Long time ago only those who had clear career goals would attend university or college. These days everybody wants to go to the university, without realizing that this is not maybe the best way to go. University can easily cost 50k $ plus, plus additional money on living costs. Not to even mention opportunity costs since you don’t do anything else in that time instead of studying, so one should think twice before going to the university.
I attended university myself, even went to graduate program, so how come I can tell someone to not go to university? Well, my education was “completely free”, I didn’t pay a dime for tuition fee, since I got scholarships covering all tuition fees plus living costs. “Free” in sense of covered costs, but I still wasted years of my time.
Ironically, first time I dropped out, but went back to studies years after. Why? Well, when I dropped out, I didn’t see much sense to attend university, since I was busy with other things (business). I went back, because university got me the opportunity to go to study abroad, which was amazing experience. I applied for 4 scholarships, and got it each time and traveled the world, studying in different countries. The way I saw it, I got “free holidays”. All I had to do is to attend some classes, pass some exams, and the rest was traveling.
Once I was was watching an interview with a guy who worked in scholarship committee for over a decade. He said that many times happens, that they have money, but there are simply not enough applicants. It seemed to me that many students were missing out opportunity for scholarships since they told themselves in advance that they can’t get it, without even trying. So instead of telling yourself “I can’t get this scholarship”, simply just apply. This is free money and you should do all you can to get it.
So, I went to university/es for free, but can still say to think twice before going to one? Yes, I am still telling that. Why? Because going to the university is a major waste of time in most cases. Let me explain.
1. You spend years until you get a degree, years which you could spend otherwise building your business, learn some craft, or travel the world.
If you have any spare money, then this is the time, when you should travel. If you don’t, you can do some part time job, save some money and go.
When on traveling, I met a guy, who did half a year part time job, cleaning fish, saved the money and went to travel for a year. On his traveling, he realized what he want to do with his life. He went back home, applied for venture capital and started his business. Should he go directly to the university, he might ended as a worker for someone else.
2. You spend years when you have the most energy to do anything you want. You most likely don’t have “own” family yet, debt, big bills to pay or mortgage. You waste this precious time sitting at the desk, listening and “learning” things which don’t really prepare you for the real life.
3. Most things you learn in university are available for free on the internet. Some of the examples, where you can obtain free knowledge:
MIT Open Courseware, collections of technology, art and business. There are free lectures as well as presentations and notes.
Harvard Open Learning Initiative, where you can get free courses from computer science, mathematics and other fields.
Open Yale, rich with videos of different lectures.
Stanford Courses on iTunes, with video and audio lectures of different fields. Best collection on business field.
TED, big collection of short motivational speeches. Although this is not academic page, it can give deep insights from successful people who put significant knowledge and experience in short presentations.
Of course there are many others, this are just some of free sources, where you can obtain quality knowledge. All the knowledge you can learn in the university is for free on the internet.
4. Degree doesn’t guarantee a job anymore. Indeed, having some worthless degree can even be disadvantage.
But employers want a degree you say? Well, this might have been before, but these days when everyone have a degree, it doesn’t really give you any competitive advantage.
Besides, why would they hire more expensive candidate with a degree, when they can hire somebody for less money without a degree. If you have “a good” degree from “a good” university, you might be signaling that you are too expensive, since employers know your education cost money and that you are probably loaded with debt. You will want to repay it, right.
What employers really want is specific edge, some specific know-how, which you can bring to the company. Besides, there is no reason to work for someone else, when you can work for yourself. To spend tons of money and waste years to get a worthless paper at the end just doesn’t make much sense.
5. University cost money, a lot of it. Not only in terms of giving cash, but also in terms of opportunity cost because of time. If you get scholarship or have cash to burn (e.g. from rich family), fine, but don’t ever entrap yourself into student loan. Stay out of debt for any reason.
Students apply to university when most of them don’t exactly know what they want to do with their life, so they just pick one major, which seems fine at the moment, but later, after spending money and wasting time, realize this is not what they want to do in life.
The only time you should go to the university is if you actually will learn things, which you can’t obtain somewhere else, absolutely need a degree for your career, preferably get a scholarship and got enrolled to one of top universities.
Specific majors, when you should attend university are medicine, natural sciences (like mathematics, physics…), engineering, if you want work in aviation industry for example and such. There is no reason to waste any time and money with social sciences, like marketing, business studies, liberal arts and such.
Simply skip such majors and do something else in that time. Do some part time jobs, save some money and travel the world for example. Start your business or learn specific trade. After four years, there will be millions of fresh graduates with worthless papers, while you have specific advantage, experience, or already have successful business.
Worst thing you can do, is to attend some average university, some worthless major and end up with huge student debt. This takes years to repay and there is no justification to live with debt.
So now, not only somebody who didn’t go to the university and built business in that time has an advantage since he has a stable income, but also didn’t end up with student debt. Universities live of students money, they can’t survive without, so they will promote more and more worthless majors, promising good jobs (after you give them all your money for tuition fee) and won’t teach you anything good. Indeed, some of top entrepreneurs are already suggesting that education need a dramatic shift, since newly graduates are just not prepare for real business world.
Indeed, problem with education today is not that there is not enough of it, there is too much of it. Quantity of education surpassed its quality. Education today is a massive business, which drains money of graduates-to-be, without them realizing that when they get a degree, they will not have any significant advantage. If you want to have a real advantage, learn skills, real skills.