12 Dec 2014

Where to study economics as an undergraduate?

GM emailed me from Peru, with a few questions:
First, what do you think are the best places to study economics? I don´t know in which field I will specialize but I know this: I want to focus in developing economies. Which path do you recommend I take? I will be relying on financial aid to get through college. I didn't even consider applying to the USA until a few months before finishing high school and I have a rather bleak application (Good scores, Good GPA, but no extracurriculars at all). I will apply anyway, but if I don't get in I'll strengthen my file and apply next year. I am still going through the list of universities ranked per aid for international students but I already have four unis to which I will apply: UChicago, Amherst College, Dartmouth College, and Princeton.

Second, do you know any research colleges that are not widely known and maybe not that good in general but have a focus in development economics or sustainable development? What colleges keep popping up in papers you read?
To this, I replied:
  1. Teaching at research universities is not always good for undergraduates. It may make more sense to get a good education at a liberal arts school (don't specialize too soon!) or LatAm school, especially when considering the high cost/difficulty with scholarships

  2. For development economics, it's important to know languages, history, politics and geography. "Context" matters much more than in game theory, for example.

  3. Don't rush. You need 4-5 years for a BSc/BA, then a few years of experience THEN more time IF you want to get a masters. Try to enjoy the process, but don't make too many goals. Yes, you may have a big impact by 25 years old, but there are many things to learn, people to meet AND barriers to change. etc.
Care to offer your opinion, experience or advice?