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.

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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.

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