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College? A Geek’s Alternate Path

College tuition is more than through the roof. It’s through the penthouse, through the ozone. It’s becoming more difficult to afford to explore the boozy, intellectual jungle that is a college campus. What is more, it’s a badly hoarded secret that the skills imparted to only usually sober students in the realms of higher education can be learned elsewhere. For free. On your own.


Acquiring a Skill Set

Far more essential than college is the acquisition of a skillset. The ability to write does not come from memorizing a list of skills and techniques that only an institution holds—it comes from extensive writing and revision. Information on how to learn graphic design can be found easily online—but it is useless information if it is not applied again and again. Talent comes from practice, not instruction.

Find instructional Youtube videos. Google. If you can figure out how to pirate music you can figure out how to learn as much as a Bachelor’s student or more. Going to college gives employers some basis on which to believe you’re smart and will listen to authority figures. So that’s a plus. But is it a plus that’s worth a $40,000 loan and four or more years of blood, tears and sleep deprivation?


The Importance of a Portfolio

Both the lives of geeks and their portfolios would improve if they spent more time pounding out their own ideas and less time drooling in class. If you don’t have the money to go to school, don’t let that stop you. Save up for the equipment you need and follow your passion. When applying for internships or jobs that require degrees or experience, tell them in your cover letter than you’re confident in your ability to function on the same level as (or better than) the people who spent years in school. Then, follow up your confidence by whipping out your portfolio to prove it.


The Power of Self-Discovery

Another valuable experience that college can offer is self-discovery. Attending university, studying liberal arts, and interacting with new and different people can help to expand a worldview more than minimum wage jobs or binge watching anime. But finding out who you are and what you want doesn’t have to be purchased through the admissions office. Find ways to step outside your comfort zone. Get off tumblr and get to know your people and your options better. Talk to your friends about yourself. Talk to strangers about yourself. Travel on a tiny budget. Look into new skills. Get in touch with your idols. Ask them how they did it. Do something that makes you start thinking in different ways.

Geeks and nerds are the smartest people in the world, and if that genius were to be matched with a proactive mindset, they could be the most successful. But success will not be given to you. Don’t beg companies or colleges to let you in. Hone your skills and focus on being the kind of person they want, and they’ll come begging to you.