Friday, September 21, 2012

So… I dropped out of college. And I’m glad that I did

Last few weeks were a bit hectic and interleaved with many thoughts about unknown and unsure future, because I decided to drop out of the university. Yes, decided. I didn’t drop out because it was too difficult for me, quite the opposite really. The exercises and project I did were scored perfect, even got an extra point, didn’t have any trouble with the material. So why would I drop out if I was handling it okay?

The answer is: because it was frustrating the hell out of me. I spent a lot of time working on school projects, travelling around, worrying about things, without really gaining anything that I didn’t already gain myself before or couldn’t gain on my own. I’m a chronic self-educated person, I love to learn and find out how things work, because I’m extremely curious about everything, how everything works and what are the reasons behind it.

So if I love learning, why on Earth (also Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and even Pluto, although it’s not a planet anymore) would I leave college? Well… because it was slowing me down and annoying me. I can learn things myself. I’ve been doing it basically since my early childhood, by myself. I took various devices apart and used the parts to make my own “inventions”, I drew various machines, and I’ve read so many books when I was just a little kid.

However all the “official stuff” at college is just annoying, I don’t need it, I don’t like it, but I have to do it if I want to pass officially and get a degree. I have to do pointless projects that are thrown away after scoring them, I have to study stuff I already taught myself before, go to some exercises at predetermined times and spent a lot of time wandering from one place to another. Instead, I want to learn things I want and need how I want and use the newly gained skills on my own projects and ideas that are actually useful to me and/or others.

And that’s the reason why I dropped out. I don’t need the college, I don’t want it. What I need is knowledge and skills and I can get this on my own, in fact, I’ve already gathered many, so I’m able to work on various projects and turn many of my ideas into reality. I’ve simply chosen an alternative way to learn and satisfy my curiosity – on my own and this way makes me much happier, makes me feel much more free, comfortable and relaxed. I can finally work on my ideas in peace, instead of stressing out all the time, which is rather detrimental to everything.

So I’ve started a company, well still am in process of starting it and working on the first starter project, getting it ready to release and hopefully succeed. I know for sure that I’ll try to push and keep turning my ideas into reality, one after another (and maybe even in different order) no matter what, because I’m fueled by my passion for creating things and curiosity, not only about existing things, but also about how will the next crazy idea I get turn out.

Some people try to stop me, try to tell me to finish the college, because I need college, because everybody needs college. I think that’s wrong way of thinking though. You don’t need the college to be good. You need knowledge, understanding and skills and college just might be a way of obtaining them and if you’re happy with how it works, then by all means, go to the college, but if you want to pursue alternative way of education… well why not? There will be always naysayers, but your life and future is in your hands, not theirs.

The only problem is that having a degree is still basically the only official way of indicating that you’re educated and some employers or even regular people might look down at you if you don’t have one. But I think that there should be changes to this system, I would actually go as far as saying that the current system is quite wrong.

I find the whole idea of a title before the name indicating the knowledge and skills of the person quite silly. It’s just a few letters, meaning that the person passed through some exams. Of course, there are many great and really smart people, who even have multiple degrees and really deserve them and do awesome things, but there are also the opposites, people with degrees who are simply put still quite dumb. You can have two people, one with a degree and one without, where the one without is way more skilled and creative than the one with. It’s not really a guarantee of a smart and skilled person it just means they managed to pass some exams.

What really matters is the actual skill of the person and his/her work, it’s the actual knowledge and understanding of things that matters and that’s what we should focus at. Do you think that people with many degrees who work on awesome projects wouldn’t be able to work on these projects without the degrees? They would, they would still be the same people with same talents, skills and knowledge.

I believe that the true measure of someone’s education is his own work, showcase of what he/she did and is capable of doing, rather than passing some unified test, by specifically studying for it. Even remembering as many facts as possible is not really the way to do things, unless you want to win “Who wants to be a millionaire” or similar. What counts is the ability to use the information to make something new or to analyze something or just use that information somehow, but knowing it by memory is not very useful. There’s always certain level of memorized information, which differs in various areas, but it should come naturally, instead of pushing it to your head.

However, current system doesn’t really favor self-education and alternative ways of learning and studying. I managed to make my own processor architecture and programming languages and quite an unique ones, even collected a few prestigious science awards for them, while still being a high school student, because I learned how to do it on my own and figured out many things myself too and there are many people who got a computer science degree and still aren’t capable of doing anything like that, so what does that tell you about the degree as a measure? It certainly puts things in perspective.

