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Issa Jean Marie

@issadevs founder

16th March, 2023

Why you should not drop out of college! I learned it the hard way!

Why you should not drop out of college! I learned it the hard way!

In 2022, 56% of students in the United States dropped out of college for different reasons!

One may say that it’s crazy to just leave college. Other people depending on their culture and social customs may say that you are going astray. I personally may say that you are crazy too, but that will definitely depend on the situation you are in.

It’s been 8 months since I dropped out of college and this is my first blog post, yeah my first blog post, and guess what? I dropped out of college to start blogging and creating other social media content.

Honestly, it’s not easy out here in this life, I wish someone had told me this before. But lucky you, I am about to tell you about it, the whole TRUTH.

First things first, I do not regret leaving the school, however, I do think that it’s not for everyone.

In this blog post, I will tell you my whole story, when and why I dropped out, what my plans were, and how I am doing in life right now, and guide you in deciding on what to do if you are considering leaving the school. So, grab a cup of coffee and be ready to read on.

🦸 I was good at Physics, Programming, Maths... most subjects.

I was one of the best students. I loved to study, in fact, I always told myself that I would get the highest degree possible in the world. And then something happened. I lost interest in studies, I lost hope in schools. But it didn’t just happen, there were motives.

When I was in high school, I put all of my hopes into education. It was such a hustle to leave home when the new school term was beginning, I am not going to go into details, but I do believe that you understand when someone is struggling to afford fees.

So, I always believed that school will open so many doors for me, I couldn’t see anything else working out without a good education. I told myself, or at least thought, “Just study, you will get good grades, and get a good degree, and everything will change.” I really worked hard in high school, if I can work hard the same way I did in high school, I could own an airplane in less than 5 years - I’m exaggerating, but I did work hard, trust me.

In 2019 I graduated and my hopes were higher than a kid’s in Christmas gift. After two weeks, if I remember clearly, I got, let me quote it, “an offer”. It was literally a dead-end job. I had illiterate coworkers, the salary wasn’t even enough to afford internet. It was definitely a dead-end.

My family advised me on taking it, so, I did. I worked for 12 months. I was…, I can’t say depressed, let me go with “LOST”.

I kept ignoring everything and tried to adjust until December 2020. I said enough is enough, I can’t keep going anymore. But before that, I tried to apply for web development jobs. I started looking for connections and luckily I got a challenge from one of my brother’s friends. And I failed the challenge. That’s when my hatred for schools began.

I told myself, I spent 6 years in high school and I can’t solve this simple challenge? (It was a simple landing page by the way). So, I started going to my dead-end job with JavaScript notes. It looked very weird, but I am glad I did.

But also before that, I got a scholarship to Turkey, in Computer engineering. But because of COVID-19 we couldn’t go, so they told us that we should take an online class, which I did take for only a month and got an option to continue by the time I get to Turkey.

Ooh, I forgot, I had quit my dead-end job by now. So, after offering us taking classes when we get to Turkey, I took that offer immediately. But I didn’t tell my family. Probably the most positive lie I have ever lied.

I told my family that I was taking Turkish lessons when I was actually teaching myself how to code. I had prior skills in coding as I studied software development in high school, but those high-school coding skills weren’t useful in real life.

Remember that I told you that I worked hard in high school, this time I was angry. I couldn’t understand why I can’t get a job. So I got my shit together and sat for more than 18 hours a day watching tutorials, reading documentation, and getting stuck, but telling myself that I can do it, come what may!

🧚 Social media

My life had always been inspired by people on the internet, unfortunately, I had few people to inspire me other than those I saw on the internet. So, I grew this concept that a single post on the internet can change someone’s perspective. That’s when I started sharing my learning progress on Instagram. People noticed until one person approached me and asked me to meet.

His offer wasn’t clear, again I am not going into details, but I rejected it. Because we connected, later on, he shared with me a recruitment announcement from a company called Awesomity Lab, my current employer.

