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The definitive answer to whether you should study at university

monfii

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Should you study at university?

It's a recurrent question on this forum. In this post, I'll try to help you out.

#1: What is university?

Strictly speaking, university is the place where you go learn stuff.

In the pre-internet era, universities were convenient as knowledge was transmitted from teachers to students directly. Getting knowledge otherwise was tedious. You had to go to libraries and looked for answers in books by yourself. Google wasn't there to respond to your questions. Udemy didn't exist.

As such, if you hoped to learn, university was the right place to go to. Universities welcomed the most brilliant minds of their time and were at the frontline of innovation.

But times have changed.

Universities no longer have the monopoly on knowledge. So why do they still exist?

Peter Thiel observed that universities broadly fulfilled four different functions and hence could be conceptualized as:
  1. A consumption product: a giant party where you do nothing besides drinking for four years.
  2. An investment product: a way to raise your own quality so that you raise your future salary and can recoup your investment.
  3. An insurance product: going to university will help you get a good job to avoid falling into the cracks of society
  4. An endless competition (what Thiel thinks university actually is): a place where great minds compete to become management consultants and investment bankers instead of changing the world as they had originally intended.
To me, university is a time of your life during which you have the occasion to shape a tool (knowledge and experience) that will help you out in the future.

Is university the only place to get knowledge and experience? Hell no.
Is university the cheapest and best way to get knowledge and experience? Nope.
Is university teaching you things you can only learn there? No (well, depends, more on that below).

However, universities provide you with two big advantages:

1. Professors, which can give you feedback on your work to ensure that you improve the skills you are learning (this can also be acquired through getting customers).
2. A community and a "sandbox": a place where you can test stuff and make mistakes that don't have consequences in the real world.

I'll be honest with you. If you hope to go to university to learn, you will be disappointed. To really learn something nowadays, you have to get into the top universities in the world.

It's the only place where knowledge is worth it. The rest is a waste of time. When it comes to getting knowledge, Google is your best friend.

Here's a list of fourteen places where you can learn valuable knowledge for free, or almost free.

  1. Khan Academy
  2. Udemy
  3. Teachable
  4. Skillshare
  5. Coursera
  6. Edx
  7. Udacity
  8. Codecademy
  9. Simplilearn
  10. W3schools
  11. Lynda (Linkedin)
  12. Youtube
  13. Google Certificates
  14. Amazon Certificates
I am sure there are many more. But universities as knowledge centers are outdated. Companies are now the ones at the frontline of innovation, and they are slowly replacing universities.

You want proof? The great minds of the world have now left academia and are working in the private sector (google "shortage of AI professors").

The decision to go to university depends therefore on what you want to do with your life.

#2. What do you want to do with your life?

Since you are here, we'll have to assume you want to build a fastlane business. Is university mandatory to build a fastlane business? No, unless:

  1. the country you live in requires you to have a university diploma to start a company.
  2. you want to build a fastlane business in sectors where getting a degree is mandatory, like the medical sector, accountancy, law, etc. However, mind that there are ways around it. Sometimes you can do an internship and get the paper you need to get started. Some other times, you can partner up with someone that has the qualification you do not have and split the shares of the company 50/50.
These are the two strongest "technical" reasons for you to go to university.

So let's have a look at why else we'd think you should go there.

Want to learn? No need to go to university as we outlined above.
Want to party? Just move to Europe or Asia for a year. You ll have the benefit to learn a language on top of that.
Want to secure a job? Fewer and fewer companies are looking for employees with diploma because the pace is so fast that what you learned at uni becomes useless one year after you got out. Diplomas only useful when you have no experience. After that, your experience and skillset are what matter most to employers. (Note: it also depends on your culture).
Want to get into debt (lol)? Buy an apartment.
Want to meet people? Join events, masterminds, conferences, forums, do an internship, or travel.
Want to chill for three-four years? Yes! Then going to university might be for you. Study communication, art history, social sciences, or gender studies, it will be easy.

But don't come to complain once no one hires your a$$ afterward.

Conclusion

Am I against universities? No. I am in fact in the fastlane because I want to make enough money to be able to go back to university, and study and write there until I die.

However, I am immensely disappointed in universities because they didn't teach me anything I wouldn't have been able to learn myself. As such, I feel I have wasted five years of my life when I could have taken this time to build a fastlane business instead.

