University vs real life experience. The delicate and complex debate that has been around for years! Here's my take on it.
*Puts on metal armour preparing for criticism*
Okay don't worry I'm not going to roast anyone, however this is a topic I am often asked about, and to be honest most times I just hold my tongue because it's not worth going into. #Politics. However, I was asked in an interview this week and I thought I should voice my opinion because my feelings aside, this may be useful for someone that is trying to decide.
Before I get started, it's worth noting that I am an entrepreneur and I did not do a degree (aside from one term which cost me $2000... anyway!) so I am naturally biased against it. But let's lay it all out.
You have to know why you're there.
When I get asked about this topic but I don't want to delve deeper, this is the main thing I say because it's the most important. If you know where you want to go, or you know what job you want, and to get there you need a degree, then go for it. It's a great fit for you. I applaud you for chasing your goals and actually taking actionable steps towards it.
If you are at university, and either
a) don't know why you're there
b) simply go just to say you're at uni
c) go just because it's 'something to do',
DROP OUT RIGHT NOW. You just don't have as much time as you think, and if you don't even know why you're at university you are wasting 4+ years of your life and racking up a 5 figure debt (which you can't even declare bankruptcy to get out of!). Attending a college with no clear reason is an incredibly expensive and time consuming mistake. It's also a totally avoidable mistake.
The people that get most offended by statements like this are the ones who know it might be true. Just know I'm not trying to offend anybody, I'm trying to help people believe in themselves instead of a system that teaches you to be an employee in something you might not even like (or else you would know why you're there!).
The education system is outdated.
No matter which side you are on, there is no denying that university is outdated. The world has changed radically over the past decade, yet the education system has not caught up. This is not the fault of the universities, it is incredibly hard to keep up at this pace, to be honest it's borderline impossible for certain industries and areas of expertise. For example marketing and social media - by the time they incorporate things like Snapchat into a course, it is already gone. What's happening today is gone tomorrow, it's just too fast, and it would probably be unreasonable to expect universities to keep up with the market.
Before the 2000's it used to be a simple plan for your career. You went to school, graduated, went to university (which was at least free), got a degree and then took a job for the majority of your working life. Things do not work like this anymore. The world is fast, and the economy is doing much more project-based and contracted work for 12 - 24 month periods as opposed to 40 years of a stable job. And that's the point. A 'stable' job is no longer stable. Technology and the economy is advancing so much faster than the educational system.
Real life experience vs theory.
Building on my point about the rapid pace of changing environments, colleges just cannot stay up to date and incorporate with what's going on in the world in real time. The world is changing to results driven jobs. If you were hiring someone and had to choose between someone with a degree, or someone with 4 years of real world experience and a track record, which would you choose? I know which one I would pick, and more often than not most others will also choose the one who can deliver results (depending on the industry).
This part is just straight up backwards...
Okay this is something that honestly does not make sense in my head. Perhaps it's because I am used to taking large risks and just going for things. Here's what I don't get:
People will happily hand over 4 years and $40,000 for a degree, but they won't invest 1 year and $2000 into a business.
This is absolute madness to me. I literally had someone on Quora ask me if they should go to uni or spend the $2000 they had on a startup. Look, I understand that you might be scared of failure and to be honest you probably will. However! I want you to fail! And I want you to lose every cent of that $2000, because the knowledge you will gain is worth $100,000+. That will be the absolute best $2000 you have ever spent in your life and in that short period of time you will learn years worth of not only university content, but also life experience. Don't be scared of failure, it's how we evolve. Just go for it.
If you're not convinced, check out my article '5 Reasons Failure is Good' here.
If you don't go to uni, don't do nothing.
If you decide not go to uni, good for you! I'm excited for you to experience the real world. But if you just sit on the couch playing video games then you're an idiot and you have terrible work ethic that won't get you anywhere. Ever. At least the people actually doing uni are working, if you decide not to attend but instead just do nothing, you're lazy and you suck. I dislike people that do this.
Make your own decision.
I'm going to end this article where I started. Make your own decision, don't worry about what others think, even if your parents want you to. Do what makes you happy.
And if you're considering university, just know why. If you want to study law, medicine or other industries that require higher education then go for it. But just know that universities teach you how to be an employee. So if you want to do your own thing and be your own boss, it may not be for you. Oh and also, if you want to be an entrepreneur or do business, don't go to uni. You will learn useful information in that course, but it comes at a biiiiiiiiig cost. In the real world you will learn it all and 10x more just by physically doing it, except by 25 you'll be a machine and you won't have a massive school loan. A 'diploma of entrepreneurship' is like the most ironic thing in the world to me. Anyway...
I am not by any means successful, but I have self educated myself which allowed me to start businesses at 16, save $100,000 before 20, found a tech company before 21, create powerful partnerships, be on live television, network with some powerful people and most importantly, LEARN years and years worth of experience crammed into a short amount of time. I am not saying this to brag, there's an endless list of 21 year olds who have done so much more than what I have. But I am saying this to show what can be done if you just jump into the real world and believe in yourself. Go for it :)
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That's my opinion on university, I encourage you to make your own decision based on how you feel, not how I or anyone else feels. It all comes down to your life goals and where you want to go. So good luck and all the best!
Twitter & Snapchat: mitchills