Recently I made the decision to withdraw from the University of Kentucky. I did not make this choice lightly, but rather spent a lot of time pouring over all the possible outcomes of my decision. You might be asking why I titled this "Why I canceled my college subscription" as no one really calls college a "subscription" but I disagree. College is but one more business out there that takes your money and provides something in response and since it is one time fee for "unlimited" access to classes it can best be classified as a subscription.
For the longest time I thought the life consisted of the following Born->Elementary School->Middle School->High School->College->Job->Family->Death. Yes maybe throw in a few different jobs but by and large that is how humans "live", it's how my parents did it, how their parents did it and so on. However as my parents found out when I was young, I always ask "Why". Why is the sky blue, Why do I have to eat my vegetables, why do I have to go to school? That last question was always answered with "So you can get a job and be successful". For a long time, 21 years to be exact, I believed that whole-heartedly. I worked hard in school and got good grades up until college. My first semester in college I got a 3.5 GPA and was very happy with that but the next semester it fell to a 2.21.
Why did my GPA fall? Was it due to joining a Fraternity? No, because my first semester I had my highest GPA to date. Was it laziness? Maybe a little bit but how does student go from 3.5-4.0 levels of performance in high school to sub-3.0/2.0 GPA's in college? I'll tell you why my GPA fell: I got a job.
I got my first programming job near the end of my first semester in college at APAX Software. To a young web developer this job was amazing, someone was going to pay ME to do what I love to do. I had taught myself PHP/MySQL/JS in high school and been tasked by the school to build a few webapps for them. I stayed with APAX for a little over a year and I found myself constantly blowing off class and school work to do real work instead. Yes, college is not cheap (Especially if you are out of state) and I was practically throwing money away when I didn't go to class but I was selfish (My parents were paying for college) and young and all I saw was that the more hours I put in at APAX the more money I saw in my pocket.
After working at APAX for about a year I realized I had hit a ceiling, I had maxed out the hours they would give me (less that 20hrs/week) and I was stuck in the cycle of doing the same repetitive, mindless, and boring work over and over again. So what started as an attempt to brach out and do some freelance work on the side to make ends meet, turned into me taking a job at Able Engine, where I am now.
Able Engine was able to provide me with lot of opportunities to grow as programmer and expand more into mobile development. I loved working on projects and the first summer I spent with them was awesome, I was making more money than at my previous job, I had all the hours I could ever want, and I got a desk to work at (Which seems trivial but I didn't have one at APAX so it was a big deal to me).
Then school started up again and I had to cut back on hours to make time for classes, studying, and Fraternity. I always looked at college as a means to an end but that started to feel more and more like a lie I told myself to keep going. Then spring break my junior year rolled around and that's when the excrement hit the turbine. I decided to stay in Lexington and work instead of go to PCB or Daytona as I had in years past, and it was by far the best week of the year (Well at least a close second to the weekend my little brothers got initiated). I was able to forget all about school and focus on work between the hours of 9am-6pm and then when I got off work that was it. I had nothing to worry about, no stress, no problems. I was free to work on side-projects of mine and hang out with my dog (Who came down for a 2-week visit).
Then reality set back in and school started up. I went to 2 classes and knew instantly that I was wasting my time. Nothing I had "learned" in college had benefited me in regards to my job and I was paying $5K/Semester and shouldering another $5K in loans/semester. I realized that I was literally throwing away money and digging myself into debt. I stopped and thought back to my "beliefs" on how you were supposed to live our life (Born->Elementary School->Middle School->High School->College->Job->Family->Death) and noticed that wait, I have a job. I have a job that was in the field that I love, a job that I enjoy, and a job that doesn't care if I have a degree or not, a job that is sought after in my industry and frankly I am really good at it. I logged into myUK the next day and dropped all but one of my classes. (I am doing well in that class and it makes leaving UK easier if I don't drop all my classes)
So why did I cancel my college subscription? Because I saw no value in it, it was getting me nowhere and costing me an arm and a leg. The only thing I will take away from college are my Fraternity Brothers. The cost of joining FIJI and being a Brother was pennies on the dollar when compared to tuition. I now see that all the times I remembered "good times" in college was when I was with my Fraternity, everything I did that I was proud of was because of my Fraternity, all the important people and connections I made was because I was in FIJI. So yes I am sad that I will not be an active undergraduate brother my senior year of college but it is not as if I will never see these people again. The friends I have made in FIJI will be my friends forever. FIJI is not for college days alone.
So what's next for me? I will continue to work at my current company while I spend my free time developing a product with one of my FIJI Brothers, but that is a whole other blog post and still is a little ways off. I encourage you to analyze parts of your life and drill down to why you do the things you do, what motivates you and why does it motivate you? Break things down to their smallest components and answer that burning question: "Why". Because maybe, just like like me you will see that you are wasting your time on an extra step. Never let people scaring you out of taking a risk because I know a few people who took a risk and it seems to be working out for them. In closing never let anything get in the way of your dreams and never stop dreaming, the second that you do all is lost and you will end up in a job you hate and a life full of remorse for past action and regret for lost opportunities; and that, is no way to live.