Tech Culture vs Universities

  1. University Education is too expensive for what you get
  2. You won’t learn what you need to start your own company / be successful in a startup

Expensive University Education

  1. Tuition Costs
  2. Opportunity Costs
  • Tuition averaged >10.000 USD (public) and >36.000 USD (private) (only tuition) in the US in 2019/2020 per year [1].
  • Tuition can be much higher for high end universities

…the problem of tuition cost is rather a local bias of the US and not an such a big problem in most other countries…

University does not teach you the necessary skills

If you drop out of college, you still went to college.

  1. If you drop out of college, you still went to college you just did not complete your curriculum. But your time at college almost certainly had an impact on that idea you dropped out for.
  2. It is pretty much the example case of survivorship bias. Yes there are successful founders that did not attend college but this says nothing without comparing it to the number of founders who failed and putting it in perspective to the relation of successful graduate founders. Also the pure existence of a success case doesn’t mean it is the ideal way for that success.
  3. Correlation does not equal causation. Just because two attributes occur at the same time does not mean that one is the reason for others. Close to 100% of successful startup founders ate bread during their youth, still no one goes around telling everyone they have to eat bread to successfully found a startup.

Opportunity Costs

  1. Learn on their own
    Learning on your own is a good option. There are a lot of offers online by now that help with self guided learning for technical skills. There are tons of books and material out there and costs might be lower than university. However there are a couple of drawbacks. First of all online programs are usually much more short term focussed and focus on tools “learn java script in x months” rather than concepts — depending on your goals this might not necessarily be a drawback. In addition not everyone is learning in the same way. There are different types of learners and a fully self guided form of learning might not work for a lot of people who lack motivation, are easy to distract or simply do not fully know what they want to do yet. Of course you will also not get a diploma (yes i know its BS, and shouldn’t really matter but the reality is it still does due to lack of a signalling replacement). And after all nothing prevents you from learning on your own in addition to attending a university.
  2. Start working for a company
    You will rarely get the opportunity to get a job in the same field that you wanted to study for. Few positions are filled only based on soft criteria or personality characteristics, and even for positions where hiring managers mostly rely on these over diplomas and hard skills (like its often the case for startups) someone without anything on their CV is unlikely to pass any initial screening.
  3. Start your own company
    Depending on the business this is rarely a good option unless (1) happened before. Building a company requires skills that are in demand. The basic education that school provides does usually not provide these skills nor do most people right after school have the life experience to assess business coherences sufficiently. If you do it as part of option 1, you could do it as part of your university studies as well.

University is a good investment for most people

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