Is university a waste of time?

Hi I’m Toby and welcome to another video
where I’m just going to share some of my thoughts with you and today I want to
talk about the idea of whether or not university, or college as it’s often
called in the US, should be considered a waste of time. Now I think University
certainly can be a waste of time for some people and it’s going to depend on
what you’re hoping to get out of it and also your attitude and your I guess
learning style once you’re there. So if you are wanting to go to university
because you want to gain the information from lectures, you want to be lectured to
and you think that’s the only way to gain information, then you’re probably
wrong and maybe university will be a waste of time for you because it’s
certainly true that more and more nowadays you can get information for
free online. You can get quality lecture notes, basically lesson plans, textbooks
reading material all online mostly for free so I think that the main value
proposition of going to university whilst maybe it used to be that it was
the only place or the main place you could access quality knowledge, I don’t
think that’s any longer true and universities do still have value but
it’s not just to be a provider of information and it’s not just to be a
source to get lecture notes from. I think that universities themselves are even
starting to recognize that they need to kind of change their business models and
change their main value proposition and their marketing to recognize the fact
that they can offer so much more than just providing information and they need
to to stay competitive and to continue to attract students or else they’ll just
completely go out of fashion. So what else can a university offer you that
would make it not a waste of time? Well if you’re a really active learner I
guess so you’re not just passively going to
lectures and sitting there and then leaving when you’ve done what you need
to do but instead you do things that nobody tells you you need to do. So you
engage with extracurricular activities and all that kind of stuff at
universities, that can be a much more enriching experience for you and I think
the main value of the university really is the ability to learn alongside your
fellow students who are at a similar level and have the same interests as you.
To learn alongside them, to work with them, get ideas from each other and get
experience working on problems in the field of your interest with other people
is extremely valuable and that is something that I got out of going to
university. It’s not just your fellow students that would give value to your
learning but the ability to learn from your lecturers and professors and get
advice and help from them. They’re experts in the field that you want to go
into, even just getting life advice and mentoring from them is something that’s
extremely valuable but also getting their help on problems that you think
are especially tricky and wouldn’t otherwise have any way to be able to
solve them. So to take your university experience from something that’s a bit
of a waste and you don’t need to be there for, to something that you’re
actually getting a lot of value from you really need to go from being a passive
participant of the university to being an active one and the quicker you
realize what you’re paying for and what the value of your university degree is I
think the better off you will be. I myself only realize a lot of this
value kind of in hindsight after graduating. So I went to university I did
physics and maths and I don’t regret going although plenty of the time that I
spent there I guess maybe was a waste of time, I did plenty of courses that I’ve
completely forgotten now, I spent a lot of time being stressed and cramming
material and learning in a bit of a sub optimal way to just get the grades I
wanted and to get through but luckily and I feel grateful for this, is that
I was a pretty active participant. I was engaged with lots of extracurricular
things like clubs and societies at university, I was involved in running the
physics society at my university I even did like a few sort of side projects
while I was there. I was involved with a video project going around interviewing
various lecturers on physics topics and I guess without knowing it back then I
was preparing myself to be a youtuber but it was experiences like that,
the friends I made, connections I made and the ability to understand academia
that have been valuable for me. Otherwise I guess the rest of the degree was kind
of a waste of time, if I’d only just wanted to become an expert in physics I
guess there are other ways I could have done it. Some of the physics ideas maybe
I would have even enjoyed learning them more online because it would have been
less stressful and I could have relaxed a bit and taken the learning at my own
pace. I’m grateful that I was able to gain an understanding of how the
academic world works of how scientific research is done, how academic
publishing system works and basically how science moves forward. I don’t think
I would have that understanding if I’d only learnt the scientific ideas from a
textbook for example and I think that understanding of science and how it
works will be really valuable to me because it’s the field that I’d like to
make change in to educate people in and to be a part of even though I might not
be part of the conventional academic community anymore. There are some cases
where of course university is valuable for other reasons for example if you
want to do a qualification and the university qualification is necessary.
Like if you want to become a doctor or an engineer that needs to be certified, various things that actually need this university qualification I guess
there’s no other way around it and there might even be other cases too like if
you are in a country that you don’t want to be in and you want to go to a new
country one way you can do that is with a student visa
and I think a lot of people use student visas to pursue a much better life for
themselves. So of course in that case university could definitely be
worth it and not a waste of time. Same with going on to the PhD, a PhD
can unlock doors to getting jobs in a new country and getting a visa to move
countries so if that’s something you want to do then definitely it could open
doors for you and it wouldn’t be a waste. There is the whole question of cost as
well and I think whether or not university is worth it in terms of the
money is a bit of a different question because it kind of depends on what
country you’re in. I feel lucky to be in Australia and to have gone to university
across Australia in New Zealand where university is not that cheap but it’s
also not as expensive as I hear that it is in places like the US. If money is a
huge barrier for you then of course you need to weigh up whether it’s worth it
for you even more carefully because you also need to weigh up whether it is
financially worth it maybe even if you’re in the US and you have the chance
to maybe you could get a student visa off to Europe or somewhere where
university is extremely cheap or even free but I don’t know how practical that
advice will be for everyone. Some people will go to university because they don’t
really know what else to do and there’s an idea that going to university is a
great place to just figure out what you want to do. Well sure you can do that at
university but that is also going to depend on how active you are while
you’re there. Are you making connections with people in an industry
that you think is exciting and you’d like to explore more? Are you taking
research projects? Are you actually getting involved in some of the stuff
to the point where you can figure out if it’s the right path for you or are you
just endlessly floating around in the breeze? Because I guess you can do that
at university but you can also float around and the breeze outside of
university you can do that at home as well. So sure university is a place of
many opportunities it can help you figure out what you want to do
but only if you’re kind of actively thinking while you’re there otherwise
it’s very possible to graduate from university and on the day you graduate
be just as lost as the day you graduated high school, I guess it’s
possible to make no progress on that front. There are plenty of clever and
successful people who never went to uni you’ll find some that will say that it’s
a waste of time but you’ll also find some that say maybe they wish they went.
Same with the university graduates some will be doing well, some will be doing
less well. I guess to summarize the advice it’s that university can
definitely be a waste of time and it can also be valuable so if you’re going to
invest in it and you decide that it’s worth the money for you then you kind of
have to make sure that you also make it worth your time and I guess you do that
by either being active or being passive and recognizing what you’re paying for
and what the value of university really is. So if you’re a student I hope you go
out there and and make some good connections and appreciate the people
that you’re working alongside because that is what’s going to be really
powerful for you. Best wishes and thanks for watching.

