Things to consider when choosing your education

Be a creator, not a consumer

On the journey to find your education, in the previous article we’ve created a 9-bullet-point list with:

  • What you like most doing (do more of it),
  • The ones you like but haven’t tried enough (do more of it),
  • Those you’d like to try(get started today and try it within the next 3 months).

Now, look at your list, and ask yourself: do I have more activities where I am creating something or more activities where I am consuming? Here are what they look like:

  • Creating activities: writing, playing music, playing sport with a team, organizing an event with your friends, cooking a delicious dish
  • Consuming activities: watching TV, movies, playing video games

In general, the ratio of creators vs. consumers follows the Pareto principle 80% consumers and 20% creators. On the internet, the 1% rule applies :

Ratio creators, contributors and consumers
Ratio creators, contributors and consumers

When you will grow older, and look back at your past, what will you be most proud of? Learning a new skill, learning how to play the piano, learning how to cook a delicious dish, or playing endless video games or watching Youtube videos? Will you even remember anything from it?

Most of the activities where you’re in charge, creating something, are the ones that will provide you with the most joy and the longer-lasting pleasure and pride.

When creating a song, or showing your creation to someone, the positive feeling you will get will outlast the moment: you will have learned a new skill, you will share a good time with the people with whom you are sharing it.

To choose a career, consider the progress of our civilization

Since the end of the Second World War, technology has progressed tremendously. The unstoppable evolution of our civilization has become exponential.

As a consequence, it is more and more difficult to imagine how this change will affect jobs and careers. But a few things are very likely to happen:

  • The nature of the job you will choose at the beginning of your career will have nothing to do with the job at the end of your career, and you may have to change job several times during your career span.
  • The job you will start with at the beginning of your career will become outsourced to another country or more and more automated or assisted by computer. Maybe, even replaced partly by artificial intelligence.

Hence, when you consider which education to take, you need to ask yourself: does the job that I will get from doing this education have a chance to be replaced, outsourced, or automated in the near future?

Now, which parts of the economy may radically transform in the coming years and are potential go-to for your career? Energy, automotive industry, IT, healthcare, services to the elderly?

Look at a newspaper, and try to foresee the trends. One good start is the future of work videos at #TED

But as a rule of thumb, you need to consider whether your job will be able to be carried out by a computer by simple artificial intelligence. The more you use your brain, the less likely your job will be replaced.

Consider your education as an investment

In high school, either you may love to study, or you are just looking for the nearest possible exit that allows you to start your career.

In the previous paragraph we concluded that when choosing your education, you need to think about whether it will easily be automated over time.

The education that will ensure that will normally require many years of education.

Another important aspect to consider is that education has to be seen as an investment.

An investment is is an asset or item that is purchased with the hope that it will generate income or will appreciate in the future. In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth. Investopedia

During your higher education years, you:

  • Pay upfront money for your college, university,
  • Give up the salary you could get working by being in classes,
  • Spend 3, 5, 8+ years studying,
  • Get in return a job with a certain salary.

You are hoping that over time, and throughout your career that investment will be repaid and more.

In short, if you study X or Y years, you will get an increase of A% or B% in salary.

Now, if the education you decide to take does not bring an increase in potential salary, you have to consider whether you really want to pursue that route. Either there may be a quicker way to achieve it, or you should consider change education altogether…

This rule is valid for higher education when you are in high school. But it is also valid about training during your career.

The more you invest in yourself throughout your life, the more you’ll get a return on investment in salary and interest in the job you will do.

Now as an exercise, check the salary of the jobs you are considering to do, and the related education.

Compare the salary at the end vs. the cost education required, and decide which education is a better investment.

During your education, learn the skills of learning

You may hear from some people that during your career you don’t use most of the thing you studied for, or that some subjects are useless.

In fact, that is right that in my career, I use little things on the daily basis of what I learned during my education. However, this is beside the point.

I studied engineering in France. In my school, until the last 2 years, we didn’t have a major.

And even during these majoring years, we kept a generic series of subjects that were applicable to all students in the school. We used to joke around that we only knew “few/nothings about many things”.

One could say I that I was not exactly ready to start specific complex calculations about a certain discipline when I graduated (mechanics, optics, thermodynamics, programming…), but it gave me two things:

  • The ability to learn any skill very quickly. Knowing where to look for the right information, understanding the underlying concept (I have the foundation),
  • The ability to understand the related discipline, and the interaction and interfaces between the disciplines and departments in any company. I know what this or that person needs to do his work, and I can provide it (from engineering to administration, supply chain, marketing, accounting, and the list goes on).

It is correct that you may just use a small portion of knowledge that you acquire during your education. But it will give you the ability to learn new skills.

When you study various disciplines and stay curious, you will get an understanding of the links between disciplines.

You will create mental models, on how things work in nature, in the economy, in history, in human nature, in arts.

So next time you doubt about the use of a certain subject at school, try to appreciate the value of it. And even enjoy it. You may need it in the future.

If you want to work on your meta-learning skills (learning how to learn), you can check out the following from Tim Ferriss:

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you make a purchase. This will help to support!


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