The story is set in the future. The school grads are evaluated to find the most suitable field to apply themselves in and then receive all the skills and knowledge required for their field via some kind of fast-learning technology.

One guy cannot be evaluated for any profession and is perceived as a loser. He's then told that he is going to a university where people like him are actually learning, because somebody has to discover new stuff, move technologies ahead, etc.

  • In roughly which year did you read this and when do you think it might've been published? Also, was this a short story? If so, did you read it in an anthology, a magazine, or online? Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 17:59
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    This is probably that perennial favorite "Profession" by Asimov - and I'm sure it's been IDed here before
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 18:04
  • 2
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 18:05
  • I think we should close this as a duplicate -- and it won't be the first one; this one has been asked and answered several times.
    – Basya
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 9:54

1 Answer 1


As the comments above say, this is probably the Isaac Asimov novella "Profession" (1957; ISFDB, Wikipedia links). To quote from the Wikipedia article:

People in this future society are taught to read at the age of eight and then Educated at the age of eighteen. Each person's professional speciality is dictated by an analysis of his or her brain, with no choices allowed to the subject. The best of the Educated people compete in professional "Olympics" in the hope of being "bought" by an advanced Outworld. To stay on Earth is almost an admission of failure.

George Platen is determined to be a Computer Programmer, a profession in demand, and he hopes to qualify for "export" to a top-flight Outworld. On Reading Day, however, concerns are raised about George's ability to be Educated. On George's Education Day, he is told that his brain is unfit for any form of Education. He is drugged and sent to a House for the Feeble Minded.


George is returned to the House and discovers the reality: the House is an Institute of Higher Studies. Those people who have the urge and persistence to create, even though they have been told otherwise about their abilities, are sent there to support the advancement of science and civilization....

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    Yes, this is the right one. Just re-read it online. Thank you for identifying it for me. Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 1:48
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    @IrinaKhaskin - if this is the correct answer, as you have indicated, please accept it by clicking the checkmark below the voting buttons.
    – Basya
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 9:46

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