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Education in Sid Meier's Colonization

This article discusses the concept of education in Sid Meier's Colonization. What is it, how does it work and how do you make the most of it?

Sid Meier’s Colonization has an education feature that makes it possible to upgrade unskilled colonists to skilled professionals. There are four levels of colonists in Colonization:

1. Skilled professionals
2. Free colonists
3. Indentured servants
4. Petty criminals

Through education, a petty criminal can become a skilled professional, but he has to move up the ladder one step at a time. When taught, he first becomes an indentured servant, then a free colonist and finally a skilled professional.

In order to start educating colonists you have to build learning facilities in your colonies. There are three levels of learning facilities:


To start the education of an unskilled colonist, you will need a teacher and a student. The teacher is assigned to the education building. The student can be assigned to any task within that same colony. For example, if you want to teach a free colonist the expert farmer skill, drag and drop an expert farmer to the schoolhouse, college, or university. Then make sure a free colonist is working somewhere inside the same colony. After four turns, the unskilled colonist becomes an expert farmer.

Skills taught at the schoolhouse level take four turns to complete. College specific skills take six turns to complete, and university skills take eight turns. A lower level skill can always be taught in the same amount of time at the higher level buildings, so a farmer teaching at the university level will complete the education in four turns exactly like he does at the schoolhouse level.

One teacher teaches one student, so it is not possible to assign two expert farmers to the college building and hope that they will now teach that single free colonist in two turns. But as long as there are enough free colonists working within a colony you are able to teach up to two skills simultaneously at the college level and three at the university level. Assign three farmers to the university building and make sure three free colonists are working within that colony. Four turns later your three free colonists are now three expert farmers.

As discussed earlier, a petty criminal has to move up the ladder one step at a time. It is therefore vital to use a quickly taught skill on the first two levels. This would make a petty criminal a free colonist in only eight turns, whereas, if taught by an elder statesman, it takes 16 turns to upgrade him to a free colonist . This can mess things up a bit if you are teaching different level skills at the same time and have different levels of unskilled colonists as students.

Should you be teaching petty criminals and indentured servants at all? After all, valuable time is spent on upgrading them to free colonists. Well. there just might be a better use of these lower level colonists.

Petty criminals are very effective as either soldiers or missionaries. If you equip them with muskets and horses they might eventually become skilled through combat experience. After George Washington joins the continental congress they are upgraded when they win a battle. If used as missionaries, all of them become experts when Jean de Brebeuf joins your congress.

Indentured servants, unlike petty criminals, can be trained in native settlements. Even if you have no need of the particular skill being taught, you can always clear that colonist’s skill later on, and then train him beginning at the free colonist level.

That leaves us with the free colonist. Now, the question remains; what skills are the best ones to teach?

In Europe, the price of a professional ore miner is 600 gold. For an expert farmer you have to pay 1100 gold. Both of these skills can be taught at the schoolhouse level and take four turns to complete. It would be much more cost effective to educate the farmer and buy the ore miner than doing it the other way around.

The cost effectiveness of teaching also depends on how much the student costs. For example, if you get a free colonist from a lost city rumor or a population increase, we might say that the cost of that colonist was 0 gold. The price of recruitments varies, but if it exceeds 600 gold we have the option of buying a professional ore miner and clear his profession in the colonies. Therefore, a student would never cost you more than 600 gold.

Finally, we have to consider how long it takes to teach a skill. It can take 4, 6 or 8 turns.

We get these variables:

Value of trained professional (V)
Price of student (P)
Turns to complete education (T)

So the formula becomes: V - P / T = Value per turn

If we calculate this in a table for student prices ranging from 0-600, we get this table:

Expert Ore Miner150125100755025075
Expert Lumberjacks175150125100755025100
Master Gunsmiths1421251089275584292
Expert Silver Miners22520017515012510075150
Master Fur Traders158142125108927558108
Master Carpenters250225200175150125100175
Expert Fishermen250225200175150125100175
Master Blacksmiths1751581421251089275125
Expert Farmers275250225200175150125200
Master Distiller18316715013311710083133
Master Tobacconists200183167150133117100150
Master Weavers217200183167150133117167
Jesuit Missionaries175163150138125113100138
Firebrand Preachers188175163150138125113150
Elder Statesmen238225213200188175163200

The red areas indicate where teaching creates the most value, then orange, then yellow. As you can see, some professions appear in the top three spots in all price categories. So it seems that farmers, statesmen, carpenters, fishermen and weavers are the best professions to be teaching.

One could make the whole thing a bit more complicated by including the lost production into the equation. If a skilled colonist is teaching, he is not producing what he otherwise might have. For example: A statesman produces at least 6 extra bells per turn. He spends 8 turns teaching his skill, that’s 6x8 = 48 bells. What is the value of those bells? Adding lost production into the equation makes it very complicated. Even though the value a distiller would produce is easier to calculate, the price of rum could be anywhere from 5-19. We can, however, conclude that because food has such low value, the production lost by a teaching expert farmer is minimal. Combine that find with the results in the table above, and you could make a strong case that the most effective skill to teach is the expert farmer.

Scouts, pioneers and soldiers are not included in the calculations above. Their teaching value per turn depends on the price of horses, tools and muskets. The higher the prices are, the less valuable it becomes to teach these three professions.

Teaching scouts is not very effective. You can easily equip a free colonist with horses and get him upgraded by visiting native settlements.

As soon as the price of tools increases, pioneers become less attractive professions to teach because of the value of the 100 tools you get when buying a hardy pioneer in Europe.

Teaching the veteran soldiers skill is a quite effective use of your teachers. However, soldiers and dragoons are also upgraded when winning battles, especially if you have Washington in your congress. Given that there are other good options for teaching, you might want to prioritize those, but teaching the soldier skill is not too bad of an option if you have available capacity.

Go for those expert farmers first. Statesmen, carpenters, fishermen and veteran soldiers are other good options. And of course, you also have to educate additional master planters if you can't get enough of them from native settlements.