Steven Corona wrote an article that details his path from failing out of college, through negotiating his first job, to ultimately becoming the successful CTO at Twitpic. It’s an inspiring article, but I think its title is unfortunate and sends the wrong message.
Rather than, “College was my biggest mistake”, the article should probably have been titled, “Believing that failing out of college would limit my success was my biggest mistake”—because the point is that graduating from college isn’t a prerequisite to success, and that you shouldn’t develop a self-limiting mindset if you didn’t go, or couldn’t finish.
Even though my own line of work ultimately differed from what I studied, my five years at college provided benefits that have proven of tremendous value in my life:
It showed me that I’m far more capable than I would have previously imagined.
It taught me the long-term benefits of consistent, day-to-day self-discipline.
It taught me the importance of doing the problems. There were countless times that I left lectures or finished reading a chapter in a textbook with the feeling that I understood the topic. Only later, when I actually tried to do the problems, did I begin to understand the difference between being taught, and true learning. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of this lesson.
These are things that, I suspect, are easier to learn in the externally-imposed, constrained environments created by colleges and universities.