Investment Philanthropy Wisdom

52. Charlie Munger Lesson For The Day: Part 6: Don’t Drop Out Of College, It’s Not For Every One

The word university is a Latin derivative from the phrase “universitas magistrorum et scholarium”  which roughly means “community of teachers and scholars.”  Humankind has been debating the roles and functions of universities ever since their existence and even before their existence.

Geoffrey Stewart Boulton, Regius Professor Emeritus of the University of Edinburgh in a paper titled  “What are universities for?”  (co-authored with Oxford historian Colin Lucas),  gave a very good proposition on the purpose of  universities, namely: 1. The primary purpose is that they are places dedicated to the pursuit and dissemination of understanding. 2. This primary purpose feeds all of the secondary functions like the acquisition of skills and contribution to innovation.

And some young students ask: “Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of university. Why shouldn’t I? Besides, Richard Branson didn’t go to university.”

One of the best answers to this question comes of none other than Bill Gates himself. Essentially, Bill Gates said that a student should not drop out unless what he is doing is time critical.

Perhaps Microsoft or Facebook would not be formed is Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg had not dropped out of Harvard. For most people, it is best to finish university.

Also, in modern societies, you can be a doctor, dentist or practice in many other professions if you drop out.
Charlie Munger himself dropped out of University of Michigan where he was studying mathematics to join the US Army. However, he later on went to study at Caltech and subsequently Harvard Law School where he eventually graduated J.D. (with a magna cum laude) in 1948.

What has Charlie Munger to say on dropping out? In his lectures and speeches, he has always encourage education and lifelong learning. From his philanthropy on education, in particular college education including donating and designing dorms at the University of California (Santa Barbara), University of Michigan and Stanford University, my conclusion is Charlie Munger encourage higher education to completion. He himself completed law school in Harvard.