In my senior year of high school I'm developing a rather serious issue. I don't know if it's going to be in my best interest anymore to go to college at all. When I was a Freshman and a Sophmore, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I was a socialist extremist and didn't see the value in grades-only learning- and so I never tried. I realized then that it was a mistake, as most people need college to get any kind of career in the capitalist world we live in. I don't know if I'm one of those people though. Since I've found Austrian Economics, I've gone through radical changes. Not only do I read agressively now, but I do research entirely on my own time. I'm taking an AP Economics course and I already feel out of my place when my teacher uses non-provable poor logic and particularly when they reference "utils." I'm starting to have issues now just bringing myself to school every day. Wouldn't it be in my best interest to dedicate those 7 hours to my own independant studies? The only reason I would work on high school academics instead at this point is with the intent of getting into college. However I have to wonder, where in the nation I will get an education fast-paced and specialized enough? I thought for a while about going to Auburn, or a University with a noted Austrian economic professor, but to be honest, I'm starting to wonder if it might be in my best interest to begin my own studies now, slip by in highschool, just enough to graduate, and then live minimalistically for the next few years while I collect my research so that I can attempt to get writing published. Honestly, I don't have any idea where Murray Rotbhard, or Ludwig von Mises, or Carl Menger, or any economist I've read went to college (except for Walter Block who I know went to college somewhere in New York, because I read something about him meeting Ayn Rand while in college).
I honestly don't know what I should do at this point, and am looking for serious recomendations and evaluations. Time is clearly the primary issue here, so I can't explain how much I will appreciate any speedy responses. Feel free to request any further details. I'd share anything that will help a consesus be formed.
My first advice would be: Don't worry too much that you don't know exactly where you want to be or how you want to get there, and don't worry too much about time. Questioning where you are and where you want to go is a healthy exercise that should be done throughout life, not just at this turning point.
It looks like you've gone through a pretty big shift in thinking in the past few years, from a big-time commie socialist to a true believer in liberty. Keep up your studies and let your learning draw you toward something, rather than concerning yourself too much with pointing in a direction and heading there. Keep up with school and get started with college, but remember you can always change programs, transfer schools, etc. Theses decisions are not permanently binding.
Study in school and in college to learn, not to "get something" as is the conventional wisdom. So many people run like race horses, get through high school, choose a college, work hard on studies, get a degree, get a job...and then quit learning.
The aspiration toward freedom is the most essentially human of all human
manifestations. -Eric Hoffer
How old are you? You seem pretty mature for someone in high school. Anyway, that said, do not study just for the sake of getting a job. If that is your intention, rather devote time to studying privately and begin training now already for a job.
Assuming that your goal is academic enlightenment though, my suggestion is to persevere through your AP courses. Try and learn and understand the socialist/statist arguments so that you can more effectively criticize them. I've noticed that too many Austrians (not the 'elite' though) do not do themselves the favour of educating themselves in rival schools of economics, rendering their critiques of them blunt. I am doing a course on neoclassical economics because I want to know what it consists in, even though I hate it with every fibre of my being - and not just for ideological reasons; I simply find it mind-numbingly dull and irrelevant. Additionally, I want to do a PHD at either GMU or NYU, where I can get a formation in Austrian economics. GMU is great as it offers a huge variety of topics to study, including newer schools of economics that are closely allied to Austrianism (e.g. public choice.) I am sure that the academic environments offered by such institutions are greatly conducive to one's personal advancement. I had considered educating myself entirely as well (e.g via the Open University), but I think doing a degree for academic reasons is well worth it, and you can still do private study anyway.
I definitely know what you mean about professors being full of hot air though - I sometimes feel like dozing off to sleep in some of my philosophy and economics lectures.
Firstly I would recommend you not to do an economics undergraduate degree since firstly they're complete tosh and mindnumbingly boring. Here's an example when in a "macro" class yesterday I pointed out to the lecturer, who happens to be the Professor of economics, that the adaptive expectations exhibit the regression ad infinitum fallacy and is thus a contradictory system. His reply was that was a philosophical crtiticism and carried on regardless to produce another page of algebra to solve the model.
Secondly, read this article, it's relatively short, by Gary North here
Thirdly, if you are confident of being able to earn a living writing then go for it and don't get a degree. If you want a degree as a back up do something like philosophy or another liberal arts degree which isn't overally intense, the ones in the UK aren't, and still research when you can.
Btw what are AP economics courses.
The atoms tell the atoms so, for I never was or will but atoms forevermore be.
Wow, my professors at least took note of that problem. A 'philosophical' critique? Maybe if you put it in mathematical terms he'd take heed of it...
AP is equivalent to the AS I believe.
To be fair he, Patrick Minford, one of the leading exponents of rational expectations in the UK and advisor to Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, did make an attempt to defend adaptive expectations: he said that we just assume that inflation always existed and work from there and that their could be a previous time where it did not conform to this model although the model doesn't explain this. I didn't respond although I was tempted to say even if that was the case how do we know that adaptive expectations could explain future events; further saying that it works for what we're studying and not some other period doesn't explain the transition between the two.
What is also interesting is that he used the idea of an (actual) infinite regress to solve the model. I expect you'll do this next year with Patrick's former colleague David Peel.
If I was starting school over with the goal of getting a Economics Ph.D. I would double major in Mathematics and Philosophy. IMO that would be a much better base for graduate econ than just an economics B.S.
"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of
clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves,
while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay
Most universities want you to have done undegraduate courses in econometrics, micro and macroeconomics and so on. It's very difficult to avoid a Bs in Economics if you want to go on further.
