I am writing from Silicon Valley, as I work for a education technology start up. I just graduated from a small high school in Michigan. Seven days after graduation I was getting off an airplane 2,500 miles from home: no family, no friends, just me and my future. That was 50 days ago.
My adventure has been astonishing, from crashing rooftop parties in downtown San Diego, to eating Clam Chowder on the oceanfront in San Francisco. In my hometown the local paper does a yearly story called “Where that grad is now?” It is about graduates and where they are 10 years past graduation. This year, after having been out of high school for only 50 days, they wrote about me!
My last few weeks in Michigan were some of the worst. After living in such a small town and knowing virtually everybody, my plan of moving out after graduation was judged by many. My plan to skip college and immediately start working on something that I believe in was frowned upon. Our society is beginning to think that without college nobody can succeed, and that is far from true. One day in class, my Web Design Teacher said, “Jack do you think you will succeed without going to college? Do you think Steve Jobs succeeded without college?”. Feeling dumbfounded, I answered, “Steve Jobs was a college drop out”.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area has changed my life. When I tell people how young I am, they applaud me and I feel proud that I am following my dream. College isn’t for everyone, and I think it is a shame that people who opt-out are being looked down upon, especially in my situation. A kid following his dreams? The negative response that I was getting, turned directly into motivation, I felt like my job was to prove them wrong and succeed. I am not against college. It is the best kind of investment, investing in your quality of life. I too invested in my quality of life – just not in the same way as everyone else.
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