Perils of too much education (Opinion)

We all know education is necessary for it broadens our minds. It raises the level of our intellect and helps us understand, and of course, survive in this harsh competitive world better. But what if there is too much of it? In this article, I will point out only the cons of “too much education”. And not the pros.

We develop an elitist mindset and twisted worldview

I wrote something similar to a quote by Halton Arp that you saw at the beginning of this article, about four years back. At that time I didn’t know who he was. But both of us arrived at the same conclusion. I was just damn too late to join the party.

Anyway, without digressing further, let’s get straight to the point. Too much of an elite education often makes us oblivious to the ground realities. We are no longer able to connect with the masses. The problems that they face, their daily struggles, we don’t relate to it at all. It is partly because a highly educated man or a woman often lives in the echo chamber of his/her corporate office. Where one mostly interacts with folks who often come from similar backgrounds and have similar mindsets. Yes, these elites are no less than armchair philosophers, who form opinions about this world sitting in their comfy ac rooms and offices. Their only source of information about the needs and wants of the common people (the masses) is through mainstream news outlets, newspapers, and magazines. As a result, such a person focuses more on numbers.Β IQ over EQ. For example, an elite would be more concerned about the latest GDP numbers, latest forex reserves, latest exchange rates instead of the changes brought about in the society through welfare economics. Some of such people are so impervious to the ground realities that they don’t even know how the majority of the folks think. They don’t know what their aspirations, their motivations are (of course, I am not talking about all. Especially the sales guys. Sales guys are a real exception). As our old parents often say sarcastically during an argument, “Yes, Yes, you are too educated now, right? Who are we?” This is partially right. Too much education often makes us a jerk. EQ takes a back seat. IQ and intellect take precedence to become more important.

Risk-averse nature

All of us who opted for higher education, such as PGs and PhDs, paid a lot for it. Most of the people who came from a middle-class background even took substantial, education loans. As a result, paying the EMIs and recovering the investment is of primary importance. The highly educated youth of today talks about ROI. Such a person can never take huge risks in his life. Especially, if he is married and has a child. It takes a long time to gain experience, build a professional reputation, and make our CVs stand apart from the rest. You can’t expect someone to throw all that away and start from scratch once again. That is why most of the entrepreneurs, that too the persistent ones (those who don’t give up too soon on their dreams) are all either college dropouts or just graduates. There are very few PGs and PhDs who take the plunge and start from square one. Instead, they find it prudent to stick with the plan and work as employees for someone else, instead of being their own bosses. Which is right. After all, they spent so much money and so much of their valuable time laying down the foundations of their careers. Please note: I am not judging anyone. I am just listing the cons. Everyone is right. And everyone takes decisions that are in their best interests and according to their temperaments. This risk-averse nature of highly educated folks is just a fact. No decree involved. πŸ˜…

Too much ego and loss of humility

If you graduated from a highly sought-after and reputed college, chances are you are too proud of the brand that will stick with your life till the end. And you should be! Getting admission to such colleges is a great achievement in itself. People slog for hours after their work hours. There is a lot of sacrifices and steadfast dedication involved. And then only one is able to crack these highly competitive exams and interviews in which the acceptance ratio is infinitesimally small. As a result, once you succeed academically, chances are, you develop a hugely inflated ego. It is only when you join the corporate world and work with people with the same academic achievements, that a bit of humility seeps in. But this humility is not for the outside world. To others, you are still a bigwig, an overachiever. To others, you are still an IITian, a Harvard alumnus. This high self-opinion of yourself is justified. For it is the reason why you are so confident in your life. But at the same time, we lose a part of our soul. The part that was modest. The part that was humble. The part that was polite and receptive.

“I am not going to do that lowly work/job”

This is an extension of the third point.
One must remember it is a pyramid in the corporate world. As you go higher and higher the number of positions available decrease. Dozens of people are fighting for the same role. But in the end, it is awarded to a single person. In such a case, one either changes one’s organization (even if this new organization is paying you less), or you have to resort to other measures (ssshhh!!)
This is still okay. But at times there develops an unpleasant situation (mostly due to external factors such as global recession, pandemic, the bankruptcy of the organization) and you are asked to resign. I know people who have been unemployed for years. Still, they are averse to taking up “lowly jobs.” As against this, a person who is not so educated has no qualms doing any kind of work. No job, no work is bad. But highly educated men shiver at the mere thought of doing something that even a 10th passout can do. He will remain jobless, but he won’t compromise with the brand he is associated with. Only a few are able to let it go and pick up work (that they once considered beneath one’s dignity). Yes, we have heard of IITian chaiwala. IIM doodhwala. But how many such people are there? Answer: Very few!

Summing up

Education is always good. But too much of it often comes at a cost. Here I am talking about formal education (degrees). There a lot of self-educated people who constantly challenge their limits and try to learn something new every day. But this post isn’t about them. This post is about the people with elite education, who think like an academic and give too much importance to the piece of paper they can laminate or frame upon their walls. We must all realise that degrees aren’t everything. EQ, empathy, humility and receptiveness are equally important. And those who have them both? Well, what I can say about them. They are on top of the world. πŸ˜‡

6 Thoughts

  1. I don’t think it’s too much education. But it’s more like due to poor system of education in India and across countries. We don’t have a system of value education anymore. We don’t have a system of practical education anymore. One reason I attribute is the slavery mindset and deep rooted inferiority complex. Consequently, a theoretical education became a benchmark. An English speaking kid considers himself to be smarter than Hindi speaking teacher. We started valuing money as happiness rather than money as a small part of happiness. From that cycle of brand education, degree begun. Mind you an MBA is bloated but a MSC won’t be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your valuable insight.
      Well, I mostly agree. πŸ˜‡πŸ™‚
      And we MBAs are … πŸ˜‰ (you know what!) πŸ˜›
      Yes, an MSc won’t be a jerk… (This is because MSc is no longer sought after)

      Like

  2. It’s very difficult to maintain a perfect balance of EQ and IQ at times but those who know the art of balancing have a rising graph inspite of all the odds in life. It all drills down to one’s attitude and approach towards life

    Liked by 1 person

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