100 Replies to “Is university a waste of time?”

  1. I'm an engineering student and I'm a passive learner, maybe because I'm not really interested in engineering, but was forced to study it by my family…

  2. There is a very strong correlation between having attended university and higher wages. Only for that reason a lot of degrees make sense.

  3. It could be yes or no, at the root of all things seems to be wiggling with or without the ability to detect it. At 60 I'd prefer to enjoy learning than try to be a feather in someone's hat.

  4. This way to speak, to interact world wide is a new born XXI, patience and creativity very important, new horizons, old perspectives.. hold the line!!

  5. School sets up a meta game where you're able to put in a lot more time and effort into education. Without school I might be able to study a few hours a day on a given subject, but school deadlines and pressure forces you to keep up and learn or fail. The knowledge in a four year engineering degree probably would take 8 years on my own time. Maybe others more disciplined then I can do without it.

  6. I think that it’s important for people to network and work with their peers on their course work. If you’re tackling Uni as a lone wolf you may as well just learn online.

    Also, most people don’t have ready access to the equipment offered. I do however know some people who have cadavers in the fridge.

  7. Hi Toby i want know that which University is best to study in Australia for medicine and chess ur University provide pg course in medicine

  8. I can't say yes or no because that depends of on view of your and of that who is going there for some person that is good place but by others view it was waste of time
    Like me .

  9. I manifested my own depression a wives tail a day and on day two walking home from school I walked by my adversary home and on a ( sidewalk ) ⏹️ my worst dream came true later I went to Towson University a non degree seeking student + regular Army and still had to go to work but in classroom no one asks questions like it not cool unless you are the President

  10. I don’t disagree (but I do like using double negatives). If your goal is to acquire degrees like a stamp collection and/or to increase your market value then you may not have the proper mindset. My personal motivation had always been to satiate my own curiosity and I honestly enjoyed the academic environment. I would typically find myself surrounded by likeminded individuals, not as an active strategy but as a natural result of engaging with those who would reciprocate through stimulating conversation. In my honest opinion, and in the context of advanced degrees in physics and mathematics in particular, the most valuable tool one can receive is the ability to teach yourself and discern the veracity of whatever it is you’re trying to learn.

  11. At university, I spent almost all of my time as an undergrad getting involved in research projects and such.
    My marks suffered a lot due to neglect 🙁 but it gave me a lot of experience and left me connected with a huge network of future job opportunities (when the post grads I was working with moved off into the world).

  12. In my experience, my most enjoyable and rewarding time in college was in graduate school. To get there, when I was young, was only possible by graduating with an undergraduate degree. Learning how to learn, and the development of academic self discipline were important take aways for me.

