The way education works nowadays is that there is one clear path for everyone to follow and any diversions are not really recommended. Now, every country has it’s own complicated system so in order everyone to be on the same page let’s all agree on the following:
- Primary school – age 5-7
- Secondary school – age 7-14
- High school – age 14-18
- University – age 18+
The first three institutions are mandatory if you want to be part of the society or in other words if you want to get a job, a driver licence or even be eligible to vote. On the other hand, universities are considered optional and at the same time they are not. Essentially, they are the place where you are given the knowledge and skills to make your first steps into the industry weather it be Agriculture, Banking, Politics, IT, etc. So it seems like a no-brainer everyone should go to for it. However, the recent trend I’m noticing in public groups, discussions, chats is to throw dirt and say how University is/was a waste of time.
Here is my experience with the educational institutions. As you may or may not know I’m a Software Developer and I started walking on this path since high school. I was lucky and thoughtful enough to enter and graduate probably (I’m being modest here) the best high school for IT in my country which provided me with a specialization degree as a Programmer. As a “natural” next step was going to University. As I already had some background in IT, I wanted to up my game and decided to go study abroad. After some serious research on where to go I ended up taking Computer Science studies at UCN in Aaborg, Denmark. The education there was everything that I hoped for and more, from organization, to teachers, classes, everything was perfect. (Un)fortunately, I failed to find a part-time job to sustain myself and I couldn’t bare extorting my parents for money anymore. So after I finished my first year, I took the decision to interrupt my studies for a short while, go back home, get a job, save some money and continue with the studies later. Surprise, surprise…I managed to get a junior developer position in a telecommunication company. Time passed and I got in touch with the university’s administration to inquire on the possibility of continuing from where I stopped. They said that there will be no problem just mind there were changes in the curriculum. They sent me the new plan and ohhh my…what do I see there?!
- 2nd year – 2 exams (project oriented);
- 3rd year – Internship exam;
- 5 semester – Final project examination (bonus points if internship related)
The difference was that it was even more practice oriented. So the question I asked myself is: If they want to encourage me to gain more practice, what is the point of quitting my job as a Junior Software Developer? I’m already getting the experience and on top of that I get paid. Makes no sense, doesn’t it?
I’m not the only case where university doesn’t seem to be a logical choice. Most of my classmates from high school got an IT job before they even knew they were accepted in the University. They tried doing both working and studying but eventually prioritized their job and their studies are “hanging”. Another example, my current team lead took studies irrelevant to IT and after he graduated he started learning programming on his own and…now he is a team leader in a big IT company.
Does this mean Universities are meaningless and it’s a waste of time? – HELL NO!!! I realize cases like mine are rare exceptions and most of the graduates have no idea what to do with their lives after high school. And self learning requires a certain level of discipline. The University should be able to point them to a direction they can take. To be honest, even for me University can still be of importance. As one of my friends argues, as a freelancer in order to be approved for some projects, you are asked for Bachelor degree, at least. It’s much easier to prove education level than experience alone. There is another scenario in favor of Universities. Let’s imagine in 10 years I grow tired of “being IT” and all the stress it comes with it and I decide to become a landscaper. How do I do that? Online courses? – It would be interesting to see a tree growing out of my monitor 🙂 University offers the perfect opportunity for people to re-qualify themselves and opens the doors to different industries.
Brave and extreme statements like ‘Universities are out-dated’, ‘unnecessary’, ‘waste of time and resources’ are simply stupid and ridiculous. The need of good education, I believe has never been stronger as it is nowadays. Even if you do feel confident enough to enter an industries immediately after high school you risk on missing a lot of useful experience. No, I’m not talking about wild parties on every weekend. Things like soft skills, I acquired during my year in Denmark and it’s not something to be underestimated. One should simply go and try it if he/she has the opportunity to do so and get the experience from first hand but always keep in mind that it’s completely fine to drop off once you realize there is nothing more you can gain from it.