Daniel Lemire's blog

, 3 min read

Where do presidents and prime ministers go to school?

3 thoughts on “Where do presidents and prime ministers go to school?”

  1. John says:

    Given the anti-intellectual bent of many Americans, it’s a good idea down-play your education if you’re a politician. That may limit the value of an ivy league education in politics. Maybe an ivy league education is more valuable in the private sector.

  2. (In Canada, where I live, tuitions are pretty flat and getting into a “good” school is not difficult. There are very few bad colleges in Canada, and the difference between the very best and the average ones is tiny.)

    @John The problem I have with most studies stating that a nicer education lead to, say, a better income, is that they do not have a control set.

    What you really need to do is compare an individual X with or without a degree.

    Obviously, Harvard graduates earn more than the average public, but the students entering Harvard are not representative of the average public.

    Routinely, it is found that state universities do more for their students, because they take students who would not have attended university and give them a degree and good earnings.

    Otherwise, it is quite easy to take the crème de la crème and give them a degree and good earnings. These people are often quite bright before they even enter college. They are bound to do well, no matter what the school does.

    In any case, predicting who will do well is extremely difficult. So, to identify how much Havard is worth is very difficult. Almost certainly, it is not worth the tuitions being paid. But thankfully, people paying the tuitions do not care. See, if you are joining a country club, you want it to be expensive! That is the whole point!

    Disclaimer: I am a professor in a state university in Canada.

  3. John says:

    You’re absolutely right. The kind of person with the confidence and financial resources to apply to Harvard is likely to do well even if they don’t attend. Seth Godin ran with this idea and made a tongue-in-cheek proposal to start a very exclusive business school that would give you your degree immediately on admission.

    I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. It overlaps a great deal with our discussion here.