Grad days

Dan Drezner asks which years are more formative:  grad school or undergrad?

There's something else about this essay that gnaws at me, however -- why is graduate school now the formative experience for presidents?  I bet more people know that Clinton went to Yale law school than Georgetown as an undergrad.  That holds double for Obama's matriculation at Harvard law school, which overlooks his time at either Occidental or Columbia. 

Speaking for myself, I undoubtedly learned a lot at my graduate school.  If pressed, however, I suspect that my truly formative years were spent at this place.  I also suspect that this is true of more professionals than not. 

I put it to (well educated) readers, however -- what matters more in your biography, your undergraduate years or your graduate years?

Myself, I vote for grad school.  The second semester of my senior year, David Slavitt, who was by far one of my favorite professors,  asked my creative writing seminar a question that we all should have asked ourselves a lot sooner:  "Why is it that most of you spend all your energies getting as little as possible for your $100,000?"  In grad school, I was less aimless.  Or at least, I wasted a lot less time writing truly dreadful novels.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Business

Just In