Why I Dropped Out of College

Date:

In every job interview I’ve ever been in, this question has always been asked. In the beginning of my career, I tiptoed around it, trying to justify my decision with anything that would change the subject. Hiring professionals aren’t typically super excited you bowed out of any challenge, much less a prerequisite on their job description.

However, it was right for me, and I stand by it firmly.

I started my Computer Science degree eager to solve the worlds problems, soaking up as many algorithms and data structures as I could. Any programming assignment had my full attention, and anything else fell to the wayside.

Three years in, and I had completed the majority of the programming classes; and I was stuck. Stuck in networking. Stuck in Artificial Intelligence and Linear Algebra. I just wanted to program. I wanted to solve real world problems, not how to convert machine code.

So I built my personal website. Java didn’t have an entry level to build a personal website.

And then I found PHP.

I’m thankful every day - most days at least - I opened those PHP tutorials on YouTube. I was building websites the same day I started. Same concepts, but things just “worked”.

Every day after that led to another tutorial, another concept I was eager to learn. And every day of college was another slog through concepts I didn’t care about. But at night, I was creating terrible websites that I could share with the world.

And then I got incredibly lucky. I fell into a job listing looking for a PHP Developer. I studied for nights, and even minutes before the interview. Prime Incorporated took a chance on me and I’ll always be eternally grateful because it made me realize exactly what I wanted to be.

For another year I straddled school and a part time job developing websites. It became more clear every day that it was what I wanted to pursue.

So I took the leap, and I didn’t enroll for the next semester. Full time web developer, scared shitless I made the wrong decision.

I learned more that first year about web development than I ever could have from college. I made mistakes, I built incredible things. I’m still proud of the work I delivered those early years, if you don’t look too closely at the source code. I was solving problems, learning as I went.

What a magical world 2010 was:

HTML5
CodeIgniter
ExpressionEngine
JQuery
Twitter Bootstrap

I mean, MySpace still existed, the standards weren’t incredibly high.

When people ask me why I stopped going to school, I now answer their question without hesitation. It was right for me, and I’ve never looked back.

Brandon O'Hara

Brandon O'Hara

Montana based web developer specializing in creating web applications in Laravel, VueJS and Angular. Currently overseeing engineering at Trak Software as Chief Technology Officer, building a web application to simplify and streamline communication in sponsorship activation and management.

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