Berkshire Hathaway

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By mhirschey
April 17, 2006

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I've spent a lifetime in academia, and would be happy to share some insights about college education.

1. If you've got the talent, go. The correlation is very high between the amount of useful education one accomplishes and income. The data to support this assertion is simply overwhelming. According to a recent government report, working adults ages 25 to 64 earned an average of $34,700 per year. Average earnings ranged from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates, and $99,300 for workers with professional degrees (M.D., J.D., D.D.S., or D.V.M.). Workers with professional degrees (MBAs included) have the highest average earnings.


2.U.S. colleges and university are world-class The Big Ten, Ivies, and University of California system are the class of the world. Add the University of Chicago, Stanford, Duke, USC and a few others, and you've got the list for grad school targets. An MBA is the most enormously successful product ever invented by higher education.

3. Consider a small liberal arts college. Before heading off to graduate or professional school, consider one of the really top-notch liberal arts colleges. Williams, Carleton, Grinnell, Claremont and the rest give undergraduate students all of their attention and resources. I'd recommend an undergraduate institution that does not have a (resource hogging) graduate program.

4. Don't dismiss state schools. If resources are really tight, go to the best local state-supported institution. I was once asked how many students we have at our school. I replied "about half." That's the bad news. The good news is that your local state university has lots of brilliant, hard-working students that you would love to lock horns with in class.

5. Consider a career as a business professor. The most popular undergraduate majors are accounting, economics and psychology. Biology is real popular too. Unfortunately, nobody ever thinks of using the wonderful tools learned in those rigorous undergraduate majors as foundation for a PhD program in business. Do you know the starting salary for a new finance prof? (Hint: Think two shares of Berkshire Hathaway, and we ain't talking Baby Bs.)


PS: If you or someone you love is interested in #5, contact me and I'll be happy to provide some useful information.

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