I’m a college dropout. My father, until last year, was a college dropout. My startup is all dropouts. A bunch of my friends have dropped out of college. Is this saying something about the current education system or is it something to say about our current generation? Before I get into that I should at least give you my backstory so you can get my point of view.
September 2000, I’m six years old starting school for the first time. As far as I can remember I’m excited. Through out primary school I get good marks but my teachers comment that I seem to not be putting enough effort into my work. I could be getting A+’s but I settle for A’s/A-’s. Fast forward a few more years and I’m starting high school. I am once again excited for a change in pace. Being more independent about my schedule and life. After a semester my grades drop from 85-90’s to 60-70’s and stay like that through out the the whole rest of high school. Most of the time I got by classes by “borrowing” other people’s assignments or handing them in extremely late. All my teachers once again commented that I was extremely smart and if I put in some effort I could get on honour role. I never did. I did however enter a contest by Waterloo University and come in second place at my school and top 25 in Canada. Other students knew I was smart but didn’t get why I wasn’t on honour role or anything like that. I just didn’t care.
College is where everything started to change even more. This is where I realized how much further along I was in my “educational” system compared to the rest of my peers and told myself I should try to get on honour role or deans list. I had self-taught myself everything about comp-sci I knew and for a year and a half was ahead of the class so I didn’t have to worry about those so I just focused on my core classes. I didn’t do any assignments during my stay at college but still maintained 60’s for my comp-sci classes and failed my core classes. Why’s this? I just couldn’t care much. I wasn’t interested in what I was learning and the environment was too bland; not engaging enough for me. Eventually I failed too many classes and got “recommended” to leave for a semester. This is where I met Hamed and Ovi and joined Outpost.
My summer at Outpost changed my view on work and school almost 100%. I had known about the big dropouts; Zuckerburg, Gates, Jobs and Newell, but didn’t realize how many other startups were founded by people like me. People who had an idea and realized it could be done without the need for a fancy degree. People who just did things. Self taught and enthusiastic. I found school to hold me back. While the rest of the class learning about loops, I was working with classes. While they were learning trigonometry, I was calculating Pi and getting my TI-83 to do all the work for me. I never felt like school would take me places other than getting a degree and then a job. I wasn’t in to this whole learn at the pace of everyone else stuff. I was in an advanced program during high school and a career program at college. I would expect these programs to be tailored to people who can’t learn at a slow pace. Now to my point.
Dropping out isn’t for everyone, but I will say that if you have an idea and aren’t “feeling it” in school, than take a semester off and see where this idea takes you. Business experience and life experience are almost always worth more than what school can give you in the same time. I plan on going to University, cause I do value a degree as proof of being able to commit, as a mature student because I can’t see myself at college again. I would see myself going back to college if they had a program for self-taught students who want to make a change and not work for large companies but start their own. Startup’s are the foundation for almost all major companies now and probably for the next decade or two. If the educational systems across the world were to have dedicated programs or schools to encourage this self-taught, anything is possible, make it so mentality that startups provide; I’m sure that there would be less “dropouts” and more innovative, unique, and successful startups. Again I still have to say that dropping out is not at all for everyone. Some people might think they’re going to be the next Zuckerburg but are over hyping their idea and ultimately fail. Hence the “take a semester off”, it will also give you a good point of view on how the real world is. Most students are ignorant of how business is ran, how the world is without being force fed information or having their hand held up until late college/university in which they get a rude awakening to life, the universe and everything.