Archives for college



Can Selling Beer Cut Down on Public Drunkenness? A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Can Selling Beer Cut Down on Public Drunkenness?” 

(You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

It features Oliver Luck, the athletic director at West Virginia University, whose Top 10-ranked football team opened the 2012 season by beating Marshall 69-34. Luck himself played quarterback at West Virginia from 1978 to 1981 and, after a four-year NFL career, got into sports administration. These days, he is best known as the father of Indianapolis Colts’ rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

As the A.D. at West Virginia, here’s what Luck saw happening at home football games:

“People drinking far too much at pre-game parties and tailgate parties before games. Sneaking alcohol into games. Leaving at halftime or any point during the game to go back out to the tailgate to drink even more and come back into the game. … They would usually drink hard liquor — ‘get their buzz back on’ and come back into the game for the third quarter.  And the police again would know exactly at what point in the third quarter these ‘throw-up calls’ would start to come over the radio.”

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How to Get a Doctorate in Six Weeks

I assume this is only a coincidence but still, it’s a good one.

Shortly after putting out the first half of our “Freakonomics Goes to College” podcast, which included a segment on the market for fake diplomas from counterfeiters and diploma mills, I got the following piece of spam. It appears to be from a Norwegian e-mail domain: Read More »



Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2.”

Part 1 explored the value of a college degree and the market for fake diplomas. This episode looks at tuition costs and also tries to figure out exactly how the college experience makes people so much better off.

You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.

While there are a lot of different voices in this episode, including current and recent college grads, the episode is also a bit heavy on economists (d’oh!), including: Read More »



Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1.” The gist: what is the true value these days of a college education?

(You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

As you can tell from the title, this is the first episode of a two-parter. There is so much to say about college that we could have done ten episodes on the topic, but we held ourselves back to two.

The key guests in this first episode are, in order of appearance:

+ Allen Ezell, a former FBI agent who co-authored the book Degree Mills: The Billion-dollar Industry That Has Sold over a Million Fake Diplomas.

+ Karl Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush. Rove, it turns out, is not a college graduate. He is, however, a published author — of Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.

+ David Card, an economist at Berkeley who has done a lot of research and writing on the value of education.

+ And our own Steve Levitt, who has this to say about college: Read More »



How Much Do Football Wins Pay Off for a College?

An NBER paper by Michael L. Anderson looks into the how a university’s football performance affects its academic performance:

Spending on big-time college athletics is often justified on the grounds that athletic success attracts students and raises donations. Testing this claim has proven difficult because success is not randomly assigned. We exploit data on bookmaker spreads to estimate the probability of winning each game for college football teams. We then condition on these probabilities using a propensity score design to estimate the effects of winning on donations, applications, and enrollment. The resulting estimates represent causal effects under the assumption that, conditional on bookmaker spreads, winning is uncorrelated with potential outcomes. Two complications arise in our design. First, team wins evolve dynamically throughout the season. Second, winning a game early in the season reveals that a team is better than anticipated and thus increases expected season wins by more than one-for-one. We address these complications by combining an instrumental variables-type estimator with the propensity score design. We find that winning reduces acceptance rates and increases donations, applications, academic reputation, in-state enrollment, and incoming SAT scores.

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A Distinguished Alumni Award for Dubner

I was recently humbled and thrilled to return to my undergraduate alma mater, Appalachian State University, to receive its Distinguished Alumni Award. Here’s the introductory video the school made: Read More »



Getting and Giving: How Does Receiving Financial Aid Affect Later Donations?

We ran a blog post a while back about how alumni should think about giving money to their alma maters. A recent NBER paper (abstract; PDF) by Jonathan Meer and Harvey S. Rosen looks at the “donative behaviour” of alumni who received financial aid. It has some really interesting conclusions:

The empirical work is based upon micro data on alumni giving at an anonymous research university.  We focus on three types of financial aid, scholarships, loans, and campus jobs. …

Our main findings are:  1) Individuals who took out student loans are less likely to make a gift, other things being the same.  We conjecture that this phenomenon is caused by an “annoyance effect” –
alumni resent the fact that they are burdened with loans.  2) Scholarship aid reduces the size of a gift, but has little effect on the probability of donating.  The negative effect of receiving a scholarship on donations decreases in absolute value with the size of the scholarship.  We do not find any evidence that scholarship recipients give less because they have relatively low incomes post graduation.  3) Aid in the form of campus jobs does not have a strong effect on donative behavior.

 



Is College Worth It? Non-Grads Say Yes

Notwithstanding the ongoing controversy over rising college tuition costs, there’s one group of people who think that college is worth the cost: people who haven’t gone. Catherine Rampell of Economix blogs about a new survey of recent high school graduates:

Seven in 10 of these recent graduates said they would need more education if they were to have a successful career. Despite their belief in the value of post-secondary education, though, only 38 per cent definitely planned to attend college to get more education in the next five years. Barriers included skyrocketing tuitions and family obligations.

Many of the respondents felt differently at the start of high school — 35 per cent thought they would “definitely” go to college and 28 percent believed they would “probably” go.  Minority students were even more optimistic at the start of high school: