I refuse to encourage any of my children to go to varsity. I’m pretty sure I want to home school so at least I have that argument sorted. Most people think I’m crazy.
I’m black, female and the second generation to get a college education and a master’s degree, so I’m supposed to say how awesome it is that I now have equal rights and I want my children to take advantage of all this amazing education so they can live in different continents like I do.
I have studied in South Africa and the USA and as far as I can see varsity is a royal waste of time and money. Why?
1. The system ignores the outliers or the lost souls
I’ve always been a straight A student (even in business school). But when I graduated from high school I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do with my life.
So, I told my teachers and my family I wanted to be a bum - smoke weed and lie on the beach contemplating life.
My mom was horrified, so she kicked me out of the house, which is the only reason I went to varsity - the perfect place to smoke weed and chill on the beach.
I graduated with a finance honors degree, went to work as a mining and energy analyst for a year and quit to go traveling.
Because I had absolutely no clue what I really wanted to do with my life. But I didn’t know how to verbalize this because the education system focused on grooming me for a job, not living a life I'd be proud of.
2. University prepares you for a job & doesn't teach innovation
In 2012 I was invited to talk at a conference for young girls (grade 10 to 12) about managing their finances.
All the CEOs of the top companies went up on stage and spoke about how important a university degree is.
I spoke about my student loans, the honor of looking for a job during a recession and the nervous excitement of being an entrepreneur - starving for days and walking in the snow in Boston, MA for hours to get to a meetings because I had no money for transport.
When I asked the girls why they wanted to go to university, more than half of them responded with: job security.
So I told them the truth, that job security in today’s world is an illusion.
According to the International Labor Organization Gen Y’s biggest threat globally, is unemployment, with over 75 million young people unemployed and stats increasing every year.
The education system is ignoring the stats, instead they prep graduates for jobs. Not one of these girls’ teachers told them that their future success depended on their ability to innovate and create value for others.
3. Schooling didn’t teach me how to adult or do life
From the time we enter school we’re taught the importance of intellectual intelligence (IQ). But research by Daniel Goleman has shown that emotionally intelligent people make more effective leaders and entrepreneurs.
Emotionally intelligent people are also socially adapt, which is very important when it comes to networking and building relationships.
Because as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book, “The Tipping Point”, networks are an important factor in success.
4. The education system doesn’t teach self-awareness
Susan Cain, in her TED talk argues that education system and the workplace is group work crazy and ignores the value of working in isolation and focusing on becoming self-aware.
We believe that the man (or woman) who can talk loudest is often the most confident and has the most to offer society.
I'd argue that the man who is emotionally intelligent and knows how to help others uncover their greatness has the most to offer society.
But to become emotionally intelligent, one has to be self-aware and understand themselves better and that can only happen in isolation.
Schools don’t teach how to become self-aware.
5. Life is practical, not academic
Before becoming an entrepreneur I took a business planning course in business school and spent a whole year planning the perfect business so that success was guaranteed.
When it came time to take action, I was shocked by how wildly different being an entrepreneur looked in reality than it did on paper.
On paper, I was supposed to be selling my business now, 4 years later. In reality, my business is only just taking off.
On paper, I was supposed to get funding and get paid by my business. In reality, I’ve spent almost every penny paying business expenses and doing other jobs, like speaking and writing a book, to make money and live.
In short varsity can only teach you theory but it can’t teach you courage, persistence or integrity. Only life and experience can teach you those things.
Isn't it time we redefined the purpose of university for Generation Y?