  13. A huge problem here in the US is student loan debt. In fact just in the news yesterday it's been stated to be the 2nd largest debt cause here. The total annual student debt across all students was stated to be $1.6 Trillion. The only other one bigger was home loan debt. That means student debt is worse than car loans, health loans, etc. It's really messed up.

  14. I am looking forward to a video giving a definition of "time", and a video giving a definition of "waste". Perhaps "Is university / college a misuse of life?"?

  15. No, but it must be urgently updated to match the today's world and its labour market.
    Education must be eased through all workers' working life.

  16. It really is sad that some people only go to University to get a degree so they can get a job – not to actually learn anything. At the same time, there are people out there that never went, and are far better workers/smarter than some of the graduates. I would hire experience/character over a degree ANY day.

  17. Another thought provoking video Tibees, great stuff.
    In the (freezing cold!) UK University has changed over time, it's not the institution it once was.
    Tuition fees have had a big effect:
    Careers can be a lottery too, now a diversity student can walk into a 6 figure non-job whereas an engineer can be scraping by for years with their debt load. I think today it's important to study and aim for something you are actually interested in and that advanced humanity – then you won't go far wrong.

  18. Contrary to what others have said in the comments, I find myself time and time again disappointed by my peers at uni. I'm studying engineering science in Europe. When I got out of high school, I thought uni would be a place where I'd meet tons of hardworking people passionate about the maths and sciences we'd be studying; intelligent people who subscribe to the idea that gaining knowledge is valuable.

    Although the programme has a relatively large body of enrolled students, a big portion is the exact opposite of what I expected. Not at all interested, childish, lazy, and making fun of whomever shows interest in gaining proper understanding of subjects. "Party hard, cram, and get that piece of paper" is the agreed upon philosophy (irony of the word intended). Imagine the kinds of group projects I've sat through.

    I read somewhere down here that "if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room". My question is: if not uni, which room had you in mind where the pursuit of knowledge is more to be prevalent? In my opinion, the university system is poisoned, and the antidote is young students being taught ethic. That's not ethics. Ethic. Character. Responsibility.

    The people who show such bad behaviour will run into a brick wall: the diploma gets you the job, the skillset lets you keep it. They're self-deceiving, and yet, they are enrolled in a programme which you would suppose contains sound minds. For them, uni is most likely a waste – it's postponed pain of having to face reality. Uni should not be for the dead.

  19. School is a waste of time in general because it costs money and time. If it were free, I'd say the value is greater than the financial cost but still very seldom worth the time. All information is online. You can make friends and contact professors regardless of whether or not you are registered in a university. School is about grades, not learning. Don't go to school if you want to learn.

  20. What I expected when I started university:
    * All the knowledge needed for the job and a diploma that would get me a job
    What I actually got out of university:
    * Programming team
    * Internship that directly led to getting a job

    So completely agree with Tibees: University was extremely useful to me but maybe 10% was the classwork.

  21. Hey tibees plz make an unboxing video of Indian statistical institute(ISI) entrance exam. You will find maths sections interesting and of course a hard one

  22. The richest man in the city where I live left school at 13. In 2014 he was worth $340 million. Happens nearly everywhere you go.

  23. How about culinary school? I like to be chef in my late 20s or early 30 but I probably get out become a cook and work myself to becoming a chef what do ya think?

  24. It's a good question, and certainly worthy of debate. My opinion is that the vast majority of people and THE WORLD will benefit significantly from a person's pursuit of higher education. There's many reasons for this, but primarily the structured exposure to fundamental information needed to conduct oneself as a rational, informed member of society will place an individual at a strong advantage relative to others. Said differently, an examination of those people in lower income brackets and who generally subtract from constructive discussions on politics, economics, etc., will show that a lack of higher education is to blame. These are generalities, but exceptionally valid IMHO.

  25. I feel university is not a waste of time atleast to me. While i do have to look up a lot of stuff and read a lot in books, the most valuable thing is that university is a place for discussion. You can discuss concepts and homework with your peers to gain a deeper understanding lf the material you are working on. Furthermore when you ask the lecturer questions, he can also give you a lot of insight. Imo university is still really useful as you can only get so far by self studying unless you are an actual genius. Also homework sheets and tutorials are the things you learn the most from

  26. Id love to leave the US. We are so isolated and sheltered. College is insanely expensive and not to mention I cant even go to a doctor. Student visa here I come

  27. I think the mistake most people make is thinking university is a place that is supposed to teach you skills only. It is not. Universities are supposed to do two things: (1) provide education, i.e. help you become a critical human being and facilitate learning, so that you can judge what is 'best' for you and society; (2) research, i.e. generate new knowledge for the sake of generating knowledge, which benefits all of us on the long-term. True, depending on the university, you might find institutions that work way more like pure businesses, so they will indeed just sell you skills (whether or not they actually have the expertise to teach them!). This is why it matters so much that students are not passive students. Being active has everything to do with point (1). If universities and the associated research institutions were to disappear, hypothetically, there would be no real way to do curiosity-based research, which has proven to be a crucial driver of progress.

