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RANT Formal Education is Overrated!(or not?)

jon.M

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I’m not a big fan of the amount of hate that formal ed receives around here sometimes.

Most of the top successful Fastlaners are university educated.

Sure you can self-educate yourself, but a lot of people self-educate and then come out believing in The Secret Law of Attraction or that Vaccines cause autism.

The problem with self-education is that there’s no quality control. People just read some alternative medicine blog or Conspiracy theory website and think it's true. You really need a good way of separating the truth from the bullshit, and that's a skill that's really emphasized in universities.

The information presented in legit universities have been thoroughly vetted and fact-checked and are based on research.

Sure universities aren’t perfect, but they’re really great places to learn.
My perception is that the "college sucks"-trope that's going on nowadays is largely because:

(A) It's what people want to hear. I notice lots of slowlaners have adopted the opinion -- probably because it means they don't need to hold themselves to as high standards. Why delay your gratification when you can order some bracelets from AliExpress right now and become an ENTREPRENEUR?

(B) It's what people want to focus on. All these people who talk about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg may be unaware of the survivorship bias. How many dropouts end up like Bill Gates, and how many do not?

(C) It's what people want to say. If you never went to college it's tough to admit you perhaps made a suboptimal choice. Of course, most people will live with the belief that their way of life is the best. Why would they settle for less?

Of course, this also applies to university graduates. But the fact that non-university graduates say something the majority wants to believe may contribute to the popularity of their opinion.

Personally, I'm from both camps.

I'm a high-school dropout who never got a diploma in a country with no equivalent to the GEDs. But this year I used my entrepreneurial skills to literally talk my way into a Computer Science undergraduate programme in university. It's a cakewalk compared to real life, and most students will probably never amount to much. But if you go through it with a fastlane mindset... it will open your mind up to countless possibilites. And you'll get armed with a superpower called expertise in an area you can build solid companies off of.

A few weeks ago I went to Stockholm to see Nassim Taleb. He talked about aiming for optionality. An option is, according to him, something of limited downside with a large, open-ended upside. It made sense to me, as he managed to clearly articulate something I'd been thinking about for some time myself.

No one knows the future for certain. But everyone can improve their options and probabilities.

A teen could drop out of high school and work to achieve their dream of millions. But frankly, the odds are stacked against him. And what are his options if the dream does not play out within a couple years? McDonald's? Hustling on UpWork like everyone else in the gig economy (with no special skills, too)? Cleaning hepatitis-infected blood, piss, puke and shit in a hospital?

For an university graduate, the odds are also stacked against him. He could also end up on Mickey D's. But he could also end up armed with tons more knowledge, connections with the people who may not end up successful founders but C-suites, and potential for quite well-paid jobs that provide money, flexibility and experience which the high school dropout will not have.

Let's assume you will fail in your ambitions of building a multimillion dollar company - worst case scenario - would you rather end up with a pocket full of mumbles in a world with ever-increasing demands on workers, or a well-paid worker drone with better circumstances?

I don't only bat for the fences. I hedge myself as well.
 

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Yzn

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The only problem I see from college education is the disconnect between the education and the actual job.

I mean we learned maths, biology, chemistry, physics, public speaking, excel sheets and tons and tons in the 3 years course, with around 2 semesters of actual occupational health and safety courses based on one NEBOSH book, which could of been studied and passed in less than six months.

Then on the actual job, we just had to walk around the site with a checklist telling employees to wear their safety helmets and uniform.

But that's in the Middle East, so I don't know about the West. I heard they actually implement their knowledge practically everyday at the job.

Another thing in this part of the world as of 2019, if you don't have a degree you'll basically live under poverty line at jobs with wages that dont even cover your transport. Unless you become a successful business owner and you know how hard that is.
 
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Vairavan

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Then on the actual job, we just had to walk around the site with a checklist telling employees to wear their safety helmets and uniform.
This exact sentiment is shared by my friends who finished college. They can't believe they wasted 4 years learning stuff they'll never use in their life.
 
