Steve Jobs was one of the great innovators of our time, yet he never finished college. For Jobs, dropping out taught him more than staying in school ever could. For some people, that’s just the way it goes. As he told Stanford students in a 2005 commencement speech,
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Students thinking of taking Jobs’ advice should think hard. For Jobs, dropping out wasn’t an excuse to spend more quality time with his TV; it was an option that freed him up to focus with even more intensity on getting an education. It’s why I decided not to go to grad school: not to read and study fewer important books, but to read more of them and read them harder.I am 100 percent against dropping out, in the sense of leaving formal education to take up a full time career as a couch potato. I favor dropping in: dropping in on the most exciting and dynamic learning experiences you can find, whether those are in or out of formal school programs.In school or out, young people should live and learn with intensity, making the most of these wonderful years when your curiosity is hot and your time is your own. And if you are lucky, you will find that your youthful passion for learning translates, as it did for Steve Jobs and as it does for many others, into a lifelong love affair with work and with knowledge that endlessly intrigues and delights you even as it allows you to contribute your bit to make this a better world.