It’s time for a change.
Fifteen years ago, I started school. Seven years ago, I finished primary school and started high school. Three years ago, I finished school. And two years ago, I started university.
For me, attending university was a natural course of action. The question was always one of what I would study at university, not whether I would. In my last years at school, I stressed over this question, as most graduating high-schoolers do.
My choices became clearer to me as I came closer to the end of my degree. I decided that engineering was where my talents were.
In the meantime, I was approaching having spent nine years of my life writing software. Programming had always been something that I’d enjoyed, and I’d become relatively good at it. It was natural that I could take my talent and apply it to a career.
However, I didn’t.
I was afraid that doing something I loved as a career would cause me to eventually become sick of it, and that wasn’t something I wanted.
So I chose electrical engineering, in the hope that it’d be similar enough to what I’d done and enjoyed previously, but different enough to prove a challenge.
I’ve just completed the second year of my five-year degree. This year, I failed four subjects: three math subjects and an electrical engineering subject.
It’s not that I found the subjects particularly hard. They were challenging, certainly, but it wasn’t impossible to overcome that.
No, instead, it’s that I stopped caring. I stopped caring about my grades. I stopped caring about what I was learning. I just didn’t care.
For the most part, I’ve found my subjects to be quite similar to subjects at school. You put in enough effort, and you do well. The material you learn is sometimes interesting, but mostly you just learn it to learn it.
But I have noticed one important thing. The subjects that I care about the most, the subjects that I enjoy, and consequently, the subjects that I do best in are the computing systems subjects.
For me, the logical puzzles and strange syntax just click. When given problems to solve, it’s intuitive for me to look at them and immediately have the outline of a solution in my head. I can see the solution to problems before other people have worked out where to start.
I look at a problem and my immediate thought is to work out how to solve it. I love the challenge presented, and I love making things that solve it.
And yet, I continue studying the other subjects in the vain hope that I’ll learn to enjoy them just as much. Someday, I think to myself, it will start being enjoyable.
I’ve changed immensely in the past two years.
After leaving home, mainly for practical reasons, I’ve become a different person entirely. Although I love my parents immensely, I could never really become an adult until I’d moved out. I didn’t know this until after the fact, of course.
However, there was one significant part of me that didn’t change: my plan in life. Up until I left home, I’d stayed the course. I’d moved from school into university without a second thought, just because it never really occurred to me to do otherwise. I hadn’t really considered my choice, if you could even call it that.
But as I grew as a person, I realised that I needed to reevaluate. While continuing on the path had a familiarity to it, I couldn’t ignore the other possibilities staring me in the face.
I’ve always said to myself that I’d rather do something I loved and earn a pittance than do something I hated and be rich.
However, I don’t think I’d ever really thought about just what that means. It was a set of empty words to me, not something I truly lived my life by.
I think it’s time that I stopped repeating hollow phrases to myself and actually did something about it.
I’m dropping out of university to follow my passion.
It’s a decision that I should have made a long time ago, and I regret not making it earlier.
I still have concerns that I’ll end up hating what I do, but change is something I have to accept and deal with if it happens.
Maybe this is change for the worse, and I end up deciding this isn’t what I want to do. I’m okay with that now, because at least I will have tried.
But maybe, just maybe, this is the best decision I’ll make in a long time.
I’m now taking serious offers for full-time work. If you’re hiring a WordPress developer, or know someone who is, contact me at email@example.com
16 thoughts on “Change”
I understand where you’re coming from entirely. I too just completed second year, with absolutely abysmal grades, simply because I didn’t give a shit. Coding cool things is my passion, not rote learning pointless information to pass perpetually-impending examinations.
You’re a really talented developer; I’m entirely confident you’ll do great in the workforce. And if you’d rather be building the things you want, that’s cool too. I would buy a completed copy of your Feast RSS plugin in a heartbeat. 😉
Thanks Shane! Best of luck in your studies, and don’t be afraid to follow your passions 🙂
This echo’s my own experiences. I dropped out of a PhD in chemistry to take up development full-time. It has turned out to be the best move I ever made and I do not regret the decision.
I didn’t know that! You learn something everyday. 🙂
This is a path I’ve taken myself, only I was in school and had the career as well (my flavor was banking and finance). I was good at it, but had zero interest.
I was miserable. But my fear was that if I had started doing development work full time, I’d begin to hate it, too. I was wrong. I love it now more than ever.
So I think you’re gonna do fine.
