Should You Drop Out?

I’m writing this as a dropout. This is the advice I would have wanted someone to give me before doing so.

First up, why do you even want to drop out? Secondly, why are you listening to some stranger on the internet tell you what to do? Let me tell you something: If you need to base your decision off of what other people say, you won’t make it as a drop out.

Why? Because to be successful as a dropout, you have to have a fiercely independent mind. If you’re googling “should I dropout?”, you probably don’t have one. If you’re asking in Facebook groups if you should drop out, you probably don’t have one. If you’re asking all your friends if you should drop out, you probably don’t have one.

Unless you’re asking a group of dropouts who have had their own success if you should drop out, everyone is going to tell you to get a degree. That’s just a fact. If you know some really great people, they might say to do what you think is best for you. But if you don’t, then the helm of your life is steered by the winds of whatever the people around you are telling you to do.

I don’t listen to people who tell me what to do. I don’t trust their advice. I don’t ever tell people what to do, or what they should do. I just try to get people to listen to themselves. If I told people what to do, it’d weigh heavy on my conscience.

People will tell you to get a degree for a myriad of reasons; They got one, so everyone should get one. They had success and happened to have a degree, so their degree is what brought them success. They think they couldn’t have learned what they wanted to learn without it, so you won’t be able to either. It will make life easier. The list goes on. There can be a million justifications.

You need to be able to make this decision on your own because it is the first in a long series of decisions you will need to make on your own. You will need to be able to come to your own conclusions and decide. And then you will decide what you will do to support yourself. And then you will decide what you want to learn.

A very important thing for anyone, dropout or not, is to always be learning. I asked an older software developer in a café what he thought the most important aspects of success were throughout his career: “Keeping an open mind, and always being willing to learn.” I learned something from him.

This can mean looking for things to learn and deciding what to learn. This can mean designing your own curriculum. This can mean figuring out with humility what you don’t know that you need to know — and then honing in on that knowledge. This can mean finding resources that you think will be beneficial to you; whether they are online, in books, or elsewhere. Knowledge can come from anywhere; being humble about this has always helped me. You can decide for yourself what having an open mind means and where your knowledge can come from.

Be certain, however, that choosing to your own curriculum also requires the discipline to actually learn the material. There will be no impetus to study a subject aside from your desire to learn, there will be no one hounding you for getting poor grades, there will be no retakes. There will only be yourself, and this is why discipline helps. You can always start small in fostering discipline. I just try to solve at least one challenging problem a day.

You will need to be able to introspect and figure out when the voices in your head are coming from someone else as opposed to yourself. You aren’t Steve Jobs, you aren’t Mark Zuckerberg, and you aren’t your parents. You are you, and only you will be able to make the decisions that you feel are right for you.

Think hard. Choose wisely.