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A Somewhat Balanced View on School and Dropping Out

On Tynan

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.

Thoughts on college, work and having a framework

On Ideas in the Making

I currently go to college, and if it weren't for the fact that it is so cheap due to scholarships and financial aid, and because my parents really want me to graduate, I would have probably dropped out already. It's been said by various bloggers and other minds already : College just isn't an effective place to get the skills required to succeed in life. Unless you're going for a profession that requires a lot of credentials, or need access to institutional level equipment or processes to get your research done (such as say an electron microscope) College just doesn't work. Here are the main problems.

1. Its expensive. I want to mention this one first and underscore it substantially. College isn't cheap, even a state college can end up costing 10-15 thousand dollars a year. or about 40-60 thousand dollars for your diploma. And its not only that, you have to look at the differential, in other words you can't compare going to college versus not going college, you have to compare going to college, with what you give up to go to college. Not only could you have used that time to make 40-60 thousand dollars working minimum wage, gotten some real life work experience, but that gave you money. Thus the actual cost of going to college, comparing it to a minimum wage job, is actually 80-120 thousand dollars. And this is for state 4-year colleges, if its private, I hope you have a scholarship or have very rich parents.

But, it doesn't stop there, College isn't just expensive in dollar terms, but also in terms of time. It is very easy to feel very time-deprived in college, and it can be hard to get side projects done do the cognitive switch penalty (every time you shift attention you have to spend time rebuilding attention or refocusing) When you have 4-5 classes spread around a couple of subjects, maybe a club or sport, a social life, and want to tack on a side project such as a startup, or maybe something like learning some programming, poker, or just relaxing, your time really starts going through the door. You spend countless minutes doing the minutiae like going to and from class, having to meet up with groups, email professors, switch from math, to politics, to a film class, to psychology, then you want to go exercise, maybe go out to eat with friends and still have time to maybe watch a TV show or read up on a passion of yours. It all takes a large toll on your attention.

2. It doesn't train you. Everyone talks about getting an education left and right and how important it is to be educated. Then you go to college and all the professors talk about how important it is to be in class. The truth is I've noticed 90%+ of classes teach you things you could have learned just easily, or probably even better, by just buying 3-5 books on the subject on amazon, and watching a couple of documentaries on the subject. The fact of the matter is humans get better at what they do most, not at what they are taught to do. But wait, isn't that the same? No. A person who spends all day analyzing tennis matches and tennis players gets better at doing just that, analyzing tennis matches and tennis players, they don't get better at tennis. The same goes for college. if you spend all day studying management strategies you get better at doing just that.

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