Why School Doesn’t Prepare You for Life

The other day my friend and fellow blogger Sean Davis brought up a topic in a forum that I’m in about the value of formal education.  As you can probably imagine I had some strong opinions on this.  Unless you’re planning on becoming a doctor, lawyer or something that actually requires professional training, I think the value of formal education is highly questionable.

It Limits your Options

I know I’m going to get a bit of flack for this one. Supposedly getting an education increases your options. But I think it does the exact opposite by filling your head with preconceived notions of what it’s possible to do with your life.  You have a certain number of subjects you can study. So you choose what whatever you think will get you a job or get you into grad school. If you haven’t seen the movie Accepted, I’ve included a clip below that will probably make you laugh so hard you’ll  feel like calling your alma mater and asking for a refund.

It’s full of People With Questionable Credentials

The other day I was visiting a relative who is getting a PHD. It turns out he was teaching a class called introduction to entrepreneurship even though he’s never started a business. Sadly, this is probably not an isolated case. Universities are full of people teaching students about subjects they have no hands on experience with.
Many new traders quit intraday trading because they are not able to be profitable. It is important that you start day trading with a trading plan and this will help you to tap the many opportunities that the stock market has to offer to you. My explanation to this is fairly simple.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to learn how to write from a published author than somebody who has a PHD in English? When a brilliant writer like Ashely Ambirge doesn’t get A’s in her college English class, we need to take a step back and question whether the people teaching us how to write have any business doing so.

In real life we’d never take advice from a  homeless guy on how to get rich, but in school we seem to have no problem doing this.

It encourages conformity

This is the greatest downfall of school. Unfortunately schools don’t really even have a framework in place that allows you to challenge the status quo. There’s only one real path

  • Pick a major
  • Get a job/apply to grad school

The funny thing is that this is not a choice that most of even made on our own. From an early age we’re influenced by the hidden dangers of other people’s expectations.  Conformity doesn’t result in the creation of leaders and visionaries.

It doesn’t provide any practical skills

I’m amazed that colleges don’t offer a personal finance class to  all students. What the hell is the point in learning how to manage somebody else’s money through classes in accounting and finance when you don’t have any idea how to manage your own?  There’s no class titled “finding your passion 101” at any college in America. But if there was how many more satisfied workers would we send into the work force?

The Cost Outweighs the benefit

The cost of education is something that needs to be examined closely.  Is it really worth it? It turns out that most of the classes I took at Berkeley are now available via iTunes and they don’t cost a dime.  To add that I can give myself and education that kicks the crap out  of the one I got in school.  But people are buried in student loan debt which takes years to pay off and forced into jobs they hate so they can pay off their loans.

The Service Sucks

In that same movie Lewis Black actually makes a very smart point. He says “college is a service industry.” If you paid 150 grand for a hotel-stay or anything else, wouldn’t you expect the service to be world class? Would you tolerate less than the stellar service from anybody you spent that kind of money with? Then why on earth do we seem ok, with doing that in education?   Educational institutions to step up their game and start acting like a service industry that gives a shit about its customers before there is a mass exodus.

The other day I thought about what the course catalog for school might look like if it did prepare you for life:

  • Personal Finance 101: How to Manage Your Money, Stay Debt Free, and  Still Buy All The Things You Want
  • Social Studies 101: How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • How to Find Your Passion 101: The Path to a Fulfilling Life and Career
  • Cash in on that Passion 102: Turning Your Passion into a Profitable Empire
  • Romance and Relationships 101: How to Meet, attract, and make the man/woman of your dreams fall in love with you.

I even asked a few friends on Facebook what they thought it might look like if school did prepare them for life

  • Practicality 101: How to Change a Tire
  • Neuroscience: Managing Your Brain for Optimal Performance

These are things you never learn in school, but they’re ALL essential to your success in life.  (maybe not changing a tire)

The internet is the big equalizer and it’s going to force educators to face the obvious truth. It’s a system in need of serious reform.