketball comes to mind) participants learn and hone valuable skills as well.

But why economists? While they certainly learned some useful skills, we in the B-school used to disparage them by saying, “All the economists in the world, stacked end to end, couldn’t reach a conclusion.”

So let’s examine Coulter’s statement in terms of the College of Business. Accounting majors learn useful skills. The ultimate skill is Auditing. The highest IQ in the world cannot replicate that skill. And there’s Marketing. Those majors learn how to overcome cognitive dissonance and separate us from our money. And they make the Super Bowl half-time entertaining as well. Then there’s the two branches of Management – personnel and quantitative. The personnel majors learn techniques of motivation that go beyond money. Imagine how chaotic life would be if people you looked to for service were not motivated. And the quantitative types. They learned, among other things, how to use a computer spreadsheet to implement the statistics they learned so they could make good business decisions.

What about other majors? I agree with Coulter. Her article title: “HOW MUCH IS THAT PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE WORTH?” says it all. And that goes for Women and Black Studies and Biology and Languages (ancient or modern) and Art and ANY degree in Education as well. The world is full of people with those degrees. Why go into debt to be yet another unemployed (or underemployed) person in this world. No marketable (key concept) skill is learned in any of those majors. An IQ test would do just as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a professor of Business Statistics and Management Information Systems. I like to think that my students got their money’s worth, that they learned some marketable skills that an IQ test could not replicate. And, yes, it was (I’m retired now) a cushy life. But big money always eluded me.

Cross-posted at The Pot Stirrer, my personal, very conservative web site.

5 Responses to “Of Higher Education and Cushy Lives (Guest Post)”

  1. 1

    Pete

    I think the most pertinent point to the article was the allusion/comparison of the rate of increase in the cost of a 4 year college degree with the rate of rise in medical costs. I would LOVE to see academicians from the various schools of the humanities defend such a comparison.

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