This reminds me of two quotes:
- “Fail faster.”
- "If you're going to make a mistake, make it LOUD so we can hear it and correct it."
I don't live in the bay area, but next visit I'll make sure to put this on my schedule.
2 pieces of feedback:
"See more about me here." doesn't do you justice. I didn't even notice it, but I found your website from your hn profile. Once I visited your site, you went from "mildly interesting" to "must meet". Is there some way to make the link to your site more prominent, perhaps with a mini-graphic of your front page a little higher up.
I know this may sound controversial, but "Here's my offer: I buy you a coffee..." and "Free" actually turn me off a little. I've heard this so many times now, I'm practically immune to it. You obviously have much to offer without buying coffee. Anyone should be happy to spend time with you without that. You may actually want to reconsider that offer to stand out from the crowd of posers (who you are obviously not a part of) and allow yourself to stand on your own merits. Don't sell yourself short. You clearly don't need to pay to meet interesting people in the bay area. Something to think about.
Best wishes on this and on your move, Miles. Looking forward to hearing great things about you and hopefully having coffee (dutch treat) soon someday.
Don't worry though, I got his blessing before making this site.
Especially since you got his blessing!!
- (I think!!) you didn't steal it! My gut says to me you were inspired or motivated or something else. But didn't stolen
- You said you got permission. To me, you don't steal & ask permission
- But the biggest one for me is that you downplay / sell yourself short! Its deprecating and doesn't serve you. In my experience in software, there are plenty of jealous / insecure / destructive people willing to put you down. Don't play into that game!
What you've done is very clever. The concept, + website + the TLD (*.coffee - didn't know that existed)
It's well done!
(I think we are agreeing!)
What should I have said / done?
But that would be appropriate! I'll try to make it happen.
It's a good idea!
1) You say things like "Here's my offer: I buy you a coffee" and "Tell me about your..." but then the form is all "I'm ________ and I'll meet you ______". Notice the change in who I and you refer to?
2) Adding to the confusing of #1, you have an email address placeholder that is not very obviously a placeholder. It is email@example.com but what if that is actually your gmail account. Perhaps using the classic firstname.lastname@example.org would make it a little more obvious that it is placeholder. It kind of looks like you have put your own email address since this I'm is you if they were all consistent in this section... but they aren't. This is a classic conundrum of web design. (ie, should a site use "your cart" or "my cart" in the nav?)
Having said that, I work in Berkeley and could probably meet up some day. I don't drink coffee though.
And I don't care about the downvote itself. There are plenty of cases where I know what I'm writing is going to be downvoted because that is what people do to other people with opposing opinions on certain topics. But I am baffled by them when I truly have absolutely no clue about why.
The simple fact is that their answers are more about their own confirmation bias than giving actionable advice.
While it's true that lots of successful people went to college, the simple fact that you taught yourself to code and you're hanging out on Hacker News puts you into a completely different category than 99.9% of people that don't go to college.
I've seen people talk here about ROI on degrees and "the path" and what makes a good student. I've seen far less about how people are highly unlikely to know what they should be doing with the rest of their lives right out of high school. That there's so much focus on 18 year olds paying crazy tuition to get a piece of paper that proves they attended some generic lectures on a generic subject is criminal.
Anyhow, I'm ranting. I'm projecting. I didn't go to college and I have been very successful. It's because I decided early on to feed my intellectual curiosity and give myself permission to fall in love with things that themselves lead to other things. It's way more important that you learn about music and travel and optimize for interesting than push your square peg through a round hole.
That's not to say that you won't ever go. But if you don't think this is the right time, then you are the best person to know that. Just don't be idle; try to imagine that your life will be a series of well executed five year plans.
Don't let yourself get burnt out along the way, it sucks.
What I recommend is that you join a startup and work there for about a year. Then get the hell out of California for a year; I recommend that you go work at a startup in Berlin or Amsterdam for a year. Get a global perspective.
Hacker News is an incredible resource, but it's also really full of people that buy into a California tech ideology that can be self-limiting. It's just one of many lenses through which you can see the world.
Good luck; I'm really excited for you. Just remember: no person has ever been on their deathbed and thought, "man... I wish I'd made fewer interesting decisions".
EDIT: whoa, take it easy, don't overload my VPS instance :-)
EDIT2: fine, I'll do my own Show HN here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8592812
I, too, look forward to meeting you! But that probably won't happen. Good luck with your experiment, though.
Also, a few things to remember: You're much more valuable than your first employers would have you believe. Don't let that go to your head. Do go to university. I know how eager you are, having been in that position myself, but it's a mistake to drop out of one of the most effective social networks ever devised by humankind. Go for the social experience and the social doors it opens. If you're still not convinced, take a hard look at the background of all of the YC partners and realize that all of them seem to have attended some good schools. While you can make it without university, and you can lead a happy life and do whatever you want and be in the upper 1% of quality of life across all of humanity without attending university, you only get one chance to choose not to follow "The Path," which is high school -> good university (undergrad) -> better university (graduate student) -> learn how to be around rich people and convince them of your way of thinking. Normal people who don't attend university simply don't get this opportunity. Specifically, the opportunity to test out what works and what doesn't, socially, with wealthy people. Why is this important? Well, if you want to do something big, and you don't have any money, wealthy people are by definition the only ones who can help you. Even at absurdly high salaries, it's very hard to save up money to do something that involves hiring other people. Possible, but difficult. So where do you turn? Investors, of course. Except, crap, they're wealthy, and you have no idea how to be around them as equals. But wait, you attended university, and so maybe they have some shared ground with you... Hm, nope, you didn't. Well, of course, your website demonstrates traction, and traction is what matters to an investor. But what else do investors care about? Your team. Where (or whether) you went to university says a lot about you, fortunately or unfortunately.
