Every year, millions of students make a decision they are likely to regret: studying at university believing education is the best way out of poverty.
The truth is that very few of us were adequately prepared when we enrolled in university. Few really knew what they wanted to do. Less even knew what they could do. And literally, no one knew what they should do.
We were all told to find “something that we love”. How can you find what you love when you’re 18 with no world knowledge nor life experience?
So, a new breed of educators came in for help: orientation counselors. They assigned education paths to graduates with as much style as my grandma giving out food to pigeons.
And so, like a cowherd about to get slaughtered, students lined up at the faculty entrance after being told that majoring in economics, or whatever else, “would suit them”.
I was one of these students. And like most of them, I thoroughly regret my decision.
Universities Have Become Useless
The main problem of university is that it no longer fulfills its duty to educate the population and prepare them for a job.
So, what is it exactly that they do?
When I asked my dad, a retired university professor, he said: “They make sure that not too many people arrive at the same time on the job market”.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder, and venture capitalist noticed universities were conceptualized in four different ways:
- A four-year party.
- An insurance policy: a diploma ensures you have a job for your entire life.
- A zero-sum game tournament: to quote Thiel, university is the place where people who had big plans in high school get stuck in fierce rivalries with equally smart peers over conventional careers like management consulting and investment banking.
- An investment product. Students go to university to raise their value and earn more in their career than if they hadn’t.
While Thiel believes number 3 is what universities have become, number 4 should be their main function. But it’s not. Not anymore at least. Number 4 is a lie.
Education is the best way out of poverty, is it really?
It’s no secret that employers no longer trust universities to prepare students for the corporate world.
The only thing that matters nowadays is not what you studied — it’s what you can do.
When I was looking for a job, I was amazed at the number of companies that advertised “BSc in xyz or equivalent experience”.
The most important list of requirements was by far the list of skills one had acquired.
Not only did he find a job faster than I did with my two MSc, but he is also earning much more than I do.
The Only Thing That Matters Is Skills
The world is only getting more competitive. Companies no longer have money to waste on people that can’t do anything. If you want to find a job in 2021, all I can advise is to learn something valuable, be it at university, or outside.
What does that mean?
- A degree in history isn’t valuable.
- A degree in political science isn’t valuable.
- And a degree in gender studies is, out of all of them, the least valuable.
I have a BSc in communication. It means that I have the degree that people that failed business school got instead (yes, I failed business school). That degree did not help me getting a job. In fact, it often prevented me from getting one.
After sending hundreds of job applications, I noticed a clear difference in the number of interviews proposals for the applications where I hadn’t mentioned my Bsc. Unless you have a Ph.D. in the topic, communication screams “DUMB” on your resume.
Better hiding it than leaving it.
It’s to that point.
Think About The Goal of Knowledge
You can’t do what you love in this economy. You have to do something that others love so they give you their money.
This fact further appears in the so-called creator economy. How many creators live off their creations?
And when they do, they often work 12 hours a day 7 days a week — while they could be building a multi-million dollar startup with such a schedule.
On the other hand, how many software engineers struggle to find a job?
Not nearly as much as people with gender studies degrees.
That’s because software engineers have valuable skills. Gender studies graduates do not.
Looking at both the business and the education world, I wouldn’t go to university if I was 18 in 2021.
I’d follow a Codecademy track and get a job as a dev, earn a comfy salary and invest in my own business ideas.
Unfortunately, this isn’t what I did.
I wasted five years of my life at university to learn nothing.
Worse, to get a degree that makes me look like an idiot.
So beware of what you study.
What really matters in this world is skills.
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