Best Colleges

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    My 16 year old son will be applying to colleges next year, and I need some input from my fellow libertarians on what schools to consider. My son is interested in getting an engineering major, but has a great interest in history and economics as minors. Derek has been getting mostly A’s for the past 5 years of school, because his early private school experience taught him the value of keeping up with his homework, and he has a great work ethic. Now in public high school, he finds himself ranked #2 in his Junior class. He has great extra-curricular involvement with his Robotics team and Boy Scouts. Derek has been dreaming of MIT ever since his Private school days, but his excellent grades won’t necessarily get him in. Mom and Dad and Derek are all focussed on getting value from the college experience. We’ve noticed that schools like Michigan and Berkeley are priced lower and ranked high for engineering. Derek currently has a libertarian view of the world, gained from living with his small-business running parents, and influenced by hundreds of in-depth conversations with Dad about Ron Paul and politics and economics. Can any of my libertarian comrades offer some helpful insights on college selection?


    I would be inclined to say that he should go to the best engineering school he can get into, and leave the libertarian stuff for his spare time. He won’t (or shouldn’t) have time for libertarian activism if he really intends to apply himself to engineering and make himself the best he can be. That’s my advice.


    I would agree with Tom. In my own college experience, I read libertarian writers and watched nearly every Ron Paul and Mises U vid ever in my spare time.

    I had a friend whose sister came back from college indoctrinated, so I understand the concern. However, as libertarians, we must get used to being the “away team” in political debates.

    The best I can recommend is sending Derek to one or more summers at Mises U, so he can get a good economics and history background, and focus on his engineering studies during the regular school year.

    A buddy of mine who teaches history was taught that Nullification was dreamed up by John C Calhoun(on a Tuesday afternoon I guess), so studying economics and history as a minor, I would consider a waste of time(since his career aspirations are in robotics).

    For the robotics angle, when I worked at a hospital there were students who had come to install some robotics equipment for surgical applications, so schools with good medical connections might also be helpful since the engineering side of the healthcare field is always growing.


    Engineering and economics are generally the least left-wing majors on any college campus. Even math has its Marxists (yes, it’s true), but statics, dynamics, fluids, etc., brook no buffoonery, and economics departments tend to have the second-most non-liberals of the lot.

    I agree with Tom 100%. An MIT degree is a wonderful credential to have for life, and he should get one if he can. A newly minted engineering degree will pay off those loans shortly; a guy in his 20s can vow upon graduation to pay them off within a decade and continue living close to the bone as he did in college.

    I’ve been giving my daughter this same talk recently. She’s looking at engineering too, and Dad was highly impressed by a joint visit to Columbia. No one ever said, “I wish I didn’t have an MIT degree,” or, “I wish I hadn’t earned my bachelor’s at Columbia.” Again: it’s not just a degree, it’s a ticket to the national elite in a way that Michigan and Berkeley just aren’t. Esteemed professors move from Michigan to MIT, not the other way around.

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