Welcome to any new students. The entries usually have something to do with a basic economic principle that is related to a recent news story.
Here is something I wrote for The Ranger (the school paper of San Antonio College where I used to teach) back in 2011 titled "Why is college so hard?"
Students might wonder why college, and SAC in particular, is hard. This
might sound trite, but I think the faculty at SAC want students to
achieve success in life and that means that classes have to be hard if
you are going to learn and understand the concepts which provide a
foundation for that success.
I think my own experience as a
community college student over 30 years ago helps me understand this. My
teachers took their subjects seriously and maintained high academic
standards. They got me excited because of the expertise they brought to
their teaching. Now that I have been a teacher for over 20 years, I can
see how important that was.
After finishing my A.S. degree at
Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) in Palos Hills, Ill., I
transferred to and graduated from the University of Chicago with a
degree in economics. But it was my community college teachers prepared
me to handle the rigors of the U. of C.
Later, I got a Ph. D. in
economics from Washington State University. But I've accomplished some
other things I never could have dreamed of when I began taking classes
at MVCC and I think my teachers there paved the way for me.
2005, I had a letter to the editor published in The Wall Street Journal
(I have now had five published there, three in The New York Times and
three op-eds in the Express-News). This one was several paragraphs long,
nearly as long as some of their op-ed pieces. It was the first letter
in the letters section that day, and I got the top headline. It dealt
with NAFTA and trade agreements.
As nice as that was, I got a big
shock a few days later when I got a letter in the mail, on official
stationery, from Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve
Bank of Dallas. He complimented me on my letter and said it was superb. I
had never even met him or ever tried to contact him before.
I graduated from high school with a 2.7 GPA, and when I started at
MVCC, I had no idea what I would do with my life. If you had told me
then that someday I would have a letter in the WSJ and get that kind of
compliment, I doubt I would have believed you.
Then an adjunct
professor at the business school at the University of Chicago contacted
me a few years ago and wanted to know if it was OK for her to assign a
paper I wrote on entrepreneurs for a class she was teaching on
innovation. (Of course, I said yes).
That professor was Nancy
Tennant Snyder. She has a Ph. D. from George Washington University and
is a vice president at Whirlpool. Business Week magazine has called her
one of the leading innovators in the world. She also cited two of my
papers in one of her books.
Then I got an email from John Joseph,
a professor at the University of Edinburgh. He is an expert on language
and politics. He wanted to know if he could include an essay I wrote in
a four-volume work he was planning. I again said yes and it was
published last year (and it is called Language and Politics).
is a collection of essays. Mine is titled "The Intersection of Economic
Signals and Mythic Symbols." Other contributors include Jeremy Bentham
and George Orwell. When I was a community college student, I never
imagined being included along with the likes of those great thinkers.
co-authors of the book The Economics of Public Issues have thanked me
in each of the last three editions for my helpful suggestions. Almost
all of the people they thank are from big universities. One of the
co-authors of this book, Douglass North, is a Nobel Prize winner. Never
imagined someone like that would value my input when I started out as a
community college student.
Getting such recognition in cases like
this gives me a sense of achievement. I know I have made a scholarly
contribution to the world. And I want all SAC students to have a chance
for this same kind of success (as an academic or any in line of work). I
think all SAC faculty do. That is why school is hard, and that is why
I'm thankful that my community college teachers were experts who
maintained high academic standards.
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