Besides of course sexual selection, considering in this section only "formal learning" activities.
Consider e.g. the 2020 University of Oxford, where many many people are taking courses without any laboratory work (and also without much use at all) like literature and history, and they are paying about 9k pounds/year for it: how much it costs to study at the University of Oxford?.
Basically all of this could be done online from books.
Laboratories are impossible however, because expendables of every experiment you do cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, not to mention crazy upfront equipment costs.
For this reason, the brick and mortar aspect universities should focus exclusively on laboratories, and ensuring that the students with the most relevant knowledge (which can be readily obtained online) get access to those laboratories. Students should of course fully master every aspect of theory pertinent to their experiments. principal investigators should hand pick whichever criteria they want to select their students, possibly based partly on exam as a service if they find it a useful metric.
Furthermore, the use of laboratories should put great focus on novel research. A lot of laboratory instruction could be done from video of an experiments. As much as possible, we should use laboratories for novel research. Related: Section "Videos of all key physics experiments".
You can always learn pure theory later on for free or very cheap from books.
And above all, you can always learn software engineering later on for free, because the programming community is so much more open than any other so far, notably e.g. with Stack Overflow and GitHub, see also: Section "Ciro Santilli's Open Source Enlightenment (2012)". Ciro Santilli is trying to change that with, but don't hold your breath. But it is increasingly hard to understand why there isn't an university that forces teachers to publish all their notes and lecture videos (which should be mandatorily recorded) with a Creative Commons License, and then let anyone take whichever exams they want for a small fee or for free.
Actually, there is a good chance you will learn to program, like it or not, because chances are that you won't be able to find as decent a job doing anything else.
But there is one thing you cannot learn for free: laboratory work. Laboratory work is just too expensive to carry out outside of an institution.
Basically, if you don't do laboratory work in undergrad, you will very likely never be able to do so in your entire life.
Because laboratories are so rare and expensive, it is laboratories that put you in the best most unfair position at creating world changing deep tech startups, which is why when in doubt, choose the course that has the most experimental work. Yes, you won't be able to achieve those insanely concentrated equities of the early-Internet, as you will need more venture capital to run your company, but those days are over now, deal with it.

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