- University is a good option to choose if you don’t know what you want to do with your life and want to think and try different stuff.
- University is a good option if you want to work in the STEM field later.
- Don’t go to university if you can learn the bachelor’s online by yourself.
- The best way to study is to move to a foreign country and study in a foreign language.
#1: What Is University?
Theoretically, a university is the place where you go learn skills to get a job later.
Practically, it’s no longer the case.
In the pre-internet era, universities were convenient because knowledge wasn’t as accessible as it is now.
If you wanted to learn something, you had to borrow books from the library or ask someone to teach you.
But times have changed.
Universities no longer have the monopoly on knowledge. Now, you can teach yourself code on the Internet in a year or two (for free), and go get a job anywhere in the world as a result.
So why do universities still exist?
Peter Thiel observed that students traditionally go to universities for four different reasons.
- They want to party for three years: university is a consumption product.
- They want to raise their skills to earn more money in the future: university is an investment product.
- They think going to university will help them get a good job to avoid being poor: univesity is an insurance product.
- They go to university to compete for management consultant and investment banker positions instead of changing the world as they had originally intended: university is just endless competition (what Thiel thinks university actually is).
To me, university is a period of your life during which you have the occasion to sharpen yourself by gaining knowledge and experience so that you become highly valuable later.
- Is university the only place where you can get knowledge and experience? No.
- Is university the cheapest and best way to get knowledge and experience? No.
- Is university teaching you things you can only learn there? If you want to become a lawyer, doctor, accountant, banker, or an engineer (except for software engineers), yes. If not, no.
As we can see, universities aren’t as valuable as they were.
However, they still present you with two advantages.
1. Professors: they can give you feedback, advice, and mentorship.
2. A “sandbox”: a sandbox is a place where you can test stuff and make mistakes that don’t have consequences in the real world. Many young people go to university and end up creating a product they test with their fellow students. If the product works, they build a company and become rich.
I’ll be honest with you.
If you want to go to university to learn stuff, you will be disappointed.
To really learn something nowadays, you have to get into the top universities in the world (Ivy league, Oxbridge, Singapore, Switzerland).
It’s the only place where knowledge is worth it. The rest is a waste of time.
The best way to get knowledge nowadays is not by going to university. It is by learning by yourself online.
Here’s a list of fourteen places where you can learn valuable stuff for free, or almost free.
- Khan Academy
- Lynda (Linkedin)
- Google Certificates
- Amazon Certificates
I am sure there are many more.
Universities no longer fulfill their original mission, which was to transmit knowledge. Quite the opposite!
They are no longer at the forefront of innovation. Companies are.
The great minds of the world left academia and are working in the private sector.
Google and Amazon have established their own universities and are no longer requiring their employees to obtain university diplomas.
Going to uni or not depends on one question only: what do you want to do with your life?
#2: What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?
Do you want a nice job, and a cool, relaxed life?
Then make sure you learn something valuable (engineering, marketing, design), at university or outside of it (doesn’t really matter), get a job and voila.
Do you want to make a sh*t loads of money?
Then you’ll have to build your own company.
Is university mandatory to build a business or become a freelancer?
In theory, no, unless:
- The country you live in requires you to have a university diploma to start a company (like in Belgium).
- You want to build a business for which a diploma is obligatory (finance, accounting, law, medical sector, etc).
Now, there are always ways around it. If you want to build an insurance company, all you need is to associate yourself with someone legally allowed to do so. No need to have the diploma yourself.
Let’s explore other reasons why you think you’d need to go to university.
Want to party? Just move to Europe or Asia for a year. Backpacking > university.
Want to meet people? Join events, masterminds, conferences, forums, do an internship, or travel.
Want to chill for three-four years or wait to “mature” a bit? Then going to university is a good option.
Am I against universities? No.
My dream is to go back to university, do a Ph.D. in economics, and spend the rest of my life writing and teaching.
However, I am immensely disappointed in universities because they didn’t teach me anything.
I have wasted five years learning nothing when I could have taken this time to build a business or read books instead.
The only positive experience I got was doing an exchange in one of the best universities in the world, where professors dine with the prime minister. That changed my life, but this a story for another time.
The bottom line is:
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 did it).
If you want to party, skip university (the cost isn’t worth it).
If you want to learn STEM, university is a good option.
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 want to improve your social skills and network, go to university.
If you want to gain international experience, learn a new language, and study for free, go to university in a foreign country.
Whatever you do, don’t go to university just because everyone is going there.
Traveling or working is much better as you gain more experience faster.
Universities were dying before the virus hit. The pandemic only accelerated their death.
You’ve been warned.
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