Jumping back into college


If you have read my last post, you know that I'm on a mission to address my fears of regret and failure. The game plan is to trust and do. So why on earth do I think college would be a good place to do so? After all, it seems like an undisputable axiom in the tech community that college is overrated, unnecessary and overpriced. It's just four years of partying and procrastination. The dropouts are celebrated like they have reached salvation. Let the messiah Steve speak:

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. [1]

(I will say that the situation may be different for me because of the substantial financial support I'm receiving.)

Well, I'm here to say that I think college deserves more credit for what it can do to people that are in situations like mine:

  • Light-hearted: In my observation, more professional, mature environments tend to be quite intense. There is a lot of pressure, a lot of cynicism. Working long hours is glorified. Especially in American college, everything is taken a lot lighter, you are encouraged to explore with no immediate payoff necessary. You are not forced to perpetually think: "Am I being optimally efficient and effective?".

  • Procrastination: Procrastination is not always bad. There is also the good kind of procrastination. The kind that fuels your curiosity, where you lose yourself for hours in a new topic. It's nearly essential for creative people

And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. [1]

  • Diversity: Obviously, in any good ecosystem, you are bound to meet amazing people from different backgrounds. But let's be honest: They tend to be overwhelmingly white males from privileged backgrounds. Slightly exaggerated but you get my point. If you go to the right college, the racial, socio economic, cultural, academic diversity in all of its facets is one of the richest you will ever get to experience.

  • Lack of Responsibility: Similarly, you basically get a free pass for four years. Peter Thiel has always criticized that college allows young people to not having to think about their future for four years. I come to think that this is not necessarily a bad thing. When you have nothing on the line, only then you can truly experiment. Failure becomes demystified when you have literally nothing to lose.

While my primary motivation for going back to college is to get a degree for easier future immigration into the US, I am incredibly excited for college. Only time will tell.

[1] Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Speech

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