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A Somewhat Balanced View on School and Dropping Out

I dropped out of school during my sophomore year of college. I was a little bit scared to do it, but I followed through because I was certain that I didn't want to get a normal job or do anything else that would make use of a degree. Dropping out was one of the best decisions I've made, and it pushed me towards the life that I really wanted to live.

However, just because dropping out was right for me doesn't mean that it's right for everyone, or for you. I think that the school system is trending towards obsolescence and is a far worse value proposition that it was in previous eras, but that doesn't mean that it's worthless or that it's not the right choice for a lot of people. You might be surprised to find out that when people email me to ask if they should drop out, I tell many of them that I think they should stay in school.

When I talk about dropping out of school, by the way, I mean dropping out of college. Unless you are home schooled or have a very good plan for learning useful life and social skills, I think that at least completing high school is a good idea. I also think that taking some college is a good idea for many people. Going for a semester is a fairly small investment of time to figure out if it's a good fit for you, and you can also completely disregard course guidelines and take interesting things like Chinese and scuba diving.

If you're in high school or entering college, the most important thing you should realize is that you alone are responsible for your education and your life, and that you should use the next four years in the best way possible. Forget about labels like graduate and dropout, and focus on what is best going to prepare you for the life that you want to have.

They don't care about your resume. They want to know you can get things done.


Hi Sebastian,

I found your site via browsing Ramit Sethi's Delicious bookmarks. Love it. I know I'm not offering a whole lot of value, but I resonate quite a bit with your writing and was hoping you could share some insight about what you'd do in this situation:

Throughout college, I played online poker professionally and operated a coaching and staking business. I continued playing until recently, and am currently two years out of school. I devoted so much time to poker that my skills in other areas are lacking. However, I have been studying HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL and have landed two clients for basic web design. I don't want to draw into my savings any further, so I am looking to work at a company where I can build my skills and work with passion.

I'm unsure how I can expect any company to hire me based on a two year resume gap filled with a career that many people would consider "pure luck." Resumes typically don't matter if you can demonstrate a great level of skill in an area, but as my best skill is currently still exploiting tendencies in a game of Heads Up Texas Holdem, I'm a bit stuck for ideas.

Any advice would be greatly appreciate. Thanks in advance for spending your time even reading this email.

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