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Vairavan

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Let's assume you will fail in your ambitions of building a multimillion dollar company - worst case scenario - would you rather end up with a pocket full of mumbles in a world with ever-increasing demands on workers, or a well-paid worker drone with better circumstances?
What about the theory of "Burning Your Boats" so that you'll get into the mentality of "Do or Die Trying"?
 
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My perception is that the "college sucks"-trope that's going on nowadays is largely because:

(A) It's what people want to hear. I notice lots of slowlaners have adopted the opinion -- probably because it means they don't need to hold themselves to as high standards. Why delay your gratification when you can order some bracelets from AliExpress right now and become an ENTREPRENEUR?

(B) It's what people want to focus on. All these people who talk about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg may be unaware of the survivorship bias. How many dropouts end up like Bill Gates, and how many do not?

(C) It's what people want to say. If you never went to college it's tough to admit you perhaps made a suboptimal choice. Of course, most people will live with the belief that their way of life is the best. Why would they settle for less?

Of course, this also applies to university graduates. But the fact that non-university graduates say something the majority wants to believe may contribute to the popularity of their opinion.

Personally, I'm from both camps.

I'm a high-school dropout who never got a diploma in a country with no equivalent to the GEDs. But this year I used my entrepreneurial skills to literally talk my way into a Computer Science undergraduate programme in university. It's a cakewalk compared to real life, and most students will probably never amount to much. But if you go through it with a fastlane mindset... it will open your mind up to countless possibilites. And you'll get armed with a superpower called expertise in an area you can build solid companies off of.

A few weeks ago I went to Stockholm to see Nassim Taleb. He talked about aiming for optionality. An option is, according to him, something of limited downside with a large, open-ended upside. It made sense to me, as he managed to clearly articulate something I'd been thinking about for some time myself.

No one knows the future for certain. But everyone can improve their options and probabilities.

A teen could drop out of high school and work to achieve their dream of millions. But frankly, the odds are stacked against him. And what are his options if the dream does not play out within a couple years? McDonald's? Hustling on UpWork like everyone else in the gig economy (with no special skills, too)? Cleaning hepatitis-infected blood, piss, puke and shit in a hospital?

For an university graduate, the odds are also stacked against him. He could also end up on Mickey D's. But he could also end up armed with tons more knowledge, connections with the people who may not end up successful founders but C-suites, and potential for quite well-paid jobs that provide money, flexibility and experience which the high school dropout will not have.

Let's assume you will fail in your ambitions of building a multimillion dollar company - worst case scenario - would you rather end up with a pocket full of mumbles in a world with ever-increasing demands on workers, or a well-paid worker drone with better circumstances?

I don't only bat for the fences. I hedge myself as well.
I personally believe that if you are legitimately trying to build a multi-million dollar company.. and you fail.. you end up beyond qualified for most positions. Especially the positions of fresh graduates.

There is of course the exception of doctors, lawyers, and (although I’m not sure) engineers.
 
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Vairavan

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I think @MJ is the only person in this forum qualified to give a verdict on this.
He is both a millionaire and a graduate. So far as I remember he says education is not necessary to become a millionaire in his book.


The message is miscommunicated. See my reply to @JScott .
 
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In my experience, I’m glad I’m going to college. It is a great time to take risks without as many responsibilities. Everyone is too focused on the wrong stuff. College isn’t about the degree. Even if your goal was to go get a job. Employers don’t care about a high gpa. They have what they consider good a good gpa and that is probably around a 3.0. As long as you’re above that you’re golden.

Going to college is about networking. Doing all the extracurriculars. Trying new stuff, meeting new people. Personally, I’ve become a lot better at just talking to people. I’m in clubs learning about things that I’m interested in. I think I’m benefitting from going to college and I have so many more resources at my fingertips. I can 3D print stuff for “free”. I can talk to lawyers for “free”. I can connect with successful entrepreneurs in the city because I paid $50 to join a club. “Free” because I’m paying tuition but I think there are a lot of benefits to going to college as long as you focus on the right things.
 

