Welcome to another edition of the occasional post highlighting the best stories of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.
Denise Pope, co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and advocacy group at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, conducted an extensive review of the academic literature on whether the brand name of the college a student attends actually matters.
The research shows that a school’s selectivity is not a reliable predictor of outcomes, particularly when it comes to learning. As common sense would suggest, the students who study hard at college are the ones that end up learning the most, regardless of whether they attend an Ivy League school or a local community college. Similarly, the 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index, a study of over 30,000 graduates, found no correlation between college selectivity and future job satisfaction or well-being.
The students who benefit most from college, including first-generation and traditionally underserved students, are those who are most engaged in academic life and their campus communities, taking full advantage of the college’s opportunities and resources.
Studies conducted by Gallup-Purdue also show a strong connection between certain forms of engagement in college and future job satisfaction and well-being. In particular, they found six key college experiences that correlated with how fulfilled employees feel at work and whether they thrive in life after college:
- Taking a course with a professor who makes learning exciting
- Working with professors who care about students personally
- Finding a mentor who encourages students to pursue personal goals
- Working on a project across several semesters
- Participating in an internship that applies classroom learning
- Being active in extracurricular activities
Alison Gopnik notes that after reading “Possible Minds: 25 Ways of Looking at AI,” that there’s a more profound way in which human intelligence is different from artificial intelligence. The trick behind the recent advances in AI is that a human specifies a particular objective for the machine. But people also can decide to change their objectives. Indeed, the point of each new generation is to create new objectives. And yet, somehow, in a way that we don’t understand at all, we don’t merely slide into relativism. We can decide what is worth doing in a way that AI can’t. So far at least, we are the only creatures who can decide not only what we want but whether we should want it.
Reporter James Hookway notes that parliamentary elections in Thailand are being held this weekend. At least 10 candidates have legally changed their names to Thaksin, the name of the exiled ex-prime minister. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was a telecommunications billionaire before becoming what many Thais consider the country’s most popular civilian leader, and he remains the only Thai prime minister ever to be re-elected. It is easy to change a name in Thailand. It costs about 80 cents, and the paperwork and a new identification card can be issued on the same day. Sometimes people change their names for good luck, after consulting fortunetellers and other specialists on the most auspicious combinations.
Jo Craven McGinty points out that historically, as a society’s income increases, so does its height. But the U.S., with the highest disposable income per capita of any country, isn’t the world’s tallest nation.
It used to be. For more than 200 years, Americans towered over everyone else, according to John Komlos, an economic historian who studies the effect of income and the economy on stature. But today, Americans, and everyone else, look up to the Dutch.
Based on white and black U.S.-born adults, the average American woman is 5 feet 5 inches tall, and the average American man is 5 feet 10 inches tall. The average Dutch woman is 5 feet 7 inches tall, and the average Dutch man is about 6 feet and a half inch.
Rob Atkinson, 64, is a Canadian-American economist, and founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He challenges the notion that small firms drive the economy and labor market and makes the case that business behemoths are “more efficient, more productive, but also more innovative.” Big business, he says, benefits employees and consumers in ways small companies are unable to match.
Dave Dombrowski, architect of the reigning World Series champion Red Sox, talks with reporter Jared Diamond about some of his most trusted advisers, a personal board of directors if you will, including one of the winningest MLB managers of all time and a Hockey Hall of Famer.