Unintentional pun? 😉
Thanks for the encouraging words. 🙂
As a parent of people older than you – then yes, drop out if you no longer care. To a large extent, university is pointless (depending) For you, it’s probably better you stop now. Follow that passion because you CAN earn money. You don;t need to go to school to learn how to code for WordPress. Jump on in!
The only reason I finished my Counselling degree is because I had 2 internship credits let and at that point it was silly not to finish. I was already working full time building sites when I graduated.
Good job making the decision earlier than I did. Good luck
To speak as someone who has considered dropping out numerous times, I’ve ultimately stayed at uni because of the personal connections I have with people here; I undoubtedly could’ve dropped out and stayed in Glasgow and still seen people, but I would’ve lost the freedom to spend as much time with my friends and with such flexibility in my schedule.
I’ve basically been doing joint CS and linguistics, which while I feel like I’ve learnt little from the CS side of the degree (this isn’t to say nothing; I’ve certainly learnt more about OSes, for example) has probably treated me well: I probably could have done just linguistics, and probably got more from that side, but from one POV the CS has mostly taken little time and as such has provided me some sort of relief from work while also giving me a piece of paper at the end of it.
What has helped me, more than anything else, with CS while at uni, has been having incredibly knowledgeable people around me whom I can ask for help when I need it. Without that, I’d probably still be more or less entirely lost around any sort of formal methods work. In a sense, yes, you get that in industry too: but it’s not quite the same, as one is likely to have people specialized in more or less the same subfield around you.
Is it worth it? I dunno, it depends what you want out of it. If research is interesting for its own sake, then there’s certainly big advantages to it (and one is far more likely to get a research job with a degree than otherwise); if it’s not, then to a fair few a CS degree is worth little (to many, I’d argue it’s worthwhile to have an understanding of the underlying theory behind software engineering (SE), as people tend to be far better than that upon starting a CS degree than CS itself).
But, that all said, go with what makes you happy. Merely moving onto work doesn’t necessarily exclude ever going to university; you can certainly do so at a later date if/when you have a desire to do so.
So much of what you said, I can relate to. I previously had a decent career as a house painter, but I hated it. I managed to make the switch to full-time design/development thanks to a risky and generous hire by WebDevStudios and I’ll never look back. I have the same love/knack for problem-solving and had the same fears of full-time employment becoming a burden and source of resentment. Best advice, find an employer who will let your role grow as you grow. The beauty of this career is you’ll NEVER know everything and turning your work into a craft is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in life. In fact, the only way I stuck with the career that I hated for 10+ years was by converting it to a craft. I became very good at it, and that in itself was it’s own reward. Now I’m in a career I love, honing my craft as I solve new & challenging problems every day. I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a developer who hates his job. Just saying. 🙂
I am glad that I just finished my university degree, had to struggle a lot to finish and I hated every bit of it. Though, I passed and I am happy for it. Now I am doing what I always wanted to do.
A talented developer like you wouldn’t regret I can say for sure. Talent, in our field never regrets. Best wishes for the future 🙂
All the best, Ryan! I’m sure you’ll do brilliant things. Looking forward to seeing where you end up! 🙂
I originally went to college as a Math major. I switched to Comp. Sci. because they offered me a scholarship that heavily cut down on the amount I would owe after school, and most of the classes were pretty much the same.
Best decision I ever made.
If the full-time job thing doesn’t work out, or if the offer isn’t right (be selective), then also consider switching to a CS degree instead. Most of the classes are the same (the EE credits still count for a lot there), and the classes that are pure CS focused really do help hone your chosen craft in the long run.
Of course, if college isn’t your thing, that’s cool too. But it isn’t all about the actual job you do. In my view, college is about expanding the way you think into different areas. I took every CS class available, even for the ones I didn’t need for the degree, because I was interested.. and in the long run, it changed my perspective and ways of thought.
Since graduating 14 years ago, my perspective has changed again, at least two or three times. But I’m always extremely happy to have that background knowledge and experience. Hey, work isn’t everything. 😉
In case you need to convince someone else that quitting can be a good thing, you can refer them to the Freakonomics podcast episode The Upside of Quitting. There is nothing wrong with taking a conscious decision that the current path is not right for you, and you want to explore another one. Especially if the risk is low, as in your case: you seem smart, and able to work in a field that desperately needs smart workers. You already have the main thing you can get at a university: an open mind and contact with bright people. Good luck!
Congratulations on your decision. It,s your life and yo will continue learn as you live it. There is no such thing as a wrong decision! Not making one at all is wrong!!!
Go for it Ryan and the very best of luck.
Lots of love Nanna & Poppa