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I think @MJ is the only person in this forum qualified to give a verdict on this.
He is both a millionaire and a graduate. So far as I remember he says education is not necessary to become a millionaire in his book.
Yup, pretty sure that MJ is the only millionaire and graduate on this forum...

But, let's say -- completely hypothetically, of course -- that there were other millionaire/graduates on this forum. Would their opinion carry as much weight?
 
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Vairavan

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Yup, pretty sure that MJ is the only millionaire and graduate on this forum...

But, let's say -- completely hypothetically, of course -- that there were other millionaire/graduates on this forum. Would their opinion carry as much weight?
Looks like your millionaire ego got stroked.

Really sorry. My mistake. The message is not communicated clearly.

I didn't say @MJ is the only millionaire here. I know that there are many more people here like you, @biophase ,@Kak ,@Vigilante ,@SteveO ,@AllenCrawley ,etc who are also millionaires.(To the best of my knowledge) But, I don't know about their education and their opinion about the importance of it.

Since I know for sure @MJ is a graduated millionaire who also said education is not necessary to make millions I asked that question. My question was Knowing what he now knows would he graduated in the first place? The answer could instantly settle this debate.
 

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This entire freaking thread is Scripted because you’re all defining “Formal Education” from an Industrialist’s point of view.

A teacher ONLY EXISTS to train you and get you a job, right???

^severe sarcasm

So this whole thread asks “how do we get from point A to point $$$$$ more efficiently? Do we need college to do it?”

Wrong. Wrong!!! So so so freaking wrong.

That premise is fatal!

A real education, a real teacher, is one that connects a person to great minds in Art, Literature, History, Nature, and the ever-changing kaleidoscope we call Science.

Education is a life, an atmosphere, a culture of existence where your heart is changed and challenged; where your soul can soar... not just be shoved into the shape of a cog. It’s NOT “here go do this and make some cash”.

I can learn how to DO almost anything by watching YouTube or researching online but a real education isn’t being a mindless, heartless automaton who just performs a task, a real education from an experienced wiser more mature teacher questions who we are to BE and opens up possibilities for us to LOVE.

You might find a teacher like that in a great college. You might find a great teacher like that in your local library. You might find him sweeping the alleyway like Mr. Miyagi.

You wanna be a leader who shapes the next generation and impacts others and GENUINELY ADDS VALUE? You can’t learn that from just YouTube! You gotta immerse yourself with excellent ideas and find someone who will inspire you with their passion.. oh ffs.

Blah! I’ve been up all night chasing down products on six different apps.. (totes procrastinating from what I’m supposed to be doing I might add) I can’t even make a good sentence right now.. but to dismiss the breadth and width of what a great education is.. that’s just creating more sheep!

Come on. We can do better. This isn’t a question of college or not. It’s the intent behind WHATEVER EDUCATION YOU PURSUE.

Are you going somewhere to gain a job or to enrich your soul? Cuz.. one of those things is NOT like the other.
 

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My opinion on degrees has changed somewhat over the past few years. I'm not a billionaire, so I can't speak for that side of things. But I am paying out of pocket for a graduate degree. I started my business without a degree, but with lots of self-education. So I don't find it impossible to have success without a degree.

Once I had my B.A. it was a useful credibility marker. It indicates a sense of commitment and follow-through, which may not be important for most; however, I believe it could be important for fundraising, entrepreneurial pursuits and hidden opportunities.

An M.A. for me is both a credibility marker and a pass-through to a Doctoral degree which establishes the most credibility. I have no intent of applying my education in traditional means (for instance counseling, therapy, and probably not even research).