Really, there's no reason not to go. Make some reasonably intelligent decisions and you'll have a great time while getting the debt paid off in a reasonable timeframe.
But if you don't go, you may find you'll want to later but never really get the opportunity. Not in the way you once had. Once you depart from The Path, you'll have to beat your way back onto it, surmounting bills and work and all kinds of annoying stuff that people fresh out of highschool don't really have to worry about just yet.
Speaking of bills and debt: whatever you do, don't get into credit card debt. Don't get into credit card debt! I can't emphasize this enough. It's so tempting, but just don't.
Do use a credit card though. Just pay it off every month. Otherwise you may not be able to get services (internet, phone, whatever) at a new apartment, or buy a car. Had it happen to me once, and it sucks. No credit history = unknown risk = "I'm sorry but we will never do business with you."
Kind of an awkward place to end a ramble, but whatever. Maybe some of the ideas might be useful.
Maybe consider leveraging this particular experiment to help you attend one of the local top-tier universities as an undergrad. Ask people if they have any advice on this, and maybe you'll find someone who could help with the admissions process. Who you know matters more than what your highschool history was like, so maybe some strings could be pulled somewhere.
For me University was my biggest mistake ever and if I could turn the clock around, I would not go to university. It took my most energetic and creative years and put them into useless work. I spent 6 years in University because I started in a terrible one and had to leave and go to Canada to get better education and still I think the University that I went to was terrible and ended up eating all my money, energy and time for a completely useless degree that no one even cares about. My degree was in Software Engineering and I believe if it was something else, it would have been 10 times worse. Maybe I could have used University to build a great Network but due to my introvert nature, I don't think I have succeeded and besides the city where I was in had an ok network.
So all that to say that it depends in my opinion:
If you are an introvert and your goal is to be a doctor, a lawyer, a physicist or a researcher or anything similar then University is a great choice. If you are however an introvert and only care about making cool stuffs then be prepared that school will take most of your time and energy and put it into something that has no value or meaning.
If you are an extrovert and your goal is to be an entrepreneur then take a major that doesn’t require much work and spend your time building networks and making stuffs.
That’s the way I see it, I may be wrong but my personal life experience has led me to believe that.
I never would have written an OS kernel, I never would have built an ALU (and gained the deeper understanding of computer architecture as a result.) I never would have learned anything about AI.
Can I do those things, without going to school? Yes, absolutely. But I wouldn't have done it, and that's the point. Would I have met awesome mentors without university? Maybe, but maybe not. And the best part is I didn't even have to go out of my way to try and force it to happen. Going to university, it just happened because of who I am (a geek, smart, and a person who cares about good results.) It didn't matter that I was socially awkward, my work spoke for itself and others came to me.
Graduate work is something I never continued on to; once having my bachelor's, I went ahead and charged into Industry. And I'm totally, 100% OK with that choice.
So it makes me wonder - what were you doing for 8 years?
I'm a type of person that likes to get information and knowledge only when needed so it made absolutely no sense to learn stuffs and fill my head with knowledge without having a specific goal to reach. If my goal was to build an OS, then I would read about OS Kernels and start experimenting otherwise it's irrelevant to me.
For my personality, my goals in life and much more, school was a complete waste and a big regret. So suggesting it to someone else without knowing their goals or personality is dangerous because it could ruin them like it did to many.
I've spent the 2 years since graduation teaching myself whatever has caught my interest, and have learned way more applicable to the majority of entry-level/junior-level jobs than I ever did in school.
Did you go to a 'top-tier' school? If so, I'm sure your experience was much different, as the online classes I've taken provided by schools such as Stanford and UC Berkeley have been orders of magnitude better than the ones I took in school.
Plus, there were girls outside of the CS classes. That didn't hurt.
Sorry about that. It's hypocritical of me to implement a system like this instead of just showing my email address. I actually wrote a blog post about why you shouldn't do what I did with this website:
>I, too, look forward to meeting you! But that probably won't happen.
There's a good chance that would've been true had you not made this comment :)
I hope to meet everyone I receive an email from but to be honest I did not expect this to get so much attention. I am used to my projects getting very little to no visitors.
I started typing a long response to this explaining the circumstances around my decision but I've decided against it.
The bottom line is that I've made the decision to not go to university and I'm perfectly happy with that. Not being in college doesn't mean I can't still learn, it just means I have to teach myself, which is what I've always done and will continue to do. People may judge me based on my lack of college degree, I am at peace with that.
Surprisingly, my father is a professor and my mother is a university director, and yet they both support me in what I'm doing. My mother wrote about her feelings on the matter here if you're curious: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthoo...
Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts, I'd love to go over the details with you in person.
The day I turned 18, I signed a lease for an apartment and got a secured credit card, which I use exactly the same as I would a debit card. I still need to get a second credit card to help continue building my credit but I definitely got started as soon as I could.
My credit could be better, but there's not much more than waiting that I can do at this point. Please correct me if I'm wrong about this.
> Not being in college doesn't mean I can't still learn,
> it just means I have to teach myself, which is what
> I've always done and will continue to do. People may
> judge me based on my lack of college degree, I am at
> peace with that.
This particular issue is rampant with really smart kids because of the misconception that college is about learning as opposed to being about thinking. Your learning skills can be quite strong and completely subverted by a lack of thinking skills.
