Monday, August 9, 2010

Necessary, Sufficient and Optimal

In the first episode of Think Different TV Ben Casnocha and Cal Newport discuss "necessary vs. sufficient" with regards to reasons to go to university. For example, to show an employer that you can apply yourself a degree isn't necessary but it's probably good enough - it's sufficient. Medicine and law require a degree - it's necessary - whether it's sufficient or not is left to regulatory bodies. An MBA isn't necessary to run or start a business. There's much debate about whether it is in fact sufficient and also whether it's the optimal way to go about learning the skills necessary to be in business.

I hear a lot of arguments for college based on what it's "really about." People list off all the good qualities of college: you develop interpersonal skills, you build a network, you get to learn what you really want, etc. These are all good things and they do happen to a certain extent, but it bugs me that there's no comparison. If this is the real value that you're looking for, why not ask what the optimal way is to go about getting that value? There are certainly much better ways to build a network and develop interpersonal skills than by going to college. Although it's marketed as such, it isn't in reality the best way to learn what you really want. What you really want to learn is very specific to you. College doesn't provide that level of flexibility and customization.

In short, consider not only necessary and sufficient but also whether college is the optimal way to get what you want. I believe that in terms of real value, college isn't the only way and certainly isn't the optimal way to get that value.

No comments:

Post a Comment