Should you go to university?


Some thoughts on the higher education system and it’s benefits (and issues), as well as a careful look at the possibility of certain careers being eliminated or diminishing as technology progresses. Thoughts on automation, artificial intelligence, online education, networking and more.


  • (Depending on school) an invaluable networking opportunity, potential to gain lifelong friends and colleagues
  • Those who move away from home learn how to take care of themselves in a relatively easy environment
  • Learning in-person from certified professors can be highly advantageous to some
  • (For very specific students) opportunity to partake in research and go into academia
  • Opportunity to study a profession which grants job security and favorable salaries


  • Cancerous tuition growth either will or already has surpassed the actual value of a degree
  • Job market is becoming less and less predictable with unprecedented disruption - many jobs viewed as 'secure' in danger of elimination or severe disruption
  • Essentially everything learnt in school can be found online in some form
  • Relatively difficult for highly capable students to shorten time to graduation
  • Eats up an immense portion of your most high-potential years
  • Overwhelming majority of jobs don't actually need degrees at all

Jobs at risk

As machine learning and automation continue to make unbelievable progress, it becomes more and more realistic that computers will be able to help people with some of the most traditionally difficult and secure work. While I don't believe machines have much chance at all of complete elimination in the following careers, I do see a likelihood of a larger proportion of the work being automated.

Think of it like factories before and after automation: Rather than 40 lawyers in a firm mostly handling busywork, one could see the four best lawyers remain and tasks like research taken care of by artificial intelligence.

Now, this is all arguably 'good' for society, as it does mean we have to do less work to get the same benefit, but it poses a serious threat to the ideology of professional security, especially in these professions:

Profession Machine threat Outlook Advice
Accountancy & actuarial science High threat of severe disruption At least 95% gone within two decades. Do not study.
Law High threat of large disruption Around 90% gone within two decades. Reconsider.
Engineering Low threat of disruption Around 50% gone within two decades. Definitely study, but beware.
Medical practice High threat of disruption Around 75% gone within two decades. Definitely study, but beware.

Good career options

Areas with great potential for growth, secure income and value to society in the near future:

  1. Aerospace engineering (Chemical/exotic rocketry, supersonic and electric aeronautics, UAV)
  2. Chemical engineering (terrestrial, lunar, and asteroid mining; methane extraction; batteries)
  3. Computer processing unit engineering (CPU/GPU/ASIC)
  4. Biology, genetic sciences, and pharmaceutical robotics
  5. Agricultural technologies (LGM, vertical farming, antibiotic reduction)
  6. Neuroscience and brain-computer interfacing
  7. Artificial intelligence / machine learning
  8. Precision robotics and manufacturing automation
  9. Nuclear engineering (Th-U fuel cycle, liquid fueled fission, fusion, continuous reprocessing, molten salts)
  10. Materials and propellants sciences
  11. Construction and public infrastructure
  12. Mathematics and the physical sciences
  13. Quantum computing (hardware, algorithms)

(If you want, you can check out my long term projects to find great potential employers)


Should you go to university?

If you are interested in studying something in the list above (and cannot / do not want to learn it online), or otherwise going into research/academia, most definitely!

Otherwise, and especially if you are interested in business or the arts or most non-STEM fields, you may want to carefully consider abstaining. In these cases, you're probably going to be much better off in a few decades with 4-8 additional years of income and compound interest on your savings.

@jwmza · January 6, 12019