You don’t need to think for yourself.

Let’s go back to high school graduation since the same principle applies. During high school I played by all the rules, got good grades, completed my assignments on time, and attended class when I was supposed to. I remember sitting in my (boring) graduation ceremony, looking around at the kids who skipped class all the time, took the easiest minimum credits and clearly had no ambition to succeed in life.

I realized that at this point in time, I was on the same level as those kids. We were both getting the same diploma for completing the same program, despite the stark difference in mindset and effort.

Had I thought for myself during those 4 years, I would have realized what was wrong much sooner. I would have figured out that I was chasing credentials, not learning any practical or valuable skills. I would have found a better way to separate myself from the crowd, because even excelling in school made me average in the real world.

The end result matters more than the process.

End results matter. But the process is what creates the end result. In school, I learned that the only reason I studied & learned was for the end of getting a grade. The emphasis was put on the grade, not on the process of learning.

Because of this, I was incentivized to find easier ways to get that grade. I would cheat, not learning anything about the material through the process, and I could still earn the same grade. Even if I didn’t cheat, I could still do the bare minimum by memorizing what I was supposed to memorize, and repeat it back on the test to get a grade, having gained no new ability or skill or knowledge throughout the process. This doesn’t work in the real world.

Work isn’t something you should enjoy.

In school, I learned that the practicality of my career & major matters more than my enjoyment of it. Of course there are still times in my career now when I’ll be working hard and struggling through something in order to achieve what I want to achieve, but I will have chosen to take on that challenge.

The vision of my life when I was in college was one of feigned success and inner misery. I learned that getting an engineering degree would land me the best job, and it didn’t matter if I hated engineering because if I stuck through it then I could retire at 60 and be financially set for the rest of my (short) life.

Credentials matter more than the ability to create real value.

The entire focus of college is the degree at the end of it. “Gotta get that piece of paper!” Supposedly, this piece of paper is a magical ticket that will get you a high paying job. I went into unreasonable debt on this empty promise.

This means your ability to impress the right people is more important than your ability to consistently create value. You can earn a degree without learning skills that are valuable in the real world. Therefore, by going to college, you’re buying a piece of paper with special “pull” with the right people—-not for the genuine increase in your abilities.