David R. Henderson

Marty Nemko: Don't Go to College

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The Daily Show had a nice segment this week on the case for not going to college.

The whole thing is quite good. Check out what the guy at the 2:40 point learned. The late Ayn Rand's term for his thinking is "concrete bound."

The one item on which I part company, not with Nemko but with the interviewer, is his advice to "learn Chinese." Of course, he was probably joking but many people who say that are not joking. When you tote up the number of hours it would take to learn Chinese, opportunity cost rears its ugly head. During that same amount of time, I would bet you could learn a huge about how to use a computer better and how to become rich, and you would still have time left over.

HT to Jeff Hummel.


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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Steve Sailer writes:

As I get older and more experienced, I'm coming around to the view that rich and powerful people tend to know what's in their offsprings' interests better than my random intuitions, so I pay a lot of attention to what rich and powerful people do (not what they say, but what they do).

And the vast majority of them send their kids to college.

Marc writes:

Speaking as an American who graduated from Chinese university, has spent 16 years of my adult life in China, and speaks and writes fluent Chinese, Americans overrate the advantages to knowing Chinese. Learn Chinese if its directly related to ones career, or if it is just an interest that one enjoys. If one is learning Chinese because one expects that it will enhance career opportunities and monetary rewards during future employment, from my experience, that is not a realistic expectation. US companies value language skills very little, and Chinese coworkers value the opportunity to practice their English.
So..."Knowing Chinese is a valuable skill" is a good theory but when I look at my experience, and at other Americans either doing business or stationed here, I don't see proof to back that up.

Brad Warbiany writes:

Steve,

There is one point there, though... The vast majority of rich and powerful people can send their kids to college without saddling their kids with $100-200K in debt. It clearly changes the cost-benefit analysis of college.

Paul writes:

I learn Chinese as it happens. It's mostly a hobby but when I started my girlfriend was Chinese, which was sort of the reason. I already have a PhD in computer science. I've been CEO of a couple of companies. OK, I'm not insanely rich.

The writing is obviously a problem with Chinese. But because you can't make small changes to a word like you can in alphabetic languages, lots of things are actually much simpler. There are no tenses, no declination of verbs, no irregular verbs, no genders, no plurals even (mostly, 'I' and 'we' are different etc).

Chinese is also a bit like that party game where you aren't allowed to use the words 'yes' and 'no' since there aren't any. "Drink coffee ma?" The 'ma' makes it into a yes/no question despite there being no such words. So the answers are either 'drink' or 'not drink'.

OK, it's a weird hobby, I admit.

Himanshu Sanguri writes:

Dear Paul, I like one term you jotted down in your comment "Insane Rich". Can you please throw some light what you mean by that. I am still pondering...

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