Physiocrat, I think he'll actually be teaching on my macro course this year. :)
I would recommend going to get a degree over trying to go the self study route even if you waste it like I did. Don't follow my model of figuring out what you're good at so you don't have to study hard enough to affect your partying though. Woo Hoo, Humboldt State.
As for high school, that was as pointless as community college but in California they have a deal where if you complete all your pre-reqs there the state universities have to take you unless it was an impacted program. This means even a slacker like myself with two years of high school can go get themselves a worthless art history bachelors degree.
I would recommend a smaller school, I was talking to my sister the other day (UCLA) and she's convinced I got a better education at Humboldt because you can actually interact with instructors who don't consider teaching as a distraction to their real job as researchers. She had classes with 500 people while my largest was maybe 50 for an upper division general ed class.
Or the Open University as was suggested, I was looking into that and as soon as I can scrape up some extra cash...
Do you know perhaps what Peel's stance towards free markets is? My macroeconomics professor last year, Gerry Steele, was an Austrian, so he injected quite a bit of pro-market commentary into his teachings.
I'm not sure what kind of AP class you are in, but AP classes in most classrooms around America use a Keynesian framework, which I'm pretty sure is still ordinal utility theory (correct me if I'm wrong). In our class, we simply trudge through Baumol and Blinder's Economics, word-by-word as our teacher knows almost nothing outside of the basics.
Also, face it: you will have an extraordinarily small chance of getting published without credentials.
You may do research on your own time now, but you need to be able to prove it. And the best way to do that is with a degree.
As a senior in college, I understand where you're coming from. My undergraduate education has been laughable at times, yet stimulating here and there. Honestly, I can't wait to get into grad school and an environment where critical thinking and discussion are encouraged. (Mind you, I'm a 27-year-old undergrad; I can't imagine how it would feel to be this way at 18.) At the same time, I have issues with the fact that I would like to become an educator, but not at the university level, and I doubt I will be able to teach anywhere that allows the type of critical thinking and discourse that I want to be a part of the education I deliver.
My recommendation: get a degree. Do it now, before you get older and smarter and are that much more seperated from your peers. It is wise to be choosy about where you go to school, and once you get there you may have to suffer through four years of not being chalenged enough. But getting a degree, especially for an intellectual, is not just about finding a job, but about getting the credentials required to get people to listen to your ideas.
Some universities do allow accelerated programs and independent studies, so you should do research on those. Just a warning, though: it seems as if more schools today care about their ratings than the quality of education they provide. Therefore, a higher ranked school doesn't mean a better school, and when you leave college and enter the job market, it is your interview process and your articulation of your ideas that matters most. Don't give up hope, the world needs intellectuals like you.
I thought I'd give you guys a quick update. Thanks for all the responses. It was actually the discussion here of "the open university" that lead me to my final search. At this point, I think I'm going to go to a college with a focus on individual research, the two schools I've noted most are Marlboro College, and Johns Hopkins University. Worst case scenario I'm going to probably go to an in-state school and double major in history and economics. What I'm going to do though is go to a school where Econ is listed as a liberal art and not a business. I get a feeling that most places "business" will get me a monetarian teacher. Yuch.
I am considering switching to a Philosophy degree from neoclassical economics. I've had enough of the pseudo-mathematical silliness involved. Studying Austrian econ in my private time will be far more constructive.
Inquisitor:I am considering switching to a Philosophy degree from neoclassical economics.
Torsten, I agree that some of the mathematics is valid - I even believe Austrians would do well to employ mathematical tools as a further extension of praxeology. However, I might as well be doing a course in applied mathematics as opposed to economics. I'd rather study the topic in my own time, and devote more time to Austrian economics, as well as neoclassical economics.
Regarding philosophy, I will be sticking mostly to matters of epistemology, Enlightenment and some classical contintental philosophy, ethics and the like. One of the courses will have a component on hermeneutics and post-modernism, which is fine, since I want to better understand them so as to be able to critique them. My plan is to do a JD at GMU or NYU, or even Harvard, in the USA afterwards, so employment prospects aren't something I'm concerned about.
Inquisitor's post really highlight my own difficulties in coming to terms with my predilection for Austrian thinking.
I have no doubt I could thrive in a PhD environment with a heavy mathematical flair; I've finished two courses in multivariable calculus and haven't really met a concept that's been difficult to grasp.
However, my love of economics stems not from tinkering with equations, but discovering fundamental (but not so obvious) truths.
I have no desire to pursue the graduate level, math-oriented economics at most major universities, but I feel that the Austrian School really hasn't gotten its act together (please tell me that I'm wrong!) in the sense of comprehensive offerings aimed at the up and coming generation of undergraduates.
So far, I've heard of Austrian professors at Harvard, NYU, and GMU (any other big names?). I really do enjoy economics, and I'll probably continue to read Mises, Rothbard, Kirzner, et. al well into college.
But it seems as though other fields have far greater research opportunities, faculty resources, and a sense of stability in the undergraduate experience that lends itself more to further study.
Possibly they like mathematics, since this is easier to teach and test.
Inquisitor:Regarding philosophy, I will be sticking mostly to matters of epistemology, Enlightenment and some classical contintental philosophy, ethics and the like. One of the courses will have a component on hermeneutics and post-modernism, which is fine, since I want to better understand them so as to be able to critique them.
I always struggled with academia since on the one hand one has biased teachers (who'll find fault with your work), on the other hand they almost only can measure and will look at what "knowledge"/information you can repreduce in a test or assignment. There is not much space for originality or creative thought. So the average people are the ones performing best at school or in university. Your brightest 5% will actually struggle very often those days.
Torsten thanks for the information. Focusing on Logic has been one of my priorities.