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Learning by Earning: Why Student Investment Groups Are Better than Internships

There has been an increase over time in integrating the academic experience of the classroom with real-world vocational involvement, particularly with the rise in student internships. A large number of college students now make career decisions and obtain permanent employment as a result of short work experiences with employers.

But perhaps an even more spectacular example of integrating classroom learning with real-world experiences comes from student investment groups operating at literally hundreds of American universities. These groups operate in different ways, but all have one thing in common: students are making investment decisions using real money. Let’s talk about three models: Penn State University, Michigan State University, and Ohio University.

At Penn State, a group of private investors provided funds for the student-led Penn State Investment Association to help run the Nitany Lion Fund, a hedge fund that now has some $7 million in investments. The members of the fund’s board of directors are senior investment leaders from the real world, including a Penn State investment officer.

The group invests in about 65 equities. It boasts a good record, with the fund growing from well under $3 million in 2005 to $7 million today. More important to the students, the real-world experience has helped them get jobs with prestigious investment firms that historically derive a large portion of their employees from elite Ivy League schools.

Richard K. Vedder is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Economics at Ohio University, and co-author (with Lowell Gallaway) of the award-winning Independent Institute book, Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America.

From Richard K. Vedder
CAN TEACHERS OWN THEIR OWN SCHOOLS?: New Strategies for Educational Excellence
In Can Teachers Own Their Own Schools?, Richard Vedder examines the economics, history, and politics of education and argues that public schools should be privatized. Privatized public schools would benefit from competition, market discipline, and the incentives essential to produce cost-effective, educational quality, and attract the additional funding and expertise needed to revolutionize school systems.

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