So I guess my opinion is that the value of a degree is based on intent and perhaps context. As an entrepreneur, it doesn't matter if it costs a lot. Business pays for it. Plus degrees create barriers to entry, networking opportunities, and a chance to learn things you otherwise might not.

Overall my B.A. is mostly useless except for credibility and networking. An M.A. offers enough credibility for many customers to make buying decisions without much thought. A Ph.D. makes you an "expert" even in unrelated fields and opens doors that are closed to most of the world.

I would still have success without degrees. So in my case it comes down to who I want to be and how I want to be seen in the future. Letters behind my name are rewards for me. They're personal accomplishments just as building profitable businesses are personal accomplishments. They're one more way to look back on life and feel like I did something with it.

But I started with success, then worked toward degrees. So for me it isn't a question of success hinging on college. Also, I value degrees a lot more now that I have one.
 

fastlanedoll

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Yes, I'm planning to be both an entrepreneur & a doctor.

Doctors are indispensable and do a world of good (literally), if you're doing it right.
Medicine is an art that is continually refined by the experience you gain from reading and practising that I believe no AI can fully replace (at least not in our lifetime).

Even with advances like robotic surgery; would you really trust a robot to operate on you?
A robot is a machine, with no real senses or process of thought. Soo many things can go wrong in an operation that one technical mishap in the robot, and your operation is completely effed.

I'd rather practice medicine in a field that doesn't require the extreme long hours (ER is an example), earn an above average salary, so that I can use the income to both enjoy my life and have more capital to invest into a potential business.

Even if you're not doing medicine, your degree will give you a leg-up on people who don't have one (assuming all else is equal). Some jobs REQUIRE a degree. Period. And you'll most likely earn more than those who don't, which then also gives you a leg up in the entrepreneurial world.

I haven't read the whole thread (only the last page), but I agree that four years wasted learning something you'll NEVER use, is a waste.

It's not about the degree itself, but choosing that degree wisely so that not only it gives you a leg-up, but assists you in whatever endeavour you choose to take on later.
 

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It is overrated if you expect them to teach you how to make money directly.

But I think college education still have far more good benefits.

1) Network. It is harder to make friends after you leave schools and step out in the working world. I am a financial consultant and my high school and University network forms a good client pool.

2) Ecosystem. Even if you are into doing business if you go to a good school you are more likely to find capable business partners. A good school with alumni entrepreneurs give you good connection on business network and potential fundings. There is a reason why so many ultra successful entrepreneurs drop out from top tier schools not average schools. They managed to find enough resources there while being in the school.

3) Critical thinking ability- It is very easy to get sucked into the guru worship crap while navigating alone in the cyber space for business and life advice. Tertiary institutions teach you that.
 

Dan_Cardone

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It is overrated if you expect them to teach you how to make money directly.

But I think college education still have far more good benefits.

1) Network. It is harder to make friends after you leave schools and step out in the working world. I am a financial consultant and my high school and University network forms a good client pool.

2) Ecosystem. Even if you are into doing business if you go to a good school you are more likely to find capable business partners. A good school with alumni entrepreneurs give you good connection on business network and potential fundings. There is a reason why so many ultra successful entrepreneurs drop out from top tier schools not average schools. They managed to find enough resources there while being in the school.

3) Critical thinking ability- It is very easy to get sucked into the guru worship crap while navigating alone in the cyber space for business and life advice. Tertiary institutions teach you that.
I somewhat agree on #1.

I think the problem isn't that schools make it easy to network (they do), but that people are horrible at networking in general. In today's hyper connected world its super easy to meet and network with people but few people take the time to understand how.

Going to a university almost "forces" a person to interact with others which is why they always find networking easier there. I tell everyone, school or no school, make it a goal to reach out to five people a week who can help you in some way. Find a way to also provide value to them and in no time a large network will be formed.

Agree on #2.

Strongly disagree on #3. Have you seen the majority of kids in college (or freshly graduated) lately? Bunch of sheep! Thats all I'll say about that...
 

