Michael Wright posted his thoughts on university and college education, a subject that is very near and dear to me. I've personally dropped out of school two years in and for very good reasons.
If I had stayed, I would be finishing up my degree this May and I could have ended up in a number of different fields from computer science to math and physics. Yet, I decided to drop out when a great opportunity came along and honestly, just like Michael, I would not go the other way. Honestly, I agree with him on most points except the university part because I feel like that part is superfluous.
One thing that my lack of university attendance gifted me with is time. But in a different way. Instead of having time to work on numerous pet projects, socialize, and attend conferences, I was given time to work among many very smart people and on very great projects. What university takes away from you, I feel like, is not just money but focus on the industry.
My own experience at college was riddled with "required" classes, outdated courses, noninteractive classmates and teachers, as well as high tuition fees and book expenses. Basically to sum it up, it was an expensive waste of time.
I left college when I received a phone call one day from a founder of a startup that needed a developer. And then for nine months straight, I spent my time at work and off-work developing my social media persona, modeling my blog and self-marketing strategies from what I've learned at work, and focusing on the efficiency of my coding. I ended up with a greater understanding of the field and my own place in it as well my own value. My value was indirectly proportional with my profitability. The more efficient I was, the better and faster I was, the more I'd get paid.
The jobs I took on afterward mirrored my approach. Everywhere I worked, I dove deep into the work and sucked any and all knowledge out of it and applied it both to my blog and myself. On top of that, my expenses were covered because my "learning" projects became profitable pieces of software that my employers used to fuel their companies. Imagine going to class, getting paid for it, and being able to throw that on your resume.
As I drifted from project to project, I built up more knowledge of business and the markets. My connections were replaced with clients and my personal projects were replaced with proprietary tools and reporting.
My journey allowed me to do things I would not have had time, energy, or dedication to do at school such as:
- work in an environment where my time = money. Any wasted time is wasted money, any productive time is money gained, not only for me but for a business.
- focus on projects 40 hours a week at a time.
- build up a strong (NDA-encased) portfolio and work history
- build my life including getting married, move around, managing my finances and everything else "grown up".
- learn to fearlessly dive into unknown technology and emerge successful, quickly.
Is this kind of a journey for everyone? No, definitely not. Which is why Michael's article and his journey has as much merit and as much importance as mine. But you have to keep moving. It's easy to get stuck in one place, it's easy to just accept reality as is and not move on. And it's easy to not take advantage of the opportunities you're presented. And this makes it easy to waste all the time you gain by dropping out.
My name is Antonin Januska and I run AntJanus, a blog about web development