Anyway, it is not up to us to walk the path for you but you did post here so you get advice for free :-)
In practical terms, you will probably never hang out with these people after graduation. Most likely, they will be useless for your career (although you never can be sure - I co-founded my first startup with my floormate from sophomore year). But there's something that changes in your brain when you're forced to re-examine your most basic beliefs from the perspective of someone who doesn't share them, and it's a transferrable skill. You may very well decide that you were right the first time (my goals, strengths, and skills are not hugely different from what I believed in high school), but you see a whole new level of nuance that's missing when everyone around you self-selects into the same groups.
It's certainly possible to get this experience outside of college. But it's much, much harder, because you are looking for something outside of your own conscious awareness. I think one of PG's essays once said "Do whatever seems harder", which is pretty good advice. To that, I'd add "become the people you resent most" - not permanently, but long enough to understand their POV and empathize with them.
This ‘like-unlike-minded’ categorization seems dubious to me. It can be said as well that college throws together the like-minded (they all felt the need to go to college); and Hacker News throws together the unlike-minded (because vaguely IT-related interests is all we have in common).
> [College] throws you together with people that you would never hang out with by choice, and so forces you to broaden your perspective.
Plausible, though it remains your speculation (you went to college). I don’t see how college is radically different from working in various workplaces with respect to perspective-broadening.
> But there's something that changes in your brain when you're forced to re-examine your most basic beliefs from the perspective of someone who doesn't share them, and it's a transferrable skill.
Related: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2014/11/05/dont-surround-yourself-..., a great essay that expounds on this point.
Huh, my take on college is the exact opposite. Public secondary school is where you are together with people who you would never hang out with choice, but are thrown together by accident of birth location. College is where I finally got to live with fellow nerds, have late night bull sessions, join clubs that matched my interests, have crazy dining hall conversations, etc. It was great, I could finally be a normal, fun, social person without having to dumb myself down or hide my intellectual interests. The true value of college, is that you can find groups of similarly ambitious people, and you can feed off of each other and push each other further. Also, you can build lasting bonds that will be helpful over the course of your life.
"What is college for? To make friends."
"College is a way of opening you to see the world in more than black and white."
That's why college only worth when you make it with the right age. Otherwise you'll not have time to make any friends neither openness to change your mindset. College will be a waste of time and resources.
I would say also that college teaches you the why not the how.
As an example, you don't need 5 years to draw an house. Few weeks of learning will make you a CAD drafter. But you still need 5 years to explain why did you draw that particular house and be able of making rational choices and not just random ones.
When I did studies here in India, the internet penetration was close to 0. You could visit a library with books, practice paper, pen, and a water bottle and clock record 12 hours straight minus rest room breaks. You could break for tuition classes after wards. And then again work a few hours in the midnight.
This will prep you up for productive work later in life.
The competition is pretty fierce for getting through entrance examinations, and I would say working on hard math and physics problems helps develop your problem solving skills as much as programming does.
>>I've been to college. It absolutely and utterly pales in comparison to the knowledge base I'll never have time to consume for free on the internet.
This depends on how your spent your time in college.
The bigger problem is that not many people want to work through these kinds of courses. Universities motivate students through credentials, but open courseware is really just the people who love the education itself as opposed to the schooling and credentials.
I disagree with the last two statements, though:
> Universities motivate students through credentials, but open courseware is really just the people who love the education itself as opposed to the schooling and credentials.
Universities also try to motivate students by putting a lot of people who want to learn the same material together at the same time, and by coordinating the pace, readings, etc. It's easier to get motivated to study if all of your friends are studying, whether or not there's a grade involved. It's easier to learn something difficult if you can ask specific questions from other people learning the material (ie classmates) or if you can ask them from an expert (the professor and TAs, ideally).
I totally agree about the textbook part of the equation, too. While I love the automated graders for CS courses on Coursera, I think it's a major, major flaw to de-emphasize textbooks in favor of lectures. It's different for language courses of course, but I've never encountered an engineering course in which lectures were a good use of time compared to working through the book and going to office hours as needed.
I think it would be hard to find self-teachable software devs who are unsuccessful, degree or not.
A buddy of mine in Chicago who has been working on getting his degree for decades. It does seem more important there.
when you are solving a problem in a startup , you are thinking.. more than you do in a college.
The main thing you can't replace is everything else, like meeting really smart people that are working on things that are totally foreign to your day to day studies. Maybe you walk into a room at 11pm on a Tuesday because you hear someone listening to music you've never heard before. Or someone brings you to a reading of an author and the discussion makes you reevaluate beliefs you didn't even know you had. Maybe you take a class for a gen-ed that you just know will be terrible but the professor ends up being amazing and becomes a mentor to you. Or maybe you stay up for 24 hours straight with classmates studying for a final and somehow you all ace it even though you really thought solving problem 3 was going to kill you.
It seems like you know that network is important, otherwise you wouldn't be attempting this experiment, but there really is no replacement for spending four years forcing yourself to be exposed to tons of new ideas and people every day.
There's no other time in life you're allowed to do whatever you want surrounded by so many people in the same situation as you. Money can wait.
I can't speak to kids being on their phones all day, we only had flip phones when I was in school, but you can make personal choices to avoid those things. I personally made a choice to not live anywhere with a TV, for instance, but there sure were a lot of kids in certain circles wasting away in front them.
I'm going to go ahead and dispute that. You don't have to buy in to the rat race
The point is you're surrounded by other young people voraciously exploring themselves intellectually. It's just a different experience when you try to do college at 30.
