“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” – Albert Einstein
Okay, the headline to this blog post is misleading – education is not overrated. But I do think formal education is overrated – way overrated.
I’m a fanatic student of human development and success, and one of the things I’ve discovered is that success (whatever it means to you) is based on you and only you – not certificates and pieces of paper hanging on the wall. These are merely tools to help you get where you want to go. Don’t ever think that they are more than that, they’re just tools.
I’ve seen so many people who have issues or complexes because of their “lack of education”. They’ve put themselves in a loser’s mindset. This was probably caused by their parents or peers.
Look, there are tons and tons of examples of people who were successful who never had university degrees. Want proof? How about $508.2 billion worth of proof? I’m talking about the Forbes 400, the richest 400 people in the world, who have total net worth of $1.54 trillion, yes TRILLION. Fully one third of those guys do not have university degrees. Did you get that? You don’t even need a degree to become a billionaire, let alone a millionaire.
In fact, those Forbes 400 members who did not have degrees were on average $140 million richer than their educated peers, interesting huh?
Let me use myself as an example (I’m not in the Forbes 400 🙂 ) I’m one of those highly educated people. I’m educated to masters degree level, and last time I checked, I had 19 initials after my name. I probably have more certificates than a certificate salesman. But to be honest I consider myself a self-educated person. Most of my real knowledge came from books I read after I finished univeristy.
The way I see it, who the heck gave some sort of college or academy the right to decide whether I’m educated? A university course just consists of a lecturer summarising a couple of books. Often times this lecturer is so far removed from the real world he should not be teaching at all. You might as well save yourself the $20,000 per year and just buy the books and read them yourself. Who the heck certified the certifier?
Let me go back to the Forbes 400 members who don’t have degrees. The way I see it, every one of those people is extremely educated. Ain’t no illiterate gonna become a billionaire. But they are self-educated. They probably have more knowledge than 2 or 3 university professors combined, but they realised they don’t need the pieces of paper on the wall to prove it to anyone. They just got on with it. Get my point?
So does that mean one should not get a university degree? No, that’s not what I’m saying. If you feel you really want it, get it. Or if you want to work in a certain profession, like a doctor, engineer or lawyer, then by law you must have it. But don’t ever think that it’s the key to success and happiness in life. There are a lot of frustrated and broke PhD’s out there.
If my kids were to tell me when they’re older that they don’t want to go to university, I’d be okay with it. I would prefer it if they went, but knowing what I know, and having discovered some of life’s success secrets, I’d leave the decision up to them. But I would make sure they understood the consequences of not going. I would also explain the fun and excitement they would miss out on, as the university days are really fun. It’s where some of your best friendships are formed.
Life, my friend, is a marathon, not a sprint. In a 42 km marathon, whether you’re the guy in front or in the back makes little difference over the long term. Same thing with a degree, if you have one it does give you a slight advantage in the beginning, but the rest is up to your efforts. What you get out of your life is directly proportional to what you put into it.
In life you should use as many tools as possible to become successful, and a university degree is a tool you could use, nothing more, nothing less. But in order to become successful (again, you have to define success for yourself) you must educate yourself all the time. Read, read read! The best books are the ones written by successful people in their field, not those written by academics. They’re usually dry and boring.
Let me end this blog with a few more Einstein quotes:
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
“Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.”
That’s all for today. Look forward to seeing your comments.