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Strongly disagree on #3. Have you seen the majority of kids in college (or freshly graduated) lately? Bunch of sheep! Thats all I'll say about that...
I agree, and I think it's another one of those areas where you bring it with you rather than developing it during.

Recently I joined a Facebook group for my school. There are hundreds if not thousands of posts by students who have no idea why they picked their major or why they're going to college.

Every day there's another post with some variation of:

"Did I pick the right college?"
"Did I pick the right major?"
"What can I do with my major?"
"I found out I hate my major, should I keep going?"

These are currently enrolled students, many of which are 3/4ths finished. I find it deeply troubling that they're asking these questions after amassing 10 years worth of debt.
 

Kevin88660

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Strongly disagree on #3. Have you seen the majority of kids in college (or freshly graduated) lately? Bunch of sheep! Thats all I'll say about that...
It is more about the thought process that an academia cultivates.

Business world personality is about strong execution ability and optimism.

Academia personality is like a deep thinker, many times playing the role of a cynic. Being open minded but often paying attention to evidence.

I think a healthy combination of the two would be good.

Without execution you can have all the knowledge in your brain but not amounting to anything. We know that.

But a lot of 20 plus year olds just got sucked into doing mindless MLM and chasing the latest fad. It is another problem to waste 3-5 years of your time.

Where do you drawing the line between wasting your time on a failed project versus not giving up a potential idea too early without tweaking some variables? This is a common example that I think we need to put on the analyst hat and have a systematic approach to this. It is a technical question on probability and opportunity cost. It is very hard to see things this way without having a colleague training (that encourage you or force you to read research papers in any discipline).

The cyber space of business and self-help guru like to paint things in black and white. They often say there is an old way of doing things that is “outdated and bad”. And they have found the holy grail that will Solve all your problem. There is always a “best”way of doing certain things. 1) Internet business is the best because it gives you Low startup cost and unlimited scalability ...sounds popular?
2) Real estate investing is the best because the bank give you a high leverage through mortgage and a consistent stream of rental income. Sounds popular? Oh no no be like Buffett or Munger and buy a few good companies and them forever...

The problem is that all these mantra only promote the good side of the story and not cautioning on the other side. I remember that in high school we are trained to write argumentative essays where we have to give two sides of opposing opinions before jumping to a balanced conclusion favoring one Side over the other. I find this such a useful attitude navigating the cyber world of Business and Investing.
 

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I didn't say @MJ is the only millionaire here.
No, you said that "MJ is the only person in this forum qualified to give a verdict on this."

Why do you believe that's true?
 

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For F*ck sake this topic has been beaten to death.

Does college get you closer to your goals?

If so, do it.

If not, don't.

It's that simple.

College is not the end-all-be-all to success, and neither is skipping out on it.
 

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For F*ck sake this topic has been beaten to death.

Does college get you closer to your goals?

If so, do it.

If not, don't.

It's that simple.

College is not the end-all-be-all to success, and neither is skipping out on it.
^yea. That’s exactly what it took me four hundred words to say. Omg
 

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Looks like your millionaire ego got stroked.

I didn't say @MJ is the only millionaire here. I know that there are many more people here like you, @biophase ,@Kak ,@Vigilante ,@SteveO ,@AllenCrawley ,etc who are also millionaires.(To the best of my knowledge) But, I don't know about their education and their opinion about the importance of it.
Let me put my $0.02 in here. :)

Here is what I believe.

I don't believe that college is useless. But it depends...

COST

The cost of college vs. the starting salary these days makes the return a large risk.

I have a Masters degree in Engineering, which at the time cost about $50,000 for undergrad and $15,000 for my Masters (I had a assistantship for my Masters which paid half the tuition). My starting salary was $35,000. So you are $65k in debt to make $35k (54%).