  28. It depends what your goal is.if you want to be a doctor you cant become a doctor from everyday experiences you have to go to university.if you want to be successful and happy maybe university is all depends.

  29. I think the main point here is that you're pretty much forced to go to uni to get a job in your respective field. It's rare that you can just rock up to a job and claim to have vast knowledge without any obvious proof.

  30. I watched this video because I really enjoy the presenter's videos about maths and physics (the one on Euler's identity is particularly elegant and clear), but this one is pretty dreadful. It makes some very fundamental errors which, I can only assume, is a product of her own experience of university, not everyone's by any stretch.

    First, information is not the same as knowledge. University should teach students how to process information, not to absorb it passively – that's what tends to happen at school. I can only assume that the presenter attended a particularly poor course if this is the conclusion she has drawn. Second, she talks about 'lectures', but a good university uses seminars and workshops, fora for considering the material set out in lectures. Again, it sounds like the presenter's course was poorly designed. Third, and this is the worst mistake, the presenter generalizes her own experience into a universal view of universities as a whole. From my first and second objections, it seems that she has either been taught very badly or has treated the teaching poorly, and that has profoundly influenced her universal advice. As she is a scientist, I would have expected reference to scholarly material on experiencing university. Unfortunately none appears. This video should be called 'Was university a waste of time for me?', but then it wouldn't get so many clicks. (And with reference to videos of hers I've enjoyed, she has remarkable presentation and pedagogical skills, which she might have developed at university.)

    University should be about learning how to think so that you can negotiate a complex world as best you can once you've left the institution. If you go to university to accumulate information, then it's all there on the internet and you needn't bother applying. But universities around the world produce knowledge, not information, and if you want to be a part of that, research the course you're planning to take to ensure that you don't end up on one like the presenter seems to have attended.

    And yes, I'm a university professor and so have skin in the game and knowledge of more than one university.

  31. I think the main value in colleges and universities are that it puts in place a structured, scheduled path to learning what you want to learn. But whether it has value depends entirely on whether the student is willing and wanting to learn, or is just treating it as a tool to procrastinate on becoming an independent adult.
    While there are better and higher quality courses available on the various MOOCs (and I do take advantage of these), a learner needs to have a base level of understanding, discipline, and critical thinking – Not just to be able to learn the material presented, but to be able to determine whether the "course" material offered is good, factual, and complete enough to invest their time running through it. There is a lot of "free" garbage online.

  32. yaaaa you are seriously true as study only and only the correct things with correct concepts and correct explanation is very much important which i dont think probabily many institute only wants results not understanding. plzzz give me suggestion if i was wrong.

    love from india

  33. No, because of all the the other diverse experiences you are exposed to during the time you are there and the people you meet.

  34. Yes and No. I live in Germany and its not needed in order to have a good job. But it also doesnt hurt to have that extra education

  35. Is university a waste of time? In many cases, I'd say yes. Once upon a time degrees were considered prestigious, but now they're two a penny. The more people who get a degree, the less valuable it is. Plus with the internet and libraries what can univerities teach you that you can't teach yourself? I'd like to see old-fashioned apprenticeships brought back. The best way to learn is to learn on the job assuming that the person or people teaching you have years of experience in their field.

  36. I've been doing astronomy research, even though I'm a chemistry student, and it's been nothing short of fascinating. Before I started at my Uni, I literally had no idea how "science" happened, and now I'm starting to look for ways to connect astronomy and chemistry. The unique knowledge I've had the chance to learn so far is to me, priceless, and I certainly wouldn't call it a waste of my time. IMO, anything your not actively, mentally engaged in, is a waste of time, regardless if it's school or work.

  37. Well, what Robyn Wyrick said contextualize facts that Tibees could not be aware of. I think it also depends of your country and economic status. Most of the advices given in the video and on the comments section apply directly for middle-class young people.
    Even tho it is hard for a 18 yo to choose a definite life path, we have to think carefuly about what we wanna do for our lifes and how that choices affects the society as well.
    Be aware of the myths of education. A certain degree won't necessary define your life, but It's what you make of it what is gonna tell it is worth it or not.
    Start with short term plans and expand your horizon as you understand how things works. Nowadays you can acquire tons of informations and skills on your own. Find a balance between all of that. Also be creative, some things could not seem related, but they are, eg. Art and science, biology and engineering, etc.

