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College or Numismatics?
January 18, 2011

There was a strange bit of news this morning – at least I thought so. It was a study that said college students learn virtually nothing in the first two years, fully 36 percent show no added knowledge at graduation and the amount of homework done at college has dropped by half from what their parents did.

What an expensive way to kill time for four years.

There is more impact on the lives of coin collectors over the span of four years if they subscribe to a hobby periodical and buy a guide book or two along the way.

And it is far cheaper.

Though to achieve this, hobbyists do have to pay some attention to what is going on around them and spend a little thinking time on their own as well. Too bad the American Numismatic Association could not fund a long-term study.

Take a group of young collectors and test them every five years for 20 or 25 years and see what the impact of the hobby is on their level of knowledge.

Sure, numismatics doesn’t cover all of the educational disciplines, but it would cover some. It would be interesting to see what impact being a hobbyist has on an average life.

If they test just ANA members, that would skew results. Most collectors are not ANA members. To be one, you don’t have to be super smart or super active. You just have to be committed to the field. Such a commitment virtually guarantees learning.

To be interested enough in something to do it because you want to rather than because you are told to, or it is somehow expected of you, makes learning much more enjoyable and much easier.

In short, an interest in numismatics will make life much more rewarding.

On that basis, I hope that 36 percent of college graduates can find something they are interested in. It clearly wasn’t college study.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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