But today, you are seeing $120k in debt to still make $35k for many majors. For my engineering field, the starting salary is now $55k. $120k in debt to make $55k (45%). So it's still ok, but it's on the cusp of being not worth it. Again, my opinion.

EDUCATION QUALITY

Taking away the cost of tuition, the quality of education is a huge factor. You can go to college for 4 years and learn no actual skills to help you get a job. I remember I was interviewing an ASU grad for a job and asked him if he knew Excel and he answered, "yes, is that the one with the numbers?" WTF???

Look at the 4 year tuition cost and then google the starting salary and then make a decision on if it is worth it.

EDUCATION TYPE

Since I majored in Engineering, alot of things come easy to me. The ease at which I can understand numbers. The way I think through problems. All these skills have helped me in my business life. But I do wonder if I had these skills before college, or if college honed them. I was always a numbers person. Was it worth $65k to find out?

MY ADVICE

I have many friends who have teenage kids and when they ask me my opinion. I tell them, it depends on their financial situation, the cost of the college and the major they've chosen. I try to get them to think about the ROI, the debt on their kid or on them. But this is a hard conversation.

In fact I had this conversation 2 weeks ago. My friend's son wants to go to Stanford. We talked about the cost, which was going to be $350,000. He also understands business and the return on investment. He basically said if his son gets into Stanford, he's going to find a way to pay for it.
 

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For me graduation was the entrance to a job I wanted.
I spent as little time as possible with studyin.
As a side hussle I had 2 things as an entrepreneur.
Now I m sorry about having finished them when I started the job.

I have learned how to design turbines, how to design molded parts, how to design technical things and how to calculate technical things, car parts and so on. It was very interesting and Im sure there were things I needed afterwards.
The main thing I learned was , that dealing with someting makes you an expert. No matter what.
 

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My question was Knowing what he now knows would he graduated in the first place?
No, you said that "MJ is the only person in this forum qualified to give a verdict on this."
I think this is a miscommunication due to ESL.

I think the question he's asking is not if anyone is qualified to answer the general college question, but would I make the same decision to go to college in today's economic climate. That would make me the only person to qualified to answer because it's asking for my opinion specific to me. I don't think he means to say that my opinion is the only relevant answer on it.

My question was Knowing what he now knows would he graduated in the first place?
As to that answer, in today's world I probably would have NOT gone to college, assuming I still wanted to be an entrepreneur. However if I had other interests (engineering, medicine, law, etc) I would probably find a way to go, dependent on cost. And I'd definitely do two 2 years in community college first, not 4 years at a big Div-1 school.
 

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Doctors are indispensable and do a world of good (literally), if you're doing it right.
The medical profession is one of the most heavily indoctrinated by their education, and almost all with whom I have had dealings are scared to step outside the orthodoxy of what they have learned.

Walter
 

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I am not knocking education, but there are different ways to obtain a useful education.

I have been very fortunate to live in an age when even primary education actually taught useful stuff. The state-run primary school I attended from age 6 to 12 taught such things as public speaking.

For example I actually gave my first public lecture to about 200 strangers, most of whom were student teachers from a nearby college. I had to speak for 10 minutes on a history subject, while being allowed only sufficient notes that I could conceal in the palm of my hand.

As I related in my story in the Featured User thread, I spent months in hospital during those primary years with visitors only once a week. I used that time to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and this undoubtedly compensated for my lack of school attendance.

It probably did, because I passed the entrance exam to attend a selective state-run high school, where the range of subjects was far broader than in non-selective schools. I learned Technical Drawing, Music, Geography, English, French, German, Maths 1, Maths 2, Physics and Chemistry, all as separate subjects. I captained the school debating team, edited the school magazine, and acted on stage at a huge public theatre as a member of the school drama club.

Obliged by family poverty to leave school two years before my classmates would, I nevertheless think my education was complete.

A degree is not essential to become a millionaire, but a good education, plus some serendipity helped me.

Walter
 

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