Of course you could forge your own path, and I support that, but OP sounded like he was forgoing college in order to go to work to make money. His mother's article was about how he can just make money coding. If he had wrote that he was traveling for 6-12 months to research his first novel I'd have said fantastic, can't wait to read your notes.
> Sorry about that. It's hypocritical of me to implement a system like this instead of just showing my email address. I actually wrote a blog post about why you shouldn't do what I did with this website:
I disagree. On most computers that I have ever used, clicking an e-mail link will open a setup process for the default email client. Most users I have ever encountered do not know what to do with that prompt.
There's a lot of talk about "fixing" email, but I've yet to see anyone tackling this problem in a serious fashion. Since websites can't expect mailto: links working for their visitors, they have to put up forms.
But more to the point: I think it is quite obvious what is gonna happen when one submit the form on your website: The website owner gets informed about my email address and what time I'm interested in meeting.
Whether this information is conveyed by SMS, Whatsapp, e-mail, some internal e-ticketing system is completely irrelevant to the user.
PS: I don't know how miles.codes is supposed to look, but it looks horrible in Firefox on Ubuntu. Images are jiggling, text is unreadable, links are not clickable where you'd expect to be able to click.
But you are choosing to do what you are passionate about. So keep fighting!
I'm probably biased, being a college dropout myself, but the employers who weigh those credentials more highly than raw ability or skill set are probably not the ones you want to work for anyway. And let's be honest -- at least right now, it's a programmer's market. You could tie a sign around your neck that says, "I've been programming since I was four and am looking for a job," spend the day walking around San Francisco, and probably have a job offer by the end of the day.
It's probably also valuable to hear about college from a dropout's experience. I went for three years, and I hated every minute of it. Every. Single. Minute. I went to a highly respected/ranked private University, admittedly not something Ivy League, and while I definitely learned a lot and met some cool people, I speculate I would have learned more and faster had I jumped headfirst into startups during those years. I wouldn't have taken a Shakespeare class, but that's just one of the many trade-offs you have to make.
I was a couple semesters away from graduation, and was half pulled out by a startup taking off and half just couldn't handle it anymore. Half of college was excruciatingly slow and boring, and 1/4 was worthless. I don't say "worthless" in the, "When am I going to use this in my job/real life" sense, but in the "This is busywork and everyone in this room, including the Professor, knows it." The last 1/4 was solid. I won't pretend like college had nothing to offer - I just wonder how much I would have learned had I used 4/4 of my time effectively instead of 1/4.
TL;DR - do whatever you want to, and don't let the hivemind of HN convince you otherwise. But I didn't have to tell you that.
Now let's meet up and get coffee next time I'm in the Valley :)
If your long-term goals include (or will ever include) "Start my own company," the odds are overwhelmingly not in your favor. First, when you're in university, you have a unique opportunity to become known as the smartest person in the class, and thus build a ridiculously valuable network. But you could do that at work too, right? Well, not really. There are legal issues at play: it's not so easy to just pack up with a coworker and start your own company. California makes this easier, but it's still hairy. Whereas you almost never have to worry about that as a student. Plus, your student network will be gigantic in comparison to a network you can build from work alone.
Someday you'll be old, and without a degree you'll be doubly vulnerable to ageism. If you're not a manager by then, you may be out of a job. While it's nice to think you'd be retired by then, reality has a funny way of making that unlikely. In particular, if you meet someone and fall in love, your finances and other ambitions tend to become affected.
You may be interested that I once interviewed at Justin TV, which eventually transformed into Twitch and was recently sold for a lot of money. Maybe I would've had an equity stake, maybe not. I didn't make the cut. Official reason for passing on me? Kan met with me and said that his investors recommended they not hire anyone without a degree when they were in such early stages. Now, that could have just been a convenient social excuse; at the time I remember not really demonstrating enough value during the interview stage, otherwise I'm sure that wouldn't have stopped them. On the other hand, if I was a borderline "hire" with a degree, then maybe that would have been enough to push me into the zone of "Let's try this person out and see how he does," which would have let me demonstrate my abilities directly, rather than by solving interview puzzles like "how would you implement a way to evaluate 2 + 3 = 5?" (At the time, being self-taught, I wasn't very versed in lexers, parsers, etc, so I had to flub my way through that particular question.)
You can have a wonderful life without a degree, but the vast majority of startups are started by people who went through universities. You know how Sam Altman has given a series of wonderful lectures at Stanford? Pg has also written at length about universities and startups:
I've claimed that the recipe is a great university near a town smart people like. If you set up those conditions within the US, startups will form as inevitably as water droplets condense on a cold piece of metal.
I've been operating under the assumption that you moved out to SF to go live the startup dream. The fact is, that dream is much less likely when you haven't attended university. It's unlikely in terms of raw statistics (I'm personally aware of only a few people who have made a successful startup without having been through university, tptacek being one of the notable counterexamples) and in terms of your network. As a student, you're a potential founder. As an employee, usually you're going to remain an employee.
Isn't it interesting that Loopt was objectively not as big of a success as once was hoped, but Sam still succeeded brilliantly from it? I wonder if his network had anything to do with that, or the fact that he attended a top-tier university?
By the way, if you don't really care about starting a startup, please just disregard everything I've said, since your current path may in fact be optimal, as your parents noted. But if you're going the startup route... Well, "the rest of your life" is a long, long time, yet you only have a very narrow timeframe to reconsider. I hope I'm wrong, though!
