How the Search for Right Answers Destroyed Higher Education

Srinivas Rao
7 min readMar 27, 2022
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

From an early age, we’re all conditioned to search for the right answers. After being a straight-A student in high school, I was accepted to UC-Berkeley, the number one public school in America, in 1996.

But I graduated with a 2.97 GPA and was subsequently fired from almost every job I’ve had in my professional life. On the other hand, my sister graduated with honors, earned a masters, became the chief anesthesiology resident at Yale, and completed a fellowship at UCLA.

I’ve accomplished what I have despite my education, not because of it.

Because of the stark contrast between my sister’s outcomes and mine, I’ve spent the last decade exploring why our education system is broken and how we can fix it.

  • I’ve asked college professors at elite schools how they would redesign our current education system.
  • On the Unmistakable Creative Podcast, I’ve spoken to thought leaders from various industries about how we create an education system to prepare young people for the future of work.

To be clear, I’m a strong advocate of education. But the search for the right answers has caused both students and educators to lose sight of what education is and what it’s not.

Education is not about tests scores, elite colleges, GPA, or how many letters someone has behind their name. But above all, education is not about the search for correct answers.

Take the Test, Learn the Lesson

In school, we learn a lesson and take a test. But as Will Smith said in his biography, life gives you tests first, lessons second . And we learn these lessons by being wrong.

  • We learn to choose the right partners by dating the wrong ones, to get back up by falling, and to save money by wasting it.
  • Nearly every scientific breakthrough, modern innovation, and successful company are predicated on the possibility that someone will be wrong.



Srinivas Rao

Candidate Conversations with Insanely Interesting People: Listen to the @Unmistakable Creative podcast in iTunes