When Will College Become Obsolete?

So a while ago, I posted a thread asking people what their undergraduate GPA is. A LOT of people mentioned that they had below a 3.5, many below a 3.0, and some even below a 2.5. So it got me thinking about a number of things.

  1. In most, if not all cases, that general-education poetry or ancient Mesopotamian history course that you were required to take really doesn't matter to anyone.
  2. Everyone on here talks about buying the @WallStreetOasis.com interview prep guides, or even BIWS models to prepare for interviews... I doubt most finance majors at non-target schools have ever built an LBO model in their coursework.
  3. It's all about hustle and social skills. A 3.2 GPA state school graduate who was fraternity president, networked his way into 2 internships, and was an active member of his investment club and can actually speak conversationally about finance/markets is 10000% more qualified and preferred than someone at that same school with a 8.53 GPA and no social skills/experiences.

I could go on, but I think you get what I'm saying here. So my question - when will college ever be obsolete, and we just move entirely into online certification programs? You could learn Calculus entirely from Khan Academy, so why not learn the skills needed for a job, since obviously most people aren't learning them in class?

Comments (30)

Feb 20, 2019

Can you elaborate on "it's all about hustle and social skills?" The reason I ask is because when I network (I have some ok things on my resume, finance related, low level work, but it's better than nothing type of work), I'm pretty much treated like spam mail. I think most 40-50 year olds have better things to do during their day instead of helping a student with career goals over coffee. I really want to know how all the freshman on this board get investment banking internships in highschool or first year of college by "networking." Did you just straight up ask for an internship or did you ask to spend 30 minutes to talk about your interests in finance, lol.

Feb 20, 2019

Absolutely.

So, first of all, realize that many applicants have parents/relatives that work in (or know people in) IB. This is especially true of applicants who come from private pre-schools, middle-schools, and high-schools (i.e. if your parents are dropping $50,000/year for you to go to middle-school, they're probably very well-connected and can get your foot in the door.

As for the people that don't have that "in," so to speak, here's what I mean by the "hustle and social skills" part. Nobody wins over an interviewer if they know what a DCF model is, or what CAPM stands for, or why you multiply by (1-tax rate) in the debt portion of the WACC Calculation. This is a given. You get the job over another applicant because of your charisma, your experiences, and your likability. In other words, you can message someone that you're interested in finance, and that you have some decent work on your resume, but who gives a sh*t? They don't need you, and odds are, they don't care. So you have to MAKE them care. Give them a reason to want to help you - establish some commonality or come across as a genuine dude who is eager to learn and not a scripted cold-email robot. THIS is where the social skills come into play.

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Feb 20, 2019

Thanks for the insight, really appreciate it that. I really hate sounding robotic like you said in my initial cold email, but you can obviously check the website and see their background and go something off of that (similar school, or w/e). But I feel like this is creepy as fuck, any input on that end?

Feb 20, 2019

It won't, and I think even the people with sub 3.0 GPAs in Finance will tell you the same. College offers more than just "ancient Mesopotamian history". Many people need constant mentoring and teaching from professors to learn subjects, the vast majority of humans are not smart enough to learn it all on their own.

Also, college teaches social skills, allows you to build a network of peers, and allows you to live on your own for the first time for most people.

I don't know how you would get all that from sitting at a computer in your parents house for 7 hours a day and self-teaching courses

"If you ain't first, you're last!" - GOAT

Feb 20, 2019

Sitting at a computer 7 hours a day is basically corporate america

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Feb 20, 2019

At the age of 18-22? Definitely would want someone that age to be out making relationships and growing while learning.

What are they going to do afterwards? School clubs, intramural sports, greek life, hearing from professionals speaking on campus? Nope not enrolled in college

"If you ain't first, you're last!" - GOAT

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Feb 20, 2019

College has for most of its existence probably been obsolete, in that, you still need on the job training.

However, I don't think college as an institution will ever die; it might contract, but it will never die. If you look across generations, knowledge/length of time in school has increased, but the most important segment always remains the last section. For example, high school was essentially the peak length of school for most of our grandparents, for our parents, it was mainly college, for us, its mainly PhDs and grad school/MBA.

My grandparents took high school seriously as due students today in MBA programs because it's essentially what you are judged on. How many job interviews do you go on now where they ask about high school?

Personally, I would like to see it contract before anything else. We could get rid of some majors but jobs at Walmart would also need to stop requiring college. However, as college is a big machine already, I can't see that stopping. And let's be honest, most people go to college really just to party. If you want really want to cut down numbers, figure out a way to stop that from happening (not saying I want it to happen).

