Elon Musk has said college is good for allowing students to spend time with people their own age, but claimed it’s basically pointless when it comes to learning new things.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO made his bold comments at the Satellite 2020 conference on Monday, March 9, where he discussed sending humans into space, exploring more of the universe and advancing technology.
During an audience Q&A portion of the event, Musk was asked how colleges and industries could make higher education more affordable for students, as well as create more access for underprivileged students.
He responded by saying ‘you don’t need college to learn stuff’, arguing knowledge is essentially available for free and therefore implying paying for it is unnecessary.
Musk described college as a bunch of ‘annoying homework assignments’, saying:
I think colleges are basically for fun and to prove you can do your chores, but they’re not for learning.
Interestingly, Musk didn’t appear to feel this way when he was getting his own degrees in physics and economics. He spent two years studying at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania to complete his degrees.
However, the CEO did drop out of a PhD program at Stanford University after spending only two days on the course. He opted instead to launch his first company, Zip2, which ended up earning him $22 million, Business Insider reports.
Musk pointed out Tesla did not require applicants to have a college degree, explaining it has a requirement of ‘evidence of exceptional ability’ instead.
He expressed admiration for Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Apple’s Steve Jobs, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, saying:
I don’t consider going to college evidence of exceptional ability. In fact, ideally, you dropped out and did something.
If you look at like, you know, Gates is a pretty smart guy; he dropped out. Jobs, pretty smart — he dropped out. Larry Ellison, smart guy — he dropped out.
Like, obviously not needed. Did Shakespeare even go to college? Probably not.
Musk has frequently protested the need for job applicants to have degrees. Last year, he answered ‘yes’ when asked if he ‘stand[s] firmly on not requiring college degrees’, and last month, when advertising roles at Tesla, he admitted he doesn’t care if his potential employees even finished high school.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2019
Musk’s comments at the Satellite 2020 conference were met with applause, suggesting the audience were on board with the idea of ditching higher education and focusing on displaying exceptional abilities.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.