One of the most important points that I don't think I stressed enough, which took me a long time to fully accept, is that university isn't really about learning. Not when it comes to software. Yes, your education will be well-rounded and you'll have a much deeper knowledge of architecture and theory and etc, but the primary value to you as a potential founder is the network and the social acceptance that comes from attending a top tier university. Prestige. It's lame to an extent, and maybe someday the world will be different, but that day likely won't be in the next decade, which is the timeframe you care about the most.
Also, consider this: All of the opportunities before you now will still be there, enhanced, after university. Ever play poker? It's probably best to follow the path of highest EV. There's almost no way that university is anything but the highest EV in this situation.
I wish you the best of luck. I apologize for coming across as negative.
My perspective is that as a student, I don't stand out. My grades/ECs/etc are not very exceptional.
However, as a "rogue" (for lack of a better term) developer, I do stand out. I started making websites in 4th grade, I've worked professionally as a developer since a year after I was legally able to have a job at all, I have an entrepreneurial spirit, I have a history of shipping software, etc. Read that in the least egotistical tone you can (if at all possible) please; I'm walking imposter syndrome in reality.
I'd really like to continue this conversation right now but I think it'll stretch out too long, can we pick back up at this point in person? I'll email you right after I post this.
>I apologize for coming across as negative
I also struggle with wording what I say to sound positive, but you have nothing to worry about, your tone has been very neutral.
EDIT: I sent an email to the address in your profile, if that's not your current email, please tell me so I can send it to the right one.
I was such a student in high school; ok grades, but nothing that would get me into Stanford (I applied; they rejected me). Then I went to college (at UCSD), and suddenly the entire world turned around. In high school, being good meant mostly skills that had nothing to do with subject matter. In college, being good meant being good at CS, which (hey!) I was actually good at. So almost overnight, I became one of the top students in my cohort, and one of the most well-known in my year in the department. I am now a Ph.D. student at Stanford (yes, the irony...).
Admittedly, I never followed the path from high school straight to working, so I wouldn't know if something similar is possible there, and maybe it is. But I wouldn't underestimate the social network effects that others have talked about here. Standing out in your major has substantially more impact in college than it does in high school.
> My perspective is that as a student, I don't stand out. My grades/ECs/etc are not very exceptional. However, as a "rogue" (for lack of a better term) developer, I do stand out.
It is easy to stand out as a student: attend lecture every day, show up early and sit in the front row, prepare for the lectures by reading the assigned and optional readings in advance, ask questions that help you deepen your understanding of the material (not questions that are designed to "show off," if your understanding of the material is much deeper than what the class covers, don't be an asshole, but do ask questions before and after lecture), and use the resources the class has made available to you to understand the subject as well as you can.
I've had students "stand out" despite getting Cs on all the tests, because they've clearly busted their ass to get a C and had a good attitude about it. I've also had completely anonymous students get As.
If you work hard at the class and are also any good at the subject, you'll stand out even more. And, just in case you need this advice later (this is actually for you, Miles), you can actually pull this off without being enrolled at the university and can probably hustle/charm your way into enrollment at Berkeley if you ever decide you need it. The same thing applies: take classes you're interested in (through UC's extension education program), show up, work hard, and engage with the Prof. Undergrad enrollment numbers can make that tricky, but that's literally how I got into grad school. (UC extension program and all...)
But Berkeley's great. Have fun!
In the meantime, there's no need to not follow along, and there's no need for enrollment through extension (and with no added work for the teaching staff).
the intro websites archives are at:
the current semester is at http://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs61a/ and so on.
If you click through you should notice that all the readings and lecture notes and assignments are totally publicly viewable. the only thing standing between you and doing that whole class on your own (minus, the final) is your will power. At least one semester of the courses are at webcast.berkeley.edu or on youtube. Again, totally public.
If you really want to, you can even attend lecture since berkeley is an open campus and no one will check to see what you're doing there. Be warned, though, the classes are really impacted right now, so you might not even get a seat.
The only downside to doing it this way is that you don't get official credit. If you really want that, you could take it via extension, but I highly doubt they'll let you in since even declared majors are having all sorts of trouble signing up for classes (the intro series went from like 300 students to >1200 per semester in like 2 years, so they are having some growth issues :).
Actually, it's not, it does bring up salary as one point but that's hardly the gist. Some quotes:
> Is the push for everyone to earn a bachelor’s degree so ubiquitous, that we’ve completely lost sight of the outcome of earning the degree?
> "What if what’s really at stake is not choosing which college, but declaring self-sufficiency? What if, instead of teaching young children that if they study hard they’ll have a chance to go the college of their dreams, we taught them that starting today, you will be responsible for your future?"
I thought it was quite a good post. To possible readers, don't avoid clicking based on this dismissive comment.
College has the best odds of increasing the odds on having a rich life (not only money-wise). That makes it the rational choice. Anyway we live in freedom so everybody has the right of making the irrational choice and own it. Odds are just odds, not results, you can also win with a lower odd (just look around, the world is full of exceptions. The best exception I remember is Tadao Ando ; He didn't go to college and got a Prizker prize for Architecture).
Don't mistake dropping-out college for skipping college. Zuckerberg or Gates didn't skip college they drop-out when they hit (and recognized) a huge sweet-spot/opportunity. Staying in college would just decrease their odds. They also made the rational choice. You (probably) are not doing it.
I didn't take the actions necessary to be able to attend an ivy league school and drop out of it.
>They also made the rational choice. You (probably) are not doing it.
I don't feel like spending the time it would take to explain why my choice was rational. The gist is that a lot of consideration was put into making that decision and I'm confident I made the right one.
Yeah, that advice applies in this day and age. In 40 years a degree will be entirely irrelevant.
