Pursuing higher education is one of the largest investments an individual ever makes and is also probably their first major investment period.
At the tender age of 18, most people have no idea what the fuck is going on. Some people never really do figure it out at all. This is a problem, because choosing what to do with your education is a major decision and at this point in your life, you aren’t very well equipped to make a good decision.
Well, if you are reading this, you are likely someone who is somewhat wise. Wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others so that you don’t have to make the mistakes yourself. It’s ideal because mistakes can be seriously expensive in terms of cold cash and especially in terms of opportunity cost.
With this said, you’ll be open-minded to listening to my humble advice based on a mistake I made.
The story begins…
Since I was a young lad, I wanted to play soccer professionally. My parents never let me play for any teams growing up because they said kids were mean and what not. Nonetheless, I always played by myself outside. Kicking a ball is more or less the most fun I can imagine.
I was a good player and by the time I was about 15 I spent just about every hour of the day ,that wasn’t spent in school, outside playing. I figured at this point, I needed to really step up my game if I was to make it pro. So, I did. Long story short, I was good enough to play semi-pro by my senior year of high school, but I didn’t have the same amount of experience as a lot of other kids who had the luxury of playing on a team since they were single-digit-aged.
This hindered my growth long term, but it also halted my growth short term because college coaches weren’t that interested. I got interest, just not from any really good programs. It was underwhelming to say the least. The sexiest option I got was to go to a school abroad (out of the US – I’m American). That’s what I did. To condense this, it didn’t work out and it was an expensive mistake.
Moral of the story:
The moral of the story is that there is probably something in your life that you are EXTREMELY passionate about and you think that is the only thing you are ever going to want to do. I felt the same way, but I was wrong. Although I never got the chance to play on TV, I am still a genuinely happy guy and in many ways happier than I would have been because I get to use my brain these days. You are probably in the same scenario I was.
When choosing what to study in college there are really two options: 1) focus on your passion – or something you think you’d really enjoy, or 2) focus on what is responsible for you financially.
I chose the first and it was a mistake. It likely is for you too unless:
- You have serious reason to believe you are going to be extremely successful (you are the best player at La Masia)
- You would be happy doing something laterally related to your pursuit (coaching, managing etc. if not being a baller)
You probably need to have both of those things checked to be confident you are making a good choice.
If you decide that you probably won’t be that great (I never thought I would be, I just deluded myself into thinking low professional level was cool) then you should probably focus on option 2: focus on what is responsible for you financially.
Why? Because, well, you will make money. That is a given, what’s more, you will have the freedom to at least figure out what the fuck you want to do next. If you are poor, you don’t have this luxury, you need to get money today. There’s no time to be philosophical.
It’s the latter part that is most important to you as a non-robot. You want to be satisfied on a deep level and want happiness and fulfillment. Well, if you are giving up on a passion, it’s going to take time to figure out what you are going to do instead, but trust me, there is something for you. In my case, I decided I was going to dedicate my life to changing the problems I see in the world – a much nobler goal than kicking a ball (they don’t have to be mutually exclusive).
Now to answer the question:
So, what should you do? Well, I’ll tell you what I think you should do. Mathematics. Yes, I think you should major in mathematics. If you are like most people, that sounds pretty lame to you. That’s okay, you probably don’t love anything you suck ass at initially. But, math, like anything else is a skill. You can acquire it. You might not have the IQ to ascend to the top of the ladder and make intellectual lightweights out of people like Newton, but you can go pretty far (farther than you think – which is what is profound).
Mathematics is a great thing to study because you will learn how to approach problems logically. Especially, in your proof-based classes, you will see the world much clearer than most ever will because you are dealing with fundamental truths. Granted, they are often truths about numbers that you don’t care about, but the logical structure will apply to things that interest you.
Jim Simmons of RenTech would be someone to look into if you want an example of how math can be profitable.
As you probably know, STEM pays much better than liberal arts ON AVERAGE. With that said, mathematics is what unites all of STEM. It’s last in the acronym, but it’s first everywhere else.
Mathematics will give you the mental workout you need to get brain gainz and it will give you a toolbox to apply in literally an field. It is also good for status. Status and reputation are important. You get jobs based on how you are perceived often. If you want to fool someone into thinking you are smart, studying math is a great way to do that. I’ve read the average IQ of math majors is 130. You do not have to have this IQ to do math, it just attracts smart people.
Which leads me to the main point: studying math will help you meet a lot of smart people. People are your main resource in life. Without other people, you are as likely to thrive as you are without water. Smart people are the FIJI water of humans.
ANSWER: Major in mathematics!
Mathematics should be your major, but you shouldn’t be done with learning there. You should also do your best to be extremely proficient at programming. I am not great at programming, but I’ve saved myself a lot of time and money by writing software to give me information about my trades/portfolio/risk.
At first, I hated programming, but now that I can almost do things, it’s quite a blast. Don’t quit on things at first just because you suck and aren’t having fun. If you know it will be helpful to acquire the skill, then by God acquire that damn skill!
Programming is also helpful in the marketplace as you probably know. JP Morgan won’t even look at you without programming experience.
Lastly, I would recommend you read about 52 books a year. Try to have a good amount of technical books in there. Your aim when reading should not always be to have fun. It should largely be to enhance your mind. In time, you will find that is a lot of fun.
Hope you learned something,