Debating Student Debt

Three further thoughts on the Free Exchange debate on the effects of student debt:

  • Some people seem to think that who paid for a degree would affect the motivations of a student to work hard.

    Would who paid for your car affect your motivations to drive it? Would a car that was a gift from a rich father be driven with less enthusiasm? Probably not.

    In fact those who believe that such behaviour is determined by economic rationality need to ponder this: If there are benefits to working hard and getting a better degree, why wouldn’t a rational student seize those benefits regardless of who paid for the opportunity to study?

  • Some years ago I did a full-time MBA at one of the top UK schools. All of us on the course had paid large fees, and sacrificed even more in foregone salary. A substantial investment by anyone’s standards.

    Did we all therefore work as hard as possible to make the most of the opportunity?

    My experience was that people behaved very much in line with their personalities. Some people burned the midnight oil and read every book cover to cover. Other people often skipped lectures and slept in. Many people left their assignments to the last minute, and did a rush job that didn’t do them justice.

  • The discussions here remind me of a quote from Einstein.

    “Common sense is just another name for the prejudices we acquired by the age of 18.”

    People seem to be here to spout their received wisdom, without any real thinking or exchange of ideas.

    Which like the behaviour of the MBA students I described above is utterly, familiarly, human, and far from rational.

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