The college route works for many, but I feel like I get along with people better that decide they're more fit to rough it and teach themselves.
You know what's better at making you a social network of industry peers than college? The actual industry.
Get an entry level position and work your way up, while spending your free time to develop your skills.
I'm in WA right now but I'm taking a road trip while working remote this winter. I'll be in the Bay Area for a short period in January and will send you an email for the coffee request if you're not inundated with acquaintances by that time haha.
The long-term impact of not having a degree, by and large, doesn't appear to really show up until your 30's or 40's. It makes continuing in a technical role progressively harder (because it's one area where you negatively stand out to the rest of the candidates passing by) and makes moving into management much harder because, like it or not, things like MBAs are still effective signaling tools for moving into management (and also teach you a lot, but on HN the idea of an MBA having useful lessons to teach is considered madness, so disregard that as you will). Getting there is much, much harder without a degree, and going back for that first degree is by all accounts really hard when you're already in the real world.
> You know what's better at making you a social network of industry peers than college? The actual industry.
The point isn't to have a social network of industry peers. It's to have a social network of people who are not industry peers. I like many people I know in the industry--but I don't go to them when I need to know about law or business or deep-magic political science (it has come up more than you think).
Have a friend in his 40s having to plough through a degree (while holding down a full time job, and family duties) for just this reason.
A degree is nice to have, but for the price plus opportunity cost (perhaps $200K for the OP) it may be a net negative.
I too have a 40-something friend finishing his degree. He does feel it would have helped his career.
Yes, you're happy with it, now. People are always happier and more apt to do something that has immediate gains than something that is far off in the future.
> Not being in college doesn't mean I can't still learn, it just means I have to teach myself,
You realize the purpose of teachers is to inform you of things so you don't have to figure them out yourself, right? It takes a lot longer to accumulate the knowledge by yourself. People have already figured complicated things out, and they can tell you in a minute, versus you spending hours/days/weeks trying to come to the same conclusion.
> which is what I've always done and will continue to do. People may judge me based on my lack of college degree, I am at peace with that.
Nobody will judge you on a lack of a college degree. If anything, people will think you are more amazing for never going to college, but that's beside the point. A degree has nothing to do with going to college. Forget the degree. Actually, go to college and then drop out. Yes, i'm actually telling you not to get a degree, but still to go to college.
> Surprisingly, my father is a professor and my mother is a university director, and yet they both support me in what I'm doing. My mother wrote about her feelings on the matter here if you're curious:
My parents also supported me, but probably because they thought they had no way to force me to go. Honestly, this was a big mistake on their part.
I never went to college, and started working for myself about the same age as you. I've since hit a wall several times in terms of professional advancement because I never got a CS degree. But it's not the degree that held me back, it's the lack of academic knowledge about computer science, security/crypto and other topics. How was I supposed to know I needed to explain in a job interview the big-O notation advantages of one algorithm over another? How was I supposed to know I needed to know how to draw a flow chart of the architecture of a network application?
Could I have been studying CS every week of my life throughout my career to eventually build up the knowledge equivalent of a degree? Sure. But who the fuck wants to study every week of their life? That's why college is only (about) four years: you burn up that studying time all at once so you don't have to stretch it out for the rest of your life.
Then there's the personal/social aspect, where my personal growth was stunted for many years from not having a group of my peers to interact with on a daily basis. I also lacked perspective from not learning multiple subjects such as art, history, foreign language, economics, philosophy, psychology, etc. I've accumulated a lot of knowledge over the last 10 years, but still lack so much because I never went to college.
What nobody told me when I was younger was that your youth is the best time for you to 'waste' your time with school, with travel, with learning inane skills/trades, with romance, whatever. You should waste your youth as much as you can on doing the things that will be rewarding later on. I can sum up the reason you should go to college in one word: exposure. Nowhere in your life will you ever find a place where is it easier to be exposed to the variety of knowledge and culture and people than in college.
Don't work. Do anything you can to avoid work. You'll be working for the rest of your life.
Some more reflections:
I have a couple of good friends, and some of them have many friends. I ask them, where did you make these friends? "In college, of course." I have friends who are married. Where did they meet their wife? "In college, of course." I have friends who play music, or used to be in bands. Where did they learn to play? [..] I know people who draw amazing portraits when they're bored. Where did they learn to draw? [..] I know people who have done every drug under the sun, and have a wider view of cognition, of reality, of authority. Where did they get the drugs, and who did they have fun doing them with? [..]
Steve Jobs dropped out of college after six months, but kept auditing creative classes. At a commencement address he gave at Stanford, he said: "If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts."
I'm planning to waste my late 30s having fun with my wife and child. I program and learn when I can!
I honestly believe that straying from The Path, as you put it, is why I'm in a good position now. It's been challenging at times, but it ensured that I didn't just settle for whatever inertia threw my way. If I didn't make something of myself, no one was going to give me a free pass based on the prestige of my degree, so it forced me to make something of myself, and instead of ending up with some safe and boring post along The Path, I've learned skills that allow me to make my own Path and walk it on my own terms. I think I'm a better person for it.
My goal is to get into freelancing/consulting the way patio11 describes it: make thing-X which will make/safe client-Y Z-amount-of-money. The challenge for me is:
- how to get experience in making thing-X without having the connections to get client-Y
- how to get client-Y without having the experience in making thing-X
May I ask how did you get into the position you are in today? How much time did you spend programming a day? What was you approach (work through a book, or pick a project and execute in language x)? Did you have a side job while you were teach yourself programming?
Your response will be much appreciated.
