It was during my first semester at college when I realized everything could be going a lot quicker. I found out exactly how to make that happen. This blog is for people who want to shave semesters off their university education and start living sooner.
Before I get into the mission, here’s a little about me:
I was born 1 December 1992 and was raised off of Red River Street in Austin until age 9, when my parents decided to move out past the suburbs to a deserted place called Bee Caves. I went to a suburban high school 15 minutes away by car. I was in the school marching band, which was an time-intensive activity. After three years, I had had enough of it, and quit — this was my first taste of the freedom I would come to expect. My senior year in high school was a breeze without marching band, and my last semester of high school I got home every day at 1:00 pm.
I had more time than I knew what to do with, so I decided to teach myself a second language. I had studied Spanish in high school, and my girlfriend was interested in Italian. Italian didn’t last long, and my girlfriend eventually got busy with school, so I switched to learning French on my own. It’s been about 15 months since, and I can read, write, understand, and speak French reasonably well (though I wish I had the opportunity to learn it in France, it would have only taken about 3 months).
My summer was spent lazily working on websites (I have been a freelance web programmer since 2009) and starting projects. I started AbletonOp with an electronic musician friend of mine, and No Enemies with his girlfriend.
My first day of orientation at the University of Texas was spent running all over campus, trying to change my major from Physics to Linguistics. I liked physics, and was good at it, but languages were my new passion. I signed up for Accelerated Swedish, Intro to Ancient Egypt, Intro to Linguistics, and Caribbean Literature & Film. I received AP credit for 2 semesters of calculus, 2 semesters of English, and 8 hours of physics. At the close of the fall semester, I signed up for Accelerated Swedish II, European Folktales, Phonetics, and Bad Language (a linguistics course on profanity, it was a good time).
I spent my winter vacation time figuring out if I really wanted to continue studying linguistics, or switch to the much more lucrative and practical computer science degree. But pursuing computer science meant lots of homework and graduating a few semesters late. Plus, I was noticing the rise in free, online computer science education (Udacity, Coursera, edX), which would make it possible to learn computer science — without the other degree requirements — later in life.
Why Leave Early?
I had two main reasons to get out early. The primary motivation was financial. I didn’t want to be in debt when I graduated. This is the same reason I turned down going to New York University. Even with a $30,000/year. scholarship, NYU was too expensive for me. I settled for state school and moved a mere 7 miles away to an apartment near the University of Texas at Austin. It’s relatively cheap, even though living costs are high downtown near the university.
The secondary motivation, which I sometimes rank higher than the financial reason, is that I have an absolutely fatal case of wanderlust. I went to Europe earlier this summer for 5 weeks, financed entirely by doing websites for friends & family, and it was a cheap tease of what I want from the world. There is so much to see and learn in the world, what am I doing spending all my time in a classroom, in the same city I grew up in? I’ve been here nearly 20 years. If I don’t get out soon, I’ll be trapped.
I decided it would be a mission. I would get out in two years. There was no one stopping me. I had carefully gone over all the degree requirements and knew it was possible. It would mean working a little harder, but I’ve managed to make it through one year pretty relaxed. I’m measurably less stressed out than most of my friends (except the one who dresses like the Dude, he has me beat). I spend very little time outside of class doing homework, and the majority of the work I do have to do is fairly enjoyable. I am happier than I have ever been before and everything is so simple.
Who is this website for?
I’m writing this for everyone who believes that schooling does not necessarily equal education. Universities are not the most efficient educators. Students are taking longer than ever to graduate — about half graduate after six years, let alone four — and this leads to more debt, less time, and a predetermined life plan that leaves little wiggle room. This is the opposite of what I want. I want:
- to be location-independent, so I can work from anywhere and travel the world
- to be done with time-sucking institutions so I can really start my life
And these desires led me to decide on a 2-year mission and write some articles about it. It’s not terribly difficult to graduate in 2 years if you play your cards right. You’ll have more than enough time to hang out with friends; you’ll have more time to hang out than your friends do. I will make recommendations, but there’s always another way to do it. My main goal here is motivating and helping students set on not spending too much time in college.
This blog is for students (and parents) similarly-minded. It’s not going to be easy to apply the rules and methods I write about here, but they make life so much easier once they’re in place. It takes a change of mindset to look at your life like I look at mine — I know this because I remember the day my mind changed. Ultimately, this blog is about getting more from college in less time so you can move on. Four, or six, years is a loooong time to do anything. I can’t be complacent for so long, I get a bit restless. I wouldn’t last in college if it took me any longer than two years. I would take a gap year or twenty and maybe come back later.
Even if you are getting a degree in engineering or architecture or another degree that you can’t reasonably finish in 2 years, hopefully I’ll still be able to help you shave a bit of time off and make the most of your time at university.
What about that “college experience?”
It’s a myth. I know people in college who have lives far from what most would consider the stereotypical “college experience.” And I have plenty of friends not attending college right now, having the time of their lives. If you want a “college experience”, go to a city with a university — I recommend Austin (hit me up!), Boston, New York, Chicago, or San Francisco — and just hang out. All the “college experience” stuff happens outside of class anyway.
Why even go to college?
Yes, that was my first question. I have considered dropping out before, and think about it at least every two weeks. As long as you can prove your skills, you can get a job. I have skills as a programmer and have been offered several jobs without a college degree. I can always go abroad and teach English in Indonesia. A Bachelor’s degree is irrelevant, isn’t it?
Well, it depends on what you want to do. We’ll get into those details later on down the road, but suffice it to say that college is probably still a good idea. It’s fun, easy, and you’ll probably meet some amazing people. If you can afford it, I recommend going to school. A Bachelor’s degree is a great fallback — you can get a job more easily, you can move abroad more easily — and you might have some opportunities would never otherwise would have had.
Plus, if you can do it in two years, why not?