Acton Institute Powerblog

Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts

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Many may know that the season finale of The Apprentice was brodcast last night, with the conclusion being a victory for the “Book Smarts” team (college educated or higher) over the “Street Smarts” team (high school only).

Arnold Kling at EconLog points out that the contributions of the young and above-average are almost always undervalued. This experientially strikes me as true. His advice: “If you are exceptional and young, you should start your own business. That way, you will get more than an average reward.”

In a book smarts vs. street smarts comparison, Kling adds, “Learning comes from taking on challenges. Entrepreneurship is a constant, in-your-face challenge. Relative to that, college is a stroll in the park.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Booksmarts vs. Streetsmarts is actually a bogus comparison becuase Tana had more than three years of college education. Does an extra half a year of college make so much difference? Especially when you consider that each additional year has diminishing marginal returns?

    Tana does, however, lack CLASS.

  • Too right, I forgot that Tana started but didn’t end up completing her undegrad degree.

    Although I think I got more out of my last two years of college than my first two, which were mostly composed of gen. ed. courses which I was not interested in. Of course, the tuition went way up once you became upper-division, so in terms of what I got for what I paid, it probably was comparatively less.