Most people who espouse the necessity of a degree completely neglect the opportunity cost of obtaining one. Even if you pick one of the more practical majors (eg. computer science), you're spending 4 years and paying anywhere from $30-200k to learn information, much of it outdated and useless to employers/you, that you could learn for free online or at a job.
Of course if you're going to dick around and do nothing for 4 years, it's probably better to go to school. But it's very well possible that the 4 years of experience you get will put you in a much better position than a useless liberal arts grad with a fancy piece of paper and $50k in debt. It'll certainly force you to be more self-starting and entrepreneurial.
There will always be hiring managers who automatically filter you out because you don't have a degree. That just means you need to (1) develop an impressive portfolio/resume (2) create a strong network (3) be entrepreneurial. None of these require a degree.
Good luck. If I were in the Bay Area, I might take you up on that offer.
There are all sorts of ways you can improve your odds apart from going to school. There are a lot of things that you can read that will point you in the right direction. There are a lot of interesting things that you can work on.
I never went to University or College or whatever you want to call it, and I've had to turn down multiple good job offers to stick with the great one. I'm halfway around the world from SF, but I would be very happy to chat with you, Miles. Hit me up.
College education/Degree are a universal filter criteria, trying to prove the whole world wrong isn't going to work, unless you are Einstein. Plus if you are not a US citizen and wish to relocate to US, getting a degree has other added advantages for visa related purposes.
And guess what. The very start ups of today won't be hiring your no-degree, whole night awake dorm room hackers. They will be explicitly looking out for some one with a degree. Heck you would be yourself doing that once your very own start up grows to some size.
Going by the age related discrimination, and how much lottery factor exists in the start up industry.
Getting a degree might be a very good idea.
I'm not saying that skipping college is a smarter choice (for most people it's not), just that it depends on your situation.
The pragmatic answer is the engineers could do the math to analyze the design, the techs could not. I've never seen anyone learn math on the job. They'll learn everything else but the math.
A huge part of an engineering curriculum is math and how to apply it to solve problems. Every engineering exam I had, no matter what the course was ostensibly about, was math.
Similarly the time I spent learning formal logical systems, differential geometry, category theory, abstract algebra, etc. might not be directly applicable but the thought patterns and problem solving techniques I developed studying those subjects are invaluable in pretty much all my day to day activities as a programmer. Being able to think on a slightly higher plane of abstraction and then lowering a solution on the higher plane to something more concrete is an extremely valuable skill that I don't know how you can learn and develop any other way.
Not knowing math can shut you out from many forms of programming such as (as you suggested) graphics programming.
> there's nothing you learn in school that you can't learn online
That's pedantically correct, and I'm sure such people do exist, but I've simply never encountered one in 35 years of working in the industry.
Possible or not, I still don't know anyone who learned math outside of college.
Nobody learns math outside of college because nobody needs to (of course there are exceptions).
On the other hand, it is precisely that sort of horrible obstacle that will harden your "student resolve" into star-fusion-iron.
Maybe, but probably not. More often I see people like this ending up bitter and resentful, sometimes so much so that they're painfully difficult to work with. It's actually pretty sad - a lot of these people are genuinely intelligent, but feeling like you've been wronged can be a powerful force.
There are actually some (well camouflaged) text inputs above the button where you're supposed to enter your email address and rendezvous preferences.
I've been using the web since its inception, and I had no idea that email@example.com was a placeholder in a text input box. Furthermore, I had assumed that the "Wednesday.." placeholder on the 2nd input field was in fact some sort of auto-generated next free opening. Only now after reading your note about camouflage did I go back to the page and realize what he was trying to do. Sigh.
I've been having some serious difficulty with this lately. It seems in the last few months many sites i use have gotten redesigns that make them less functional and more "cute" (i guess)
Discover Card just redesigned their site to put their offers you can save on your card in GIANT boxes that you have to, get this, scroll horizontally. So rather than quickly parsing a list to see which offers i want, i have to scroll horizontally (can't use a scroll wheel), see about 5 offers, then click "view more," see 5 more, "view more..." Repeat. Takes 5x as long to go through! I... am probably just getting old but... i don't get it... why make a site so much less functional?
Myself, I haven't been using the web since inception... only for 18 years.
Interesting. Maybe that's your problem? I haven't been using the internet since it's inception, and I had no problem understanding what the text boxes where. Yes, I thought the time field was going to be a dropdown, but I quickly adapted when I realised it's a free text input
What if he can't afford it?
And who knows, maybe you'll make good money for four or five years as a developer, and then decide that you'd rather be an accountant, or lawyer, or do something else professionally - and go to school for that thing. And if you do, you'll be the prime candidate wherever you go - because when you combine the developer skill set with another industry skill set, it is like having cheat-mode enabled.
Which dev will be more experienced: 4 years of full time dev work or fresh out of college?
Who will be more financially stable?
Who will have a larger network in the valley?
Who will be more employable?
Who will be earning more exactly four years from now?
Which one will have less debt?
Which one would perhaps even have savings?
4 years of full time dev work is far more valuable career wise than the average 4 years of college.
Also, you say don't get a credit card, but then talk about grad school. I'd rather ring up $5000 of debt traveling than $200000 getting through head school.
It looks like he knows exactly what he's doing and is very passionate about creating things. I got the impression he is looking to branch out and create value, have a good time with other people. If I was in S.F. Bay, I'd meet up and see what he has to say.
Good luck to you and if you're ever looking to have coffee with someone in the industry in southern Ontario near Toronto (Hamilton to be precise) feel free to drop me a line.
