This is a post I have been wanting to write for awhile and am now actually putting it into action!
First up, is school worth it? Why not just drop out and move to SF and work?
Well. This is my approach. School can teach you several very, very important lessons. School humbles you. Sometimes the startup culture can make you delusional in terms of how talented you are, your friends are, and how “genius” you really are. On the other hand, school puts you on a playing field with incredibly talented, competitive people. I have never had to work this hard for my classes and grades before. I hate it sometimes, but at the same time it is forcing me to learn to work incredibly hard and intensely focus.
When you get into a class with 500+ other talented, focused CS majors, it is terrifying, and inspiring. These people are all very intelligent, and it is up to you to perform as well and (hopefully) better than them. It is totally up to you. If you slack off, you know that there is going to be a majority of students who dont, and will kick your butt on the next exam. You need to rise to the challenge and realize sometimes things are not just easy and placed in front of you, instead you need to work very hard for them.
Define yourself. Never just be another Engineering, LS&A, or Music student. Stand out. Find your passions and make school work for you. For me, I really want to learn more about CS and the concepts behind it, but at the same time I need to advance my understanding of business, design, and many other disciplines. You shouldn’t necessarily fit the stock template for undergrad computer science engineering, or whatever program you are placed into.
One thing I did not expect coming to college for a technical degree was that I miss my english, literature, history, and other liberal arts classes. Sometimes, something from AP Gov or AP Lit would inspire a train of thought in my head that lead to a cool idea for a side project or app. When you only have technical classes, I personally feel less creative and less enlightened in certain areas. While I do really value getting an amazing amount of technical depth into Computer Science type stuff, I do miss the blend of that science with liberal arts. I think the connection of those two disciplines makes you a better thinker.
So, what do I think of the Startup World?
I love it. But. You can only appreciate the startup culture and world after seeing the real world. The startup culture is not really that realistic at times. Maybe your idea really isn’t that great. Maybe you don’t need 2 million dollars to build an app and pay rent in downtown SF. Maybe you should actually have a business plan before you raise 10 million dollars. I love the freedom to innovate, but if you don’t have the background of critical thinking introduced in school, you can never really take full advantage of the amazing opportunities offered out in the Bay Area. That being said, I plan to do my own startup one day. The “unrealistic” aspects of Silicon Valley are also what allows such cool things to be created.
Thoughts on Life.
Although it may not really seem like that much time, I have learned a ton since starting college. From the small things (like learning that actually cleaning your room, doing laundry, and successfully cooking make you feel better) to much broader things. College teaches you to intensely work and focus. There is something tremendously valuable about learning how to take content and master it.
When you have classes or challenges that seem very difficult, don’t be afraid to attack it. I knew coming into this year one of my EECS classes would be challenging. But, I am determined to do well. This means making it my top priority over everything else.
Again. Define yourself before others define you. Don’t let others tell you what is morally right or wrong, Don’t let others tell you what you should be interested in, or care about. And most importantly, don’t let others define your personality, style, and approach to life. And, if you are not at a point in your life where you feel comfortable defining yourself, then surround yourself with people you consider “better” than yourself in whatever ways you want. You will become like them. Or better.