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College and the consequences of our actions

So.. College. Probably the best and worst thing of your life at the same time. The place where you go and “learn” absolutely nothing and graduate with a fancy piece of paper with your name written on it in cursive. But for people who don’t really socialise nor like socialising it can be a pretty good thing. As the case for me.

I’ve always had a knack for computers ever since I handled my first one at 3 yrs old. I vividly remember typing my name on Microsoft Office and the excitement that came along with it. I know, you probably find that stupidly boring. But for 3 yr old me, it was incredibly fun. Felt like a god just turning the computer on, opening Word and typing my name everyday. So anyways, after a few weeks that got boring and I started getting into gaming instead. Beach Head.. anyone remembers that? What about Battlefield 1942? Serious Sam? Command & Conquer? They were my childhood. Fast forward 2 decades letter and so far I’ve managed to become a:

  • Software Developer with fluency in Python, Javascript and C while dabbling with a few others

  • Security Researcher with 7 vulnerabilities disclosed with Ubiquiti, Valve and EarthLink Iraq respectively

  • “ISP” with my own AS Number and IP space. Now I put it in quotation marks because while I can technically call myself an ISP. I don’t consider myself one.

No, what was mentioned earlier wasn’t talent. I wasn’t born with it. What drove me to this position is curiosity and the willingness to learn. Sure, starting young helped a lot but what truly helped was that I actually liked it. Having curiosity is an insanely underestimated trait. The eagerness to know what makes something tick, how it works, why is it like that.. It’ll push you to such extreme depths. Yes, it takes time and effort & a working brain to get in a field and actually produce something useful. But calling it a talent is an insult.

I’m a strong disbeliever of “geniuses” and “dumb people”. I know I’m probably throwing psychology and decades of science out the window. But I believe anyone who has curiosity and the eagerness to learn can produce great things. IQ is a worthless metric and so is EQ. Humans react in different ways and you can’t slap a number to people and call it a day. Different people are bad at one thing and great at the other. Everyone is capable of being skilled. They just have to find what their drive is. Slapping a standardised course and expecting everyone to react the same or love it is a great recipe for disaster.

Which brings me to college. The college environment is horrendous, frankly and the fact that college is tied to your future job makes it even more so. You don’t go there to actually learn. You just want to pass the next exam and get that degree. Let me ask you something, do you actually understand what you read? Why it happens? Why we even use it? It’s simple. College is not going to teach you. Get this idea out of your head. The best teacher you can have is curiosity and the Internet. English also helps massively. Will you actually go to college willingly if there’s no degree and the goal was to strictly just to learn? No you wouldn’t and don’t lie to yourself.

College is an investment. An investment to your social life and your future career because yes, it’s 2023 and employers still rely on a degree where the degree holder barely knows anything about his field. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but this is the sad reality here. Obviously some graduates end up with a great skillset but wait… They taught themselves! Go ask them. They had the curiosity and the willingness to learn and they did it. It was nothing to do with college.

I’ve gotta admit though, the social aspect of it is important specially for people who don’t socialise like I stated earlier. College will force you to socialise and eventually make friends. So while you end up learning absolutely nothing useful to the real world you’ll end up with a network of friends and a social life. But anyways, I digress.

So, please. Stop thinking college will prepare you for the future. It’ll prepare you to be a wage slave but nothing more if you don’t help yourself. Have curiosity, actually learn your field and by the time you graduate you’ll have an impressive skillset. It’s free, the biggest library in the world is at your finger tips. Use it and please learn to recognise the difference between skill and talent. Not everyone is talented but anyone can be skilled.