The only positive experience I got was doing an exchange in one of the best universities in the world, where professors tell you about the dinner they had with the prime minister yesterday. That's when I felt getting to the top of society was possible, because these people weren't any more different than I was. They were just harder working, and more confident (nothing I couldn't become myself).

The bottom line is this:
if you want to be rich as fast as possible, skip university.
If you want to learn how to code, skip university. You'll do it better and faster by yourself.
If you want to learn business, just build a business. Studying business is useless (I know, I did it).
If you want to party, skip university (cost isn't worth it).

BUT
If you want to learn STEM, university may be good for you (because it's harder to learn by yourself).
If you want to give yourself some time and test out different stuff, try university (as long as it's not putting you into monstrous debt).
If you feel it's an experience you have to go through, try it. But remain open to the idea of quitting.

What if you don't have a choice?

Sometimes, your parents force you to study and there is nothing you can do against it.

Here's what I would do then:

1. Choose a useful degree, something that gives you an edge, such as the possibility to start companies others can't (real estate, insurance, law to become a notary, or accounting to become an expert-accountant), or something that is giving you great skills to solve problems and start companies (engineering).

2. Go study abroad in a foreign language: it will most likely be cheaper and you will 10X your results. My favorite countries to study in are: Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Poland (don't study in Polish though). Find out how to study in a foreign country here: How to study debt free, expand your mind and gain international experience

Universities were dying before covid hit. The pandemic only accelerated their death.

Don't go there unless you have an actual reason to. I went there because I didn't know what else to do. Had I looked for an answer to that question instead of looking for which useless degree I was going to study, I wouldn't have wasted five years of my life.

Don't make the same mistake.

Monfii


Edit: this post was last edited on the 13/04/21.
 

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sparechange

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David Choe had a funny podcast where he said he went to University by literally just going, thought that was pretty hilarious and with these mask mandates it's easy to hide your identity... might give that a try this summer and sit down in a random class :rofl:

Imagine attending a 6 figure school for free just by walking in :rofl::rofl:
 

monfii

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What if I live in a country where uni is "free" (tax-funded)?

Also, could you please elaborate on

Actually, I wrote this taking into account that uni is free.

In most cases, uni is not teaching you anything and you are better off starting your company asap. Some people retire after 5 years in business. 5 years at uni doesn't bring you much in comparison.


Read this: GOLD! - Golden Nuggets- Tips, processes, & How To's
 

monfii

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Imagine attending a 6 figure school for free just by walking in

I knew a dude that regularly attended classes from a different bachelor than his. Why woulndt you? All the timetable are online.

This is the proof that you are not paying for knowledge. You are paying to pass the exam to get the paper so you can get a job.

Why would you spend 5 years of your life doing something to get a job if you dont want to get a job????
 

mr4ffe

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Why would you spend 5 years of your life doing something to get a job if you dont want to get a job????
In most cases, uni is not teaching you anything and you are better off starting your company asap. Some people retire after 5 years in business. 5 years at uni doesn't bring you much in comparison.
How do you otherwise recommend acquiring skills that could provide value for others? Reading? Following video tutorials? Is that really better than uni? Should I really start a business if I don't even know what skills I possess that can add value to other people? Should I really start a random business that doesn't follow the CENTS commandments?
 

sparechange

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How do you otherwise recommend acquiring skills that could provide value for others? Reading? Following video tutorials? Is that really better than uni? Should I really start a business if I don't even know what skills I possess that can add value to other people? Should I really start a random business that doesn't follow the CENTS commandments?

No one on this forum had any skills when they started a business, it's something you learn along the way.. I'd even say someone like Mark Cuban doesn't know everything and is still learning new things. I watched a podcast with him where he mentioned learning about NFTs, the guy is in his 60's and is STILL learning ... even though he is already a multi billionaire.

Do you know how a bird learns how to fly?

Their parents literally grab them by the neck and drop them mid flight and that's when they learn how to fly.

The same applies to business, except you don't need to risk death but maybe a few hundred dollars.
 
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monfii

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How do you otherwise recommend acquiring skills that could provide value for others? Reading? Following video tutorials? Is that really better than uni? Should I really start a business if I don't even know what skills I possess that can add value to other people? Should I really start a random business that doesn't follow the CENTS commandments?


Dr Strange - How do I go from here to there?
The ancient one - How did you become a surgeon?
Dr. Strange - Study and practice.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Great post, thank you for sharing -- almost missed it.