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Feb 20, 2019

"mainly PhDs" - highly disagree with you on that one.

But really, what I am saying is when are we going to stop requiring students to take poetry and history? Like, you could get a finance major and cut out all the nonsense gen-ed classes that nobody cares about and get rid of all the blowoff classes and just cut right to the point and have students live on campus for 2 years, get their major degree, and be out of there.

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Feb 20, 2019

You're probably right about the PhD thing, I just dind't want to neglect it.

We probably could just have straight degrees, where if you're a finance major its finance classes and that it. But I think sometimes college's have to justify themselves/the price by giving a "well rounded" education.

Feb 20, 2019

I agree with you in that most people don't care for their gen-ed classes but I think the solution is to give students more choices in what to take. I would much rather take philosophy over writing, and to some extent I will get the benefits of becoming a better writer in the philosophy course.

My school emphasizes a liberal arts education and I initially said F this, but over the years I started seeing the value of learning more than just your field. I listened to a lecture about AI once, and the speaker pointed out that we need tons of humanities focused people alongside the Comp Sci wizzes to make sure AI develops all the intangibles of humanity. Just one example I can think of for the benefits of Gen-ed classes.

I agree with you, a lot of college is useless because some of it to an extent is still like high school where you HAVE to take a variety of set courses. I wish they would change it at many schools to require hours outside your major, but be able to completely craft which gen-ed hours you take

"If you ain't first, you're last!" - GOAT

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Feb 20, 2019

Look at VC funding into new forms of education and how the space is being transformed. The education system will change dramatically in the next two decades without a doubt.

FWIW, I think the only useful thing about college as-is = networking opportunities. I haven't noticed a difference in quality between founders I invest in that went to school and those that didn't or went to a subpar school.

Feb 20, 2019

Oh look at this guy bragging about the people he's invested in lmao

Feb 20, 2019

Alternatively, quantifying data source but OK. For someone with room temp IQ you're pretty bold.

Feb 21, 2019
m_1:

The education system will change dramatically in the next two decades without a doubt.

Must be lonely for you all the way out there on that limb

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Feb 20, 2019

Please, have a silver banana.

Fucking gold.

Feb 20, 2019

Yeah I'm sure vcs are burning billions on nothing.

Feb 21, 2019

These days, anyone with a internet connection can access the complete curriculum and coursework to some of the most prestigious programs at top school; Lectures, notes, projects, exams, assignments, etc. it's all available.

The only thing they can't do, is to show up and take the exams / hand in projects, and eventually get a physical degree - or network around on campus with other students.

I think that the landscape has fundamentally changed, in the past few decades.

But obsolete? No, not in a long, long time. There's gonna be a bigger focus on "affordable education for everyone" especially people in third world countries. But I think elite schools are gonna continue being elite, and be selective as ever

Most Helpful
Feb 21, 2019

Interesting topic. I might be wrong as I get this info strictly from friends who went through the university system in England. They have more of a streamlined college life. 3 yrs and essentially focused on what we call a major. These guys were engineering / IT and that's essentially all they did in college (other than play in a band and drink lots of beer).

I look at it from two perspectives, the student and the employer.

Student: I would want to spend zero time in the mandatory unrelated (to my major) fields. However, I would want some flexibility to take non major courses that intrigued me (if for no other reason to just have a break - especially if the major is technical). So sprinkle a few electives in there, see some new faces, etc.

Employer: I want to work with people who are intelligent, well spoken, can communicate, are interesting / interested, and demonstrate leadership qualities. Depending on the job, that may require technical skills. I'd like them to be well rounded. I own / operate a small business. I want to be confident and comfortable with everyone, regardless of their job, speaking to clients (because at some point they will - even just in answering the phone).

Hard to explain but something pretty cool happens to many (I hope most) kids throughout their college yrs. Yes they gain more knowledge (don't know if they're smarter or not), but what they really gain is confidence. Look at yourself at 18 vs 22. Now would they have gained this anyway? Hard to tell. But something about leaving home, having to figure things out, get involved with things, excel at a higher level, etc. builds confidence. I think the education is almost secondary. In most jobs, they assume you know next to nothing and have to train you in their methods anyway. They want to make sure they use their resources to train the right rocks.

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Feb 20, 2019
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"If you ain't first, you're last!" - GOAT