On Experiential Learning

Last week I wrote Greg Mankiw and Tyler Cowen, two professors and economics bloggers. I wrote the following:

My name is Kevin Burke and I’m a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, about to start Econ 001. I know it’s important to get an academic background in economics, but I think some of the best learning I’ve done in most fields has come outside of the classroom. I was wondering if you could tell me about some of the key moments in your intellectual development as an economist, and where these moments took place. My goal here is to figure out how I can supplement my Econ education with real-world schooling. Thanks for reading this.

Because honestly, how often do you learn something because someone just tells it to you? Most people need to see examples, or get out and learn something for themselves (as in, don’t touch the stove while it’s on, don’t touch the stove while it’s on, okay, you touched the stove, and you got burned). I got responses in the form of two excellent blog posts. It was really cool to have them write back, and they wrote really useful advice. If you’re considering economics, I would recommend you take a look at their lists.

I was going to take a year off before school to get some practical experience in the field, and then I got accepted off the waitlist at Penn. I might still end up taking a year off sometime. Life, as some people need reminding, is not a race. And there’s no proof that a college education is the best education I can get at this point in my life. There may be more enjoyable (and cheaper) exploits elsewhere.

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