Now I know why I didn’t reapply for Marks Hall

Those who know me might know that I didn’t re-apply to live in Marks Hall, my dormitory at USC, next year. Why? Don’t I like it here? I was telling myself that I do; that I’m only looking for a new experience; that I wanted to go elsewhere, do something else, explore further, be more independent, break free of the meal plan, cook my own meals, live in an apartment…

I was wrong.

The actual reason I didn’t re-apply is that I’m sick and tired of school. I’m not really learning anything I’ll ever use again. I’m working for grades and not skills, and it’s not stretching my mind in the right ways at all. The professors here regurgitate what’s in the book, maybe with a few things they added themselves, but still not anything I couldn’t find on my own on the web. It simply does not make sense to be here anymore. I’ve found that the benefits of being in a university setting are the people alone; the classes are truly a waste of time.

I used to me a lot more optimistic. I used to think professors knew something I didn’t. That there was a reason to sit through lectures and absorb something through osmosis, through my ears merely listening to the professor babble on.

Yes, I was mistaken. Unfortunately, this method of learning does not work for me. I know what I want to do, and, thanks to the Internet and the spread of computers, I can do it independently. The only thing school has done is hold me back. And I’m not speaking empty words. It’s not just a temporary state of rebellion. It’s a true epiphany, a realization I should’ve come to years ago, in the height of the excitement of Gmail and the Google IPO and YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and pbwiki. For my entire life, since I’d been old enough, I’d been following them. So far, I’ve just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. But now is the time. There’s room for more. All that remains? I’m in the wrong place. Marks Hall is that wrong place. Quite possibly, USC is that wrong place.

We have plenty of intellectuals here, yes. But they’re educated into the ways of the world, the ways that society learns and functions. They’ll be doctors, businessmen, marketers, circuit designers, and they’ll do their work and collect their paycheck from their bosses, no risk, no question. That’s fine for them. That’s not fine for me.

College is good for people who are still exploring, or people who are looking to work at a major corporation, because they look for GPAs, degrees, connections, recommendations. They’ll get somewhere. They’ll accomplish something. Their companies will own it. They’ll be forced to do things they don’t enjoy. They won’t be innovators. They’ll add value in established ways. They’ll do the grunge work, do overtime coding to a spec they didn’t invent, they’ll finish their tasks, check off their timecards. They’ll make money for the company, and the company will give them their paycheck in return. If they can live in that life, good.

But I’ve always been different. In 1996, only a handful of 8-year-olds had access to the web. Probably only a fraction of them understood it well enough to create their own webpage. I was one of them. And it didn’t stop there. I’ve been obssessed ever since. It’s just an obsession, though. I do it because I know I’m making the world a better place (just look at the comments! And I suspect that most people don’t comment).

So I, along with a couple select co-founders who I have yet to find or meet, am going to change the world in a great way. But trudging along on my Thematic Option papers isn’t going to get me there.

4 Responses to “Now I know why I didn’t reapply for Marks Hall”

  1. roy says:

    take care of yourself elliot
    we’ll talk more 2moro

  2. katy says:

    I don’t think you’ve a mistake. Hindsight is always 20/20, as they say. You’ve grown to this point, and nothing has been wasted.
    Nat wrote this on her blog which I thought articulated your stage of life very well: I am old enough to participate in activities that were once unavailable to me, and I feel mentally and emotionally developed enough to understand many concepts and ideas that previously eluded me. At the same time, I know I am still very young. And for once, that is a strength and not a weakness because it means there are myriad opportunities waiting for me. Thousands of unopened doors. In short, I feel like I am on the cusp of a very pivotal stage of my earthly existence, and it fills me with eager anticipation.

  3. Trevor Johns says:

    I know a lot of people in the CS department have felt this way at times, including myself.

    All I can say is hold in there. You’re already half-way done, and you haven’t even gotten to the exciting classes yet. Just wait until you get to take CSCI 445 and 402.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’ve been on the Internet since 1994. :)

  4. TJ says:

    How much TO have you done? If it’s less than, say, half of it, you might want to email Richard Edinger and see about articulating out. If you do end up leaving USC, then I wish you all the best and everything. But I’m getting out of TO (meeting with the TO office today actually) and I think it’s gonna make everything feel a lot more practical and less theoretical-bullshity, for lack of a better term.

    Whatever you do, don’t stop fighting on.

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