I was just part of a mass email from my buddy Tom, who is an awesome guy and also has an unreal golf swing. Here’s the first paragraph:
An unholy event has occured about which some of you have already heard rumors. I wanted to clear things up right away before anything gets out of hand: the rumors are true, an accredited university has actually issued me a degree. Let it be known that after 4 suffering years of purgatory in bumble**** kalamazoo michigan, and a scant 9 years after graduating high school, I have weasled my way to a B.A. Check your betting slips folks, I know there was a pool out there somewhere: you all owe the person with June 11th, 2005 a little bit of money.
Tom’s self-deprecation belies his exceptional intelligence, but for me, there’s some truth in his description of college as suffering. I mean, the parties are great if you can find the sixer of good beer stashed behind all the Natty light in the fridge. I also love to learn, anything and everything. But classrooms and exams aren’t so much my thing. Now, there is good chance that I will be sending out a similar email next January. Getting through the coming fall semester is going to be no small chore, though. My current company is requiring more and more of my time, and I have this new idea… oh, WHAT an idea.
Tom’s email led me to think about my first two companies and the events that caused me to drop out of college twice. At Digital-3 (the portable MP3 player company back in ’99), it was a call from a large company who wanted to license our as-yet-unbuilt product. At Indigo Security (my most recent company) it was when we had firm commitments of about $750,000 in first round financing. Although, with all the flying around we did to get that cash, I was going to fail intermediate microeconomics anyways 😉
There were a few other factors that helped. My family was exceptionally supportive of my decision to pursue these companies. My business partner was a great friend who was going to be making the same leap with me. Finally, there was some security in the startup world, with venture capitalists providing lots of follow-on funding to their investments. Of course, in a strong wind, even turkeys look like they’re flying, but I digress…
I’m still unclear how many college students read this blog, but for any readers, here’s my question: have you ever considered taking the leap yourself? What held you back or pushed you forward? Is dropping out of college different than dropping out of the "real world"? Why?