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Should you get a Ph.D.?


2013-04-16 08:02 PM

On On Leaving Academia

Several people in my influencesphere have linked to this essay by a CS prof who's leaving academia to join Google in order to "make a positive difference in the world." I am, of course, wholly supportive of such a program, if not of his precise rationale, which is a ...

2012-07-24 08:51 PM

Hyphen Class Post-Mortem

Last fall I signed up for two of the hyphen classes: the Machine Learning ml-class (Ng) and the Artificial Intelligence ai-class (Thrun and Norvig). Both were presented by Stanford professors but one of the conditions of taking the courses was that whenever I discuss them I am required to present ...

2012-02-01 03:03 PM

Doubling the Compost Box

If you are on Facebook you have probably seen the articles about the unnamed school board member who couldn't do any of the math problems on the math standardized test (and who couldn't pass the reading section). Most of the discussion drew the conclusion that the tests were ...

2011-12-07 09:13 PM

Machine Learning Beverage

Although my formal training is in subjects like math and economics and animal husbandry, most of the money-work I do is in subjects like data science and fareology and writing over-the-top religious polemics. This is one of the reasons why I'm so sour on the value of college, as ...

2011-09-29 09:40 PM

College Savings Plans are the Modern Dowry

Because baby Madeline is half-Indian and half-regular-person, she has both Indian friends and regular-person friends. The parents of her Indian friends worry about dowries, which are expensive gifts that they have to hand over when their daughters marry, and that they have to save for until then. The parents of ...

2011-08-07 08:11 PM

On the Education of Joelene, Part I: Introduction

Although little Joelene is expected to arrive in about 10 days (which means that she could show up today if she really felt like it), I toyed with fate and flew down to Long Beach last weekend to attend the BIL conference, which is (in some sense) the open-source equivalent ...

2011-03-10 09:24 AM

Correlation and Causation

Another day, another plan to spend more money on education:

President Obama said on the "Today" show Monday morning that American students attend school a month less than kids in other countries -- contending that the school-year gap puts them at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. "The idea of ...

2010-09-27 09:24 AM

Will Someone Please Invent the Virtual Locker Room

Bill Gates, always a man with big ideas, suspects that the internet is going to shake up our educational system:

“Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe ...

2010-08-09 09:02 AM

The Cornerstone of Democracy

Most towns have some sort of "school board," which is tasked with deciding which subjects need to have Biblically-influenced syllabi, taking kickbacks from textbook publishers, and not firing incompetent and/or criminally negligent teachers.

They run for election every few years, filling our medians with campaign signs festooned with grade-school-evocative ...

2010-08-07 07:36 AM

Tough Times for Generation Y

Another day, another sob story in the New York Times. Today's involves Scott Nicholson, who -- like so many in his "lost generation" -- had his expensive political science degree completely paid for by his grandparents, turned down a \$40k/year job because it was less than his brother makes, and ...

2010-07-07 08:28 AM

The Modern Panoptic University

I've attended two schools with honor codes. At Rice, where I was an undergrad, we used to pledge in writing not to cheat on exams, all the while taking an in-retrospect-bizarre pride that the "honor code" (and by extension "honor") applied only to schoolwork and not to (for example ...

2010-07-06 03:37 PM

On the value of a college degree

I believe this is what they call "throwing good money after bad":

She's making so little money with a college degree, she's considering returning to school for her master's.

And don't even get me started on how a BusinessWeek writer has absolutely no clue what ROI ...

2010-06-29 02:44 PM

In Which Joel Gives Advice to the New York Times

If you're going to write a detailed column about a young college graduate who borrowed \$100K to attend NYU and can't pay it back, you probably shouldn't wait until the 30th (!) paragraph to let us know what sort of useful degree she got for her money:

She ...

2010-05-28 04:57 PM

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