Anyone who knows me really well knows that I’ve always had my reservations against university education. When I was younger, about 4 or 5 years old, I wanted to be a pilot. Grew up a little bit and shifted to wanting to become a scientist, I didn’t know what kind but just a scientist in general. Turning 14/15, I decided I’ll be a computer scientist. I knew that this would take a lot of effort in school to get me into university and I was ready to pay the price.
Fast forward and I got into university doing Computer Technology. It was exciting at first, but eventually, I started questioning everything. I saw that everything being taught in school I could learn online. That’s what we did anyway, lecturers were pretty much useless to me since they didn’t quite help us understand the core concepts. Couple this with the heavily theoretic method they used to instruct us. It was shocking that when we’re learning how to maintain a computer, we’re given a dead computer to maintain. What’s the logic behind that? How will you know you did the right thing if you have no way of testing. Among the only units that I appreciated the practical approach was programming, well, because you can do it from anywhere as long as you have access to a computer.
Do you need to go to university? The short answer is no. The long answer is, it depends. I know that’s not what you’re looking for, but there’s no hard and fast way to determine whether a university education is for you. Take, for example, medicine, there’s no other way to become a doctor, a surgeon, a dentist unless you go to university. That’s just how it is. Some courses cannot be learned in any other way. If you want to become a lawyer, you have to go to law school and to go to law school, you have to go to university. That’s just how it is and there are no shortcuts to it.
If you look at a majority of computing and art-based courses, you can literally learn everything yourself. With the rate at which the internet is growing, there’s more information online than you could ever learn in school. If you take a look at something like software engineering, a degree or diploma would be nice, but can you learn all the concepts taught in school online? Yes, of course, you can. There are hundreds of thousands of free material online and on YouTube that you can use as instructional material to learn all you need. Courses like film making, photography, journalism, do you really need to go to university for those? I would say no.
Another thing that makes university education less attractive to me is the curriculum and instructional method. As mentioned earlier, so many universities, especially here in Kenya, I don’t know about the rest of the world, take a theoretic approach to the studies. This produces half baked graduates, so much so that when they join the job market, they have to be retrained all over again. If they have to be retrained, what was the point of spending all that time and money in university?
The problem with most people who ask the question, do you need a university education is, it is very likely that they’ve been intoxicated with visions of grandeur after seeing success stories from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Both of them dropped out of university and both are now billionaires. If your reasons for not pursuing a university education are based on ideas that you can start a company and become a billionaire, then you’re gravely mistaken. For every one such success story, there are hundreds of thousands of others who failed miserably and are now regretting their decision.
The right reasons for not pursuing a university education should be based on facts you’ve gathered about yourself and about your life. You need to have a clearly defined plan and vision of what you want to do and how you will do it. You must be dedicated and disciplined in pursuing your endeavours as it is so easy to procrastinate when you don’t have deadlines to worry about, as is the case with most university materials. You need to realize that you’re going to have to drive yourself and push yourself without being told. It’s not easy for many people to do this so if you’re intent on not going to university, you must fully commit to your goal and pursue it with everything you’ve got.
In spite of all my reservations against university education, if you have the means to attend university and nothing to lose, then, by all means, go right ahead and enrol in a university. The good thing about university is that it’s basically a place where you can discover and find yourself. You can try out very many things and interact with very many kinds of people. Most people form life long bonds with the friends they meet at universities. These are the people who will be there for most of the rest of your life. It’s also a place where you can form connections with people who can help you a lot later in life. You can’t really know who people you’re studying with will be in future. Now, one might argue that you can gain the same without going to university and they would be right. However, the university just accelerates the process and makes things that much faster.
So, do you really need a university education? Well, as I said, the long answer is, it depends. It, however, does not depend on what I’ve written here, it mostly depends on you. I don’t think that whatever I’ve written here has the power to change your mind, I believe it should just be a pointer that whether or not you go to university, you can still be successful and happy in life. Don’t be afraid, follow your heart’s desire with passion and you will likely end up feeling more satisfied with the results. It is better to try and fail than to always wonder.