There are some more open employers though, who rather want to see examples of person’s work in order to hire him, although it’s not a guarantee that they’ll accept you solely on your achievements. I’ve got quite simpler situation since I’m starting my own company to pursue my creative interests, but some other people might not want to do this and are stuck with the official system.

Also there’s one last big issue with the official system which comes to my mind: highly differing quality of schools and lecture and study materials. There are multiple schools teaching essentially the same field even in my little country, yet their quality and requirements differ a lot. While one university is tons of work to get through, the other one is basically a breeze, yet you get the same degree from both of them. Is that fair? What does this tell you about the meaning of a degree?

These are all the reasons why I don’t like the way education system works and why it should be changed. There should be more focus on the actual skills and understanding and work of the people. Ideally I imagine that people would cooperate on making lectures, articles and other materials for others, they would do it once and properly, instead of doing it many times separately with varying quality.

Also the materials should be available to everyone, anytime. Are you just curious how white cells work? Or do you need to understand better operation of microprocessors for one of your ideas for a project? Are you 25? 50? 12? 80? White? Black? Green? Doesn’t matter, it’s for everyone, everywhere, anytime. Little kids should be led to be curious about things, how they work, so they would learn themselves. If they would struggle with this, a guidelines and program could be prepared using these free and public materials to aid them with learning and providing the essentials, similarly to the current system, but there should be more freedom, the program shouldn’t be enforced, instead students should pursue their own inventive projects and ideas, for which they would need to gather information from these sources.

And their projects and work would be their official “degree”. If they’re active and creative, it would show and employers would be more than interested in them. If they keep copying others, as some do in school now, just to get a degree, it would be apparent too, as it’s not so easy to cheat this system. Students wouldn’t be stressed all the time. Instead they could relax and enjoy the learning with clear mind. And by student, I don’t mean someone enrolled in particular university, I mean everyone.

Everyone could learn things for their own life, without having to enroll anywhere, it’s the age of computers and internet and it allows just that. It might’ve been difficult to do something like this years ago, but now it’s not, so why not? Wouldn’t you give such system a chance? After all, we should learn from our mistakes and constantly improve things for better, instead of stagnating and keeping them old and how they used to be. If there’s a chance to make things better, we should grab it, instead of sticking with the old ways.

I know that I want to support such system, but I’m currently at the beginning, at the beginning of my own company and there’s a lot of work to do, but I have what’s the most dearest to me – my mind, my ideas and passion to change and create things. And now that I dropped out of college, I’m free to do that.


  1. "While one university is tons of work to get through, the other one is basically a breeze, yet you get the same degree from both of them. Is that fair? What does this tell you about the meaning of a degree?"

    This is a legendary statement you have made. I agree we should have a choice of what we want to learn instead of being forced to learn useless off-topic subjects for a degree. The education system has to change. This article should bring in a new beginning.

    1. Thank you for the comment.
      Yes. Forcing someone to learn something is not very effective. It's waste of time, money and other resources, because it just makes them cram it in their head for an exam and then just forget most of it.

      People shouldn't study because they have to pass some exam and get some grade. They should study either because the topic interests them (even if they have no practical use for it) or because they need it to create something, to do some piece of work or even make a new technology.

      Yes, the education system needs to change. There are already people working on that for some time and I would love to join them and help to make a difference.

      The more voices are there supporting more free and more intelligent education system, the higher are the chances of it happening.

    2. Even worse, most people hate math and a lot of things because they're forced to learn it too soon or too late. People's curiosity is killed systematically.

      Do you know Sudbury Valley School?

    3. Exactly - that's the point - children are naturally curious about things, but the current official education system works in a way that it kills this natural curiosity.

      I'm not saying people are learning nothing in schools now (as some people try to counter-argument by that, although it's logical fallacy known as reductio ad absurdum), but they could learn much MORE and much BETTER with some changes.

      I don't think I know Sudbury Valley School, maybe I saw it mentioned somewhere, however I know of some other similarly themed schools in other countries.

  2. I fully agree with you! And I admire you for being so fearless and leave college, no matter what other people think, everyone should act like you. I'm sure you'll succeed at everything you want to do, you are undoubtedly very smart, good luck.

  3. Inspiration is a standout amongst other school think about tips to see more utilize when you require an approach to keep yourself on the right "study track"