Is Going to University a Selfish Decision?

Since attending University, I have come into contact with suggestions, mainly from Christian circles, that going to university is a self-centered endeavour: it serves only the attendee, puts them in spiritual danger and, like this video suggests, clasps us into a social mould, that turns us into materialistic, 2.5 children clones. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that this is the case. However, those who fall into this so-called ‘trap’ of University, with all it’s social expectations seem to have missed the point of going to University in the first place, namely that...

going to University will get you a degree, not a job.

If you intend to go to University with the hope that it will miraculously offer you a well-paid and ‘decent’ job at the end of it, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. University is a place for the curious. It’s a place to explore, to understand, to question and to take risks, both selfish and selfless. It’s an environment, where you will be confronted with your old thoughts and convictions, then forced to shape, consolidate or change them according to the things you discover. This ‘decent’ job is purely a bi-product.  There’s the argument that a lot of succesful people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuccaberg, didn’t complete their University education and therefore a degree is useless. However, these people did ATTEND University and those years of attendance will have had their influence. 

The ‘selfish-ness’ of University also has a lot to do with personal approach. In the same way my intentions of pursuing a degree might be selfish so too might my decision to do a year-out with the church, a mission trip to India or start my own business be selfish. In all areas of society, people use their gifts for selfish causes. If a person has been blessed with an academic mind, it is their duty to use it selflessly, in the same way that someone with a leadership gifting must use theirs. 

There are so many opportunities to be self-less at university. You realise very early on, that everyone is just as clever, talented and determined as you, if not more. This takes the focus off ourselves and onto collaborations. There is also a lot of stress on group work for projects and labs: teamwork is highly valued at university. Very rarely do you see a student theatre production that has been written,directed and produced by one person. Students also tend to live together, sharing a living space, creating cleaning routas, making meals for each other and creating a family-like atmosphere. One thing I have always been keen on at University is sharing knowledge. I love to revise in groups after studying by myself, so that we can all put our thoughts into one place, then pick them apart. There are many other examples, such as students who feed the homeless, start up charities, intiate protests, teach in schools, those who want to use their degrees to end world hunger, those who pray in lecture theatres and those that want to change the world. 

I have also never experienced a spiritual richness, such as the one I have encountered at University. 

I agree that University, like many other things, can be a selfish time in a persons life, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be. We choose the university experience we receive: it's one of those books with a number of different endings and our choices will reveal the conclusion. I’ve said this before, but getting a degree is a privilege and one we shouldn’t take lightly. I also think that getting out of our parent’s houses and learning to live independently is one way of getting over our selfishness and appreciating what we have. But perhaps that’s just me.


  1. anything we do in life can be selfish and also can be of service for others. It is just a matter of how we use our time and choose our attitude.
    While I do think university is not necessarily selfish, I don't think everyone should be going to university.
    I am 24 and I have already worked my dream job. At the moment I have a decent, well-paid job. I have never felt the lack of education on my part in any of the jobs or tasks that I have been given and I feel that the years living in the real world rather than the imaginary world of uni have provided me with way more wisdom than I see in my classmates and friends coming straight out of university.
    When my parents were 24, they were married and had 3 children, they were both working, raising children and looking after the home with no help from anyone. I see a generation coming out of university that is not prepared to look after themselves, not able to find a job (because their expectation of what they are worth is way higher than what they are actually worth for an employee).
    I think a lot of people use university to extend their childhood and spend their parents money, sleep until noon and drink until morning... this is where that selfishness develops.
    However I am not against university for people who actually want to spend this time learning, who are eager to know more about what they are passionate about. Or for people who need to learn to be able to do the job that they are passionate about well.
    I am for university, but not for everyone and for the right reasons.

    1. I completely agree with everything you've said. I don't think everyone should go to university and I don't believe that those who go to university are somehow 'better' or 'more useful' than those who don't. Everyone has an individual calling and everyone should be selfless in that calling. It also really frustrates me when people waste university, by sleeping all the time or just going out and getting drunk every night. There are so many great alternatives! Like you said, you don't always have to go to university to get your dream job :-)