WILL: You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f**in' education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.
When he's smack-talking Clarke at the Harvard bar, Will reminds us all that an education is only as good as what you do with it. There's no point in dropping a ton of money on your education if all you're going to do is repeat what you've read in books. You need to have some sort of original thinking.
CLARK: Yeah, but I will have a degree. And you'll be serving my kids fries at a drive-thru on our way to a skiing trip.
In his final effort to save face, Clarke reminds Will that there actually is a reason for spending so much money on his education, because the degree he gets from Harvard will get him a good job. But Will isn't impressed. In his mind, having a good job can't cover up the fact that someone has no original thoughts in his head.
SKYLAR: Well, I've got to go. Gotta get up early and waste some more money on my overpriced education.
Skylar has heard Will criticize a Harvard education in his argument with Clarke. He didn't mean to make Skylar feel bad, but there's still some part of her that realizes he's right, even though she makes a joke about it.
LAMBEAU: And he lived in this tiny hut somewhere in India, but he had no formal education.
One of Lambeau's biggest intellectual heroes is a man who lived in rural India and had no formal education. As a professor, Lambeau knows that education is extremely important to 99% of people. But there is always that small percent who are just naturally gifted no matter how much education they've had.
MAGUIRE: Right. My dad laid brick. Okay? Busted his ass so I could have an education.
Maguire isn't knocking manual labor as a profession. After all, his father laid brick so he could go to school. But he's pretty skeptical about the idea that this is really what Will wants to do with all his intelligence.
MAGUIRE: You could be a janitor anywhere. Why did you work at the most prestigious technical college in the whole f***in' world? And why did you sneak around at night and finish other people's formulas that only one or two people in the world could do, and then lie about it?
Maguire rightly challenges Will on his desire to just be a manual laborer for the rest of his life. He knows that somewhere inside Will there's a hunger to set his intelligence loose. That's why, of all places, Will chose to become a janitor at MIT and spend his spare time solving math problems.
SKYLAR: You know there are very smart people here at Harvard, and even they have to study because this is really hard.
Skylar recognizes how insanely smart Will is. But she also needs to remind him that for the rest of the world, homework is hard and they have to try their best to learn. It's not like Will can always be there to figure everything out for her.
SKYLAR: No. I—I've got to learn this.
All Will wants to do is goof around and hang out, but Skylar is focused on getting the most out of her expensive education. It's true that everything she does is easy for Will, but that doesn't change the fact that she needs an education if she's going to do what she wants with her life.
SKYLAR: Growing up in England, you know, I went to a very nice school. You know, it was kind of progressive, organic, do-it-yourself, private school. Then Harvard. And then med-school. You know, if you think about it, at the end, my brain's going to be worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars...
Skylar isn't naïve about how much has been spent on her education, especially compared to Will, who has never spent a dime on school. But all that aside, Skylar has chosen a certain path in life and she's determined to stay on it.