I have been at many universities and research institutions in the US, Canada and Belgium and UK. Fortunately I had opportunities to gave a talk at MIT and was asked to give a special lecture for a computational biology class at MIT for which unfortunately I had to cancel at the last moment. I also work with people from Princeton and Harvard, which did not particularly get anywhere other than a single paper. I also attended an EU funded science meeting at Brussels and at Paster Institute in Paris. I took courses at University of Cambridge as well as Welcome Trust Sanger Institute. Currently I am collaborating with people literally around the world since my research focuses on neglected tropical diseases. Now I dropped enough names to show that I am at least familiar with universities and research institutions in the North America, EU and the Indian subcontinent. I probably worked with people from Africa, Australia, Europe, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, Peru, India, Nepal, China, Korea and many other places except Japan: unfortunately I never came across any Japanese researchers in my study and work. At personal level, I played soccer with a mainly Egyptian team, a completely Iranian team, just a mix of everything team as well as Canadian teams. So I know a little bit about universities, research institutions and the way how people play soccer.
Personally I attended American and Canadian universities for my BSc, MSc and PhD degrees. I proudly earned all the possible combination of grades during my undergraduate. Getting good grades get easy once you mastered the art of taking courses — never overbook yourself, particularly if you do not understand English very well in the beginning. I nearly killed myself by overloading my classes during my undergraduate. I took 8 graduate mathematics classes and 3 graduate physics classes: I really do not recommend doing that. By the time, I finish my undergraduate, I was able to qualify for a MSc in mathematics whose requirements were 8 graduate classes and a paper. I need to remind you that they were not easy when you are overloaded with classes. They just require a lot dedicated time. But I did not ask for my MSc since I was facing extremely pressing issues unrelated to the school. Taking many difficult classes did not help my grades nor impressing admission committee but it definitely helped me building up my analytical skills. If you think university is useless, you may be right but you probably took useless classes, went to a useless university and majored in useless topic you do not care. I confess I took some useless classes but there are more useless things in my life than dumb classes, even though students may think that dumb classes might lasted forever.
Unlike my pathetic undergraduate classes, I did well in my graduate classes: my lowest grade in graduate schools are A- and the graduate schools were easy, except dealing with my irrelevant PhD committee member who often had no idea what I was doing. If they did not understand my project, then that was their fault and not mine, period. You must have thick skin for a PhD. In graduate school, in the end, your hard work may be rewarded, and rewarded by totally unexpected person like a director of the graduate program, who have seen you working hard in the lab or office late at night or early in the morning. My supervisor told me that he was surprised that a graduate program director was extremely supportive during one of the meeting in which I had total disagreement with the committee.
Overall I have enjoyed taking science and mathematics classes even when I did not do so well. I learnt from my failures and unlike many other people, I have learnt so much more during the universities and met great people. If I have another chance I will definitely go to university and will get a PhD. But if you can and want to do something else, just go ahead and do whatever you like to do. But just do not blame others and the system. Blaming will not get you so far other than satisfying yourself and get some fame from your twitter and facebook friends. The US and Canadian university systems are not perfect but “perfect” is the enemy of good. I really do not have any idea about how the Japanese university system works, so I refrain from making any comments. As far as I know, Japanese searchers are respected even though many people do not understand some talk given by some Japanese.