    Think before choosing a degree, and think about while you're doing it. What do you want for you and what can you offer to society.

    Embrace your own satisfaction but aware of your circumstances.

  38. I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of life from being at a university, but it cost way more than it should. It should be a great combination of career training and improving you as a cultured person, but instead it seems you have to pick one or the other now because there's not enough time for both. Pretty sad.

  39. For me university was not a waste of time cause i needed that degree to get my job, but in terms of learning things, it actively kept me from learning by letting me do repeatetive boring excercises.

  40. I guess we agree that, whether time spent at university is a waste of time or not, ultimately depends on what kind of life you want to pursue and whether your university/degree is an appropriate platform to get you there.
    But these are questions that are extremely hard, especially for our younger selves, to have enough insight to answer and decide.

  41. What advice would you give to a teenager who is about to join a university/college to make the optimal use of his time ? (Im a human being and am aware that this is not quora)

  42. No, nothing is a waste of time. Especially a decent university.
    The problem is that you will never know if you will find what you currently learn important in 2,3,5,10 or 20 years later.
    The PhD process with a professor is a totally different story. Be careful (before you start with anyone).

  43. University is an extremely socially-oriented environment. I learned that the hard way as an asocial and once naive individual. Information is better found in just books even, and often in a more precise and articulate form than hearing it from the lecturer. No gooey explanations or speech errors and so on. If you don't talk to people or participate in the extracurrocular activities, then you're automatically a so-called passive student. And it becomes a waste of time for the most part.

  44. I watch your videos to help me sleep is good and also sad because ive been conditioned and i cant finish most of then since i fall asleep to quickly. Maybe you can make a video and in middle shout real hard " heey marcel wake up" XD

  45. Is it not a ridiculous idea that people at the age of 18 or earlier need to know what they want to do for the rest of their life?
    Reasons why:
    1. You the most sophisticated thing in the universe, yet your supposed to know.
    2. Your pre-frontal cortex (problem solving part of the brain) isnt even fully developed to solve this problem accurately.
    3. You dont even know what all there is to do in the world, to know what to pick from.
    4. You havent tried hardly anything in life yet to know if its something youd want to do for 40 years.
    5. You might change your mind like you have about things you liked while growing up.
    6. Your youthful years where you have energy, creativity, tenacity, no responsibilities, kids or liabilities are going to be severely limited because of the debt you will have.

    I would just sell cat socks online and paying Tibees to shout my website out.

  46. It can be a waste of time particularly if you take a course and expect it to turn you into a 'genius' or lead you to fabulous automatic wealth fame and notoriety without any hard work.

    It can however enhance your talents and be a learning environment for people that want a bass for their skills to develop.

    Unfortunately you still have to prove yourself to the money people and work your way up through the hierarchies of your chosen field. Sadly, that is where the 'can be a waste of time' bit comes in. That is often the hard part of any career.

  47. Well, i am studying and working in the industry……………Studying Mecatronic, also i live in Mexico, which the government, offers like CHEAP UNIVERSITY, which i pay like $125 bucks every 6 months…………..After work i go to the university and i feel like is the unique way to get a job……………..Because i know people that work there, regreting not studying or having child at age 18….For a moment i hear those stories and i feel good for studying because i feel good, knowing that information is free on internet, youtube curses, books, but what matters its the certification, social skills, attitude………….

  48. Here in Sweden universities aren't really that special, because we can study for free here and we also typically get infinite chances to pass the exams.
    It is slightly more impressive if you manage to enter one of the top universities, like KTH in Stockholm or Chalmer's University in Gothenburg.

  49. I believe that going forward we will have groups of young people who will become very disappointed in what the future holds, given their investment in preparing for it.

  50. No, it's not a waste of time. For various reasons, but one of the reasons that probably matches your views as well: you don't learn proving from watching lectures.

  51. University to me is not a waste of time. I mean, I can see it being a waste of time for others, but it armed me with a ton of experience in terms of presenting at meetings and all that. While you can learn that on your own, Universities prepped me way better, compared to others at work.

  52. I'd say it also very much depends on what is it that you're studying. If you're planning on going to a university for non-marketable skills (arts, music, philosophy, languages etc.), just get a bit creative, think about it for a bit, and find a way to pursue these passions that does not involve you spending 3+ years of your life and going 30 000$ in debt. Join a relevant club, or do it online or something.

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