A lot has changed since I went to college, and in today's environment, I doubt I would have gone. Knowledge and resources are just too widely available. Of course, this opinion is based on US culture and cost, I'm sure in other countries where the education is free, the answer might be different.
 

Kak

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College is an elevated indoctrination camp. There are two kinds of people. People that will learn on their own and people that need their hand held.

Hand holders need school. They blindly obey. They aren't people. They are an empty shell.

Real people don't.

Be a real person. Raise real people.

My son is not going to "school" (noun) of any kind. We will home school (verb) him and do what we can to tee up opportunity for him. Unless of course he desires to be a doctor or lawyer or something that professionally requires school, the noun.
 

socaldude

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My parents still think they’re handing out careers and that we are in a booming economy. My parents still think “I do nothing”. I never used my degree. My parents still don’t know what I do or what my net worth is. I’m not interested in proving anything and frankly have better things to do in my own little dimension.

University in the US is too inefficient and corrupt. They just want all that easy money for real estate and rankings.
 

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loop101

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The US Government generally requires contractors have college degrees, this creates an artificial demand for them, and ensures people that take out Government backed student-loans have a good job waiting for them when they graduate. It creates a two-tier society, and keeps everyone in debt. Big companies not doing Government contracting have typically mirrored whatever the Government was doing, adding to the demand for degrees.

Nowadays companies often mirror Microsoft, or some other giant corporation. When Google and Apple stopped requiring degrees, that made it acceptable for a lot more companies to do the same. I expect we will eventually see companies offering degrees. Walmart already has a deal with a for-profit college, and WGU (non-profit) is a partner with Amazon for their Cloud Computing degree.

I would still tell people that if they are going to work for someone else, get a degree. It allows you to work for more companies, negotiate a higher salary, and get to do more interesting work. This is unfortuneate, it is changing, but it is still mostly true.
 

PapaGang

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College saved my life.

It was the 90's, I flunked out the first time, got lost, held a shit job for 5 years, and was in a pretty dark place, with almost no options. I worked up the courage to go back on academic probation as a hail Mary. I ended up graduating with honors, which was the first time I really succeeded on my own at anything. It served as a point of pride for me for years because before that I had accomplished nothing.

I found myself surrounded by Greek philosophy, art, science, geology, famous literary works, and had many of my ideas and assumptions challenged. Healthy debates, probing questions, curious experiments were made. Here, I was given the time to experiment, to create, to formulate ideas and really absorb the wisdom of the ancients as well as the giants of industry.

It taught me critical thinking skills, it taught me how to research facts, it introduced me to people who became mentors, and I became friends with people who were young and excited about changing the world for the better.

For me, it offered a way out of the low service industry wages and manual labor.

College now? I would say people should go if they plan on going into any STEM field.

Otherwise, I'm not so sure. It seems that college has now been sold as an extended adolescent period where the solution to all problems is to protest them and learn to be resentful to those who have what you lack, instead of seeking to figure out how they got what you want.

Great universities are at a crisis point and need to reevaluate the value they provide. I actually love universities and what they used to stand for. It was the one place for intellectual, physical and practical growth. It literally stood as the place where one would go to better themselves, and in turn, better society.
 

Djioul

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Very interesting topic.

The world has evolved so much during the last 20 years and is still evolving very fast. Unfortunately, I think that the education system might be the only thing which didn't really evolve for the last 70 years (I mean, significant evolution). I have the feeling that it is the case in France but also in many other countries.

The teaching methods are obsolete and not in line with the recent findings on how learning should be done. Instead of trully making changes, there are discussions coming every 5 years (during elections, only to get votes) on wether kids should go 4 days or 5 days per week to school, how very little kids should learn how to read (which is far from being the biggest problem), remove the learning of a second foreign language (so French people will be even worse speaking others languages than what we are today) and deny classes held in English in standard Uni courses (in order to promote our beautiful language no one, except French-speaking countries, wants to speak anymore).

To me, you shouldn't expect to much from schools and universities. I learned it the hard way and it struck me last year.
I see school and university as a tool for social integration (with its advantages & drawbacks) and also a chance for some people who might be lost and looking for a structure to support them.

Still, we are very few people aware of what is extremely well explained in UNSCRIPTED .
I heard the other day a friend from my wife who was upset against the school our kids go at, because the teachers do not take enough time to educate our kids... Come on...
As long as this kind of mentality will still be in our society, things won't drastically change.
 

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