Holberton school personal essay — Devin Withoft

Growing up in the public education system — I hardly felt challenged. So I stuck in my lower level classes, and took each lesson not as some interesting insight into the world, but just as data I needed to remember to regurgitate into order to pass classes. I learned to quickly extract this information leaving me to shift my thoughts onto other things, like which computer games i’d play later, for instance.

It is kind of sad how easily it was for me to coast through high school with this mindset, undisciplined and distracted as my mind became. But then there was math. I “hated” math like no other subject, because it had challenged the lazy mindset I have developed for school. It taunted me to fully engross my learning capabilities and organizational skills. But I was able to almost repress this call entirely by opting to take the simplest math classes possible.

So I eventually graduated and thought that getting a philosophy degree from a state school was somehow my calling. It didn’t take me long to realize that I go through the entirety of college with my aforementioned attitude and graduate with high grades. However, the older I had gotten the more I was able to understand the separation between “learning” and “passing classes” and started imagining a future where I had earned a degree, but learned virtually nothing. This, and other complications with my school’s crediting system led me to drop out.

But I hadn’t left empty handed, as a few classes I have took showed me how learning could really be fun and active for me (as well as a challenge). The classes were introduction to formal logic and of-course a math class, college algebra to be exact. These shifted my paradigm and brought along new behaviors to boot: working to keep my attention, meeting professors in office hours, and spending more than 30 minutes on a homework assignment. It took a lot of effort and persistence on my part, but I was able to engage with and complete the course material. This gave me an immense sense of accomplishment, I remember one day thinking to myself that math had been beautiful this whole time but I just had not opened up to it.

These days, I lay around without much of a purpose. My parents are assisting me financially with rent, but say they will stop if I do not attend school. Having realized the enjoyment of math/formal logic I knew if there was anything to go back to school for, it was engineering. Studying such a difficult field would require me to use all of my facilities, thus keeping me engaged. Because of credit issues with my past college giving quarter units, which really cant transfer to other schools, I felt discouraged that I would never get a solid chance at education again. Nor was I ready to restart a degree at the same school, since the school would embrace semester credits itself in 2018 (nullifying many of the classes I had already completed).

But engineering had appealed to me because I knew it was cognitive enough to keep my attention, and would help my brain even outside of the field. Currently living in Berkeley myself I know I am in very close proximity to a myriad of opportunities for programmers, and feel desired to take advantage of them. This alone makes software engineering the most relevant path, as opportunity waits next door. It would be a very great experience for me to learn about the industry in the same town that it is largely centered, and would prepare me for a career.

Considering i’ve been using a computer for almost my own life, it would be nice to finally comprehend what makes programs work. I’ve had a lot of help doing things on the computer through programs made by individuals to solve a specific program, I’d love to use my knowledge to help develop free programs of my own and help others just the same. I could also use my knowledge to assist myself if I needed to solve a problem through software.

I recently started learning about places outside of a formal college that I could learn how to code, and have become interested in them. Ideally I would teach myself, but in being outside of a teacher-student based learning system i’m afraid I would lack the discipline to learn very much, living with a desire I can’t pursue.

Learning under the guidance of others would encourage me to keep building my active learning habits and thrive as a student. Especially learning in a class with only 24 others I would feel comfortable in asking any relevant questions to help me understand the lessons a lot more holistically. After reading the extensive list of all the very accomplished faculty members I know just a tiny amount of one-on-one attention from my teachers would lead me to succeed in programming through the Holberton school. Especially with a curriculum of two years this would help me to soak up (and retain) the information presented to me. I like this short amount of time because I want to find work in the immediate future, as opposing to feeling bogged down by schools that seem to artificially extend their length by throttling the pace of education. I can already sense that this program is not like that, nor is it solely out for profit as there is no ungodly upfront tuition cost.

Something that had really caught my eye about the Holberton program is how the degrees are delivered using block-chain technology . I am very fascinated by Bitcoin and other “Altcoins”, and believe in their future so much that virtually all of the money I have is invested in such crypto-currencies. Just the mere mentioning of it makes me excited and gets me thinking about all I could possibly learn about such new technologies through and after completing this program. Scrolling through the list of staff, I was even able to find someone who runs a coin of her own! I would be nothing less than self fulfilled to have a programming job with San Fransisco based Bitcoin exchanges like Coinbase or Kraken, or even working on a coin/coin program of my own. I see block-chain technology as the way of the future developing in real time in front of us, and I’d love to be one of the hard working individuals who helped pioneer it even more forward!

This is why I want to attend and feel I will succeed in the Holberton school. To make reading my response easier, I will leave any relevant sentences that pertain to the original two questions in bold.

Thank you

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