Friday, January 07, 2011

Andrew Luck and staying in school

Since I came back to America I've also watched a lot of (American) football, at least once baseball season ended. And part of the reason is the joy of sports in HD. So I followed the news about Andrew Luck's decision to stay at Stanford to get his degree with some interest.

Some commentators are doing the whole "this kid is crazy to leave money on the table" thing. But even if that were true (and who's to say Luck wouldn't just have the Sam Bradford Experience?), the "you're only young once" argument runs both ways. There's a qualitative difference in being in college at roughly the same age as your cohort, and just coming in later and finishing the degree. There's some value to the kinds of friendships you can only have in college, for example. Is that worth $10 million? Depends, I suppose, on the marginal value of $10 million to someone who will likely be a multimillionaire any way.

Or to put it another way: at a place like Stanford, there's probably quite a few kids who are smart enough to do enough coursework to graduate in 3 years, get the same Stanford degree, and thereby enter the workforce earlier and increase their lifetime earnings by 1 year (plus reduce tuition by 1 year). Yet I would guess that not that many do so. True, most will have careers that are less time-limited and less lucrative than NFL QB. But 1 year's earnings is still a decent chunk of change. It's still not a rational decision to make unless you figure that people feel that there's some value to the experience of being in college beyond just the degree.


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