Four classes for your modern life

Life will test you on these

The summer before I went to grad school to study political economy, I read — cover to cover — an introductory economics textbook by Harvard professor Gregory Mankiw.

Great little book. Very accessible.

So I took notice when I saw the following list in The New York Times about what courses students need for life and why.

I found I had only half of the courses covered — and I’ve always regretted not taking them.

Below is a condensed version of the list. Click on the link above for the full explanation.

  1. LEARN SOME ECONOMICS. If the current moribund economy turns into a lost decade, as some economists fear it might, it will be crucial to be prepared for it.
  2. LEARN SOME STATISTICS. One thing the modern computer age has given everyone is data. Lots and lots of data. There is a large leap, however, between having data and learning from it.
  3. LEARN SOME FINANCE. With the rise of 401(k) plans and the looming problems with Social Security, Americans are increasingly in charge of their own financial future.
  4. LEARN SOME PSYCHOLOGY. It reveals flaws in human rationality, including your own.

That said, Mankiw says: IGNORE ADVICE AS YOU SEE FIT. “Those leaving home and starting their freshman year should listen to it, consider it, reflect on it but ultimately follow their own instincts and passions.”