IF you want to be a doctor/lawyer/etc where a degree is required, then by all means you must go to school.
For anything where only results matter (for example, the open source software world) no one will care one way or the other what you do.
A lot of things will fall in between. Some doors will open, some will close. It's impossible for anyone to say which is a better choice.
Certainly, no matter what, there is no pressing need to go to school NOW. School will still be there in a year. Or two. Or even 20 if you find a reason to go later in your life.
The only thing you should avoid at all costs is wasting time. If you're skipping school to get high and play video games (doesn't sound like you!) then you are going to pay a heavy price as the years slip by. Be sure to make use of the time you "save"!
I won't dismiss whatever risks he took to get to where he is. That said, I am guessing he can still get that free education through his parents employment if he ever needed to and it must make things a lot less stressful knowing that the risk is not quite so great.
I always reflect back on my interviews. Whenever I went for an interview, but had a decent job that I could stay at, I KILLED. Then, those few times when I was dying to get out of my situation, I lost some of my confidence and charm and bravado and those were the times I didn't get the job. It honestly helps (me) to take risks when there is a cushy landing if you fail.
Do you know www.startuptravels.com? There's approximately 42 entrepreneurs at the moment of writing in the bay area who'd like to meet other entrepreneurs for a coffee and a chat.
Direct link to the SF search: http://www.startuptravels.com/search?location=San%20Francisc...
Edit: If anyone wants to show a little support. Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8592850
I've also signed up for startuptravels as it looks to be a great way to create conversations.
I left high-school and jump straight into a front-end dev role at a branding agency.
Two years on I'm not building a creative agency, hireable anywhere and I have a business network that most people would kill for.
I think that what you're doing is great but you'll do better by getting some business cards made, going to events and networking with every single person you can. That relaxed environment usually yields for more exciting and organic business relationships. Simultaneously, work hard in places that are versatile in their offering. You'll get broader and ultimately more valuable experience rather than taking a higher paying job somewhere where you're not growing properly.
Also I recommend you jump into some fast-paced, crazy work at an agency before you move into a product focused team.
I was going for the "narrative" style design for this, I intentionally didn't put all the information "above the fold" like the original site did:
UX people should step in to correct me if needed: to me it feels that a human face trumps about everything else on a webpage; the attention shoots to it and our sensibilities adjust to the lighting on the face. That leaves me sitting in a small dark box looking out of a round hole, and the lighting/contrast information from the coffee video gets rejected as incoherent.
It was actually quite interesting to have the two of them to compare.
I hope you have taken him up on his offer of coffee! It would be the gentlemanly thing to do.
It helped build her network, find a new job, and meet people doing cool things.
I've seen your projects and they speak for your passion. I think it's amazing that you are doing what you are doing. I'm not going to lecture you about whether to go to college or not. College has its merits and demerits. All I can say is keep up the good work!
Side note, I'd be happy to chat over coffee and discuss the valley, opportunities, and how to not get screwed over, regardless of your interest in Hired.
I really wish we had half the community community you guys have, here in Aberdeen, Scotland. You could throw a rock and hit a tech guy in SF. Here, the only groups of any prominence are MS .Net groups.
I've been struggling to find or build such a network here. I'm an open source, Linux, Python type of guy and feel I don't fit in the myopic tech culture here. I'd emigrate to SF in a heartbeat.
Good luck networking, I reckon you'll do alright. If you ever visit Scotland, hit me up!
(not having a go, I have the same problem (sometimes) in Australia)
I'd recommend also giving http://www.startuptravels.com/ a go, we're not a huge crowd yet, but we've got a few entrepreneurs in Australia, and the responsiveness and willingness to meet new people amongst our users has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
Edit: Ah, I don't use LinkedIn.
Edit: Ah, bummer. I believe that's a +1 for native signup! :) Also, which city are you living in?
I'm in Canberra.
In retrospect, I should have placed the inputs in an actual <form> element so that Chrome's email validation would take effect.
Although in this case, not validating the emails client-side just means I have to validate emails after I receive them. Which is actually good in a way, I like seeing when people send stuff like "DROPTABLEuser" or "'SHOWPROCESSLIST'1=1", it's kind of a fun curiosity I suppose.
Everyone else is welcome too! We are a group of hackers and entrepreneurs who get together in Mission District, work on our own projects and have fun.
I found a lot of people just wanted a free burrito. Not a problem, but not the community I hoped to build out of the experiment.
Needless to say I had put on about 20lbs in burritos.
 sent you an email! :)
We're all in roughly the same spots not far from some imaginary standard deviation.
Best of luck with this interesting idea. How do you vet the people you intend to meet? Do you get any spam or trolls?
It was fun being able to register a domain and have the site for it done before the DNS finished propagating. Plus the whole site, favicon and all, is just one file which is 3kb unzipped:
I would like to have coffee with interesting people from time to time.
I'm not in SF, but if you're ever in the UK (London/Cambridge) feel free to look me up.
- this is not a particularly good design. Project descriptions are hardly readable and it looks plain ugly, to be frank
You should speak to Sahil
Wish you all the very best !
Sorry I had to.
Nice Rick and Morty site on your portfolio!
I take chrome for granted and know that that's a very bad thing (re: the IE6 era v2.0).
Pretty impressed you make an account just for this.
I also have this site linked to on my personal site, http://miles.codes. But my personal site doesn't get much traffic so I don't think that had any effect.
I've really done no marketing besides posting here and on Twitter. It's just luck and how you phrase the title I think. For example, I posted this link for the first time a few days ago with the the title "I'll buy you coffee" and it only got 2 upvotes.