It was a coding challenge, and I had been learning for less than 3 months. But I said, what’s there to lose, let me try it. If I pass, there is a chance that I might get a job, if I fail I will know that I still have a journey ahead.

I took the challenge, and lucky me, I passed. Well done!

I joined their boot camp and when I graduated from it, I got hired (by the same company)! KUDOS!!!!!

🔓 New fear unlocked!

It was a wake-up call to me. I had been deceived all this time. I joined the job market. I started writing resumes and exploring LinkedIn (now with intention). I actually started thinking about the future! - Yeah, that’s a lot 😂

But seriously, I saw opportunities that are available for everyone on a simple condition, HAVE WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. And guess what, to me, it seemed like the schools weren’t offering it.

🔑 I will explain:

I had spent 6 years in high school and couldn’t solve a simple challenge, and I couldn’t get a job. But now I spent less than 3 months learning from YouTubers, only paying for the internet, and now got hired. Who am I not to believe in the misuse of our time by going to school? So my hatred for schools became even bigger. I started believing in TEACHING MYSELF.

I got hired, and after like a month I got another job offer. Everything was going well, I even thought that it was too good to be true. Me? Jobless guy a few months ago and now got two job offers from giant companies in Rwanda and worldwide?

And when I was just celebrating, I got a congratulatory email from a scholarship I recently applied for. I was admitted! It all happened so fast that I couldn’t think.

Now I was confused. Quit my job and go to school or ignore the school? Personally, I wasn’t sure. But I had already developed a hatred for schools, so I wanted to stay. But society and family pushed me. So, I asked for a remote position at Awesomity Lab and fortunately got it and then flew to Turkey!

It was very exciting, Awesomity Lab posted wishing me luck, my family accompanied me to the Airport, and my brother’s plan for me was to never see me back soon (positively).

🤗 My life in Turkey

I won’t tell you about my experience flying for the first time even if I want to, maybe I will make a YouTube video for that.

So, in Turkey. A very warm welcome at the airport, someone holding a billboard with my name on it, a private taxi to our reserved accommodation, everything was so great.

I spent like two months there just traveling around, enjoying the country, and struggling with their language.

Issa Jean Marie In Turkey

Then the language class started. Remember, I also had a remote job. It started small, a few hours a day, with no pressure, no assignments, just chilling and learning culture and getting used to their tea.

So, we finished level 1. I passed with no problem. Then level 2. Things started to change. Lessons became a lot, we were spending 6+ hours in the classroom and getting assignments that would take at least 3+ hours. I was also working, and by that time, I had started taking Google UI/UX design course.

So, I decided to only spend my time on Turkish lessons when we were in the classroom, when we leave, we leave, I am not going to do the assignments. Honestly, I had little to no time for assignments so I had to try polyphasic sleep. So, I kept doing my job, taking UI/UX courses and taking Turkish language courses at the same time. You may say, why can’t you ignore UI/UX course and focus on the language? I couldn’t. I wanted so badly to broaden my career.

Then I passed level 2 by luck. Trust me, learning a new language requires time and a lot of attention. I had neither.

In level 3 things got worse. My career was falling apart, I could see myself forgetting everything, and my boss told me that there might be a new way of working (which wasn’t good) for remote employees. My Google UI/UX design course that I had been taking for months started to slow down, it even stopped for months.

🤔 What was my plan then?

I wanted to chase my career more than a degree. So, I did research before doing anything stupid. I thought, if I can get great skills from university, then I will get a good job when I graduate, and I believe that would have been fine. So, that gave me the option of quitting my job.

I was definitely willing to quit my job and focus on my studies instead of failing repeatedly. But only if the university was promising.

Then I asked for the curriculum. It was not promising at all. With a curriculum for 4 years, I couldn’t see what I will be capable of when I graduate. Just basic coding skills that I learned a couple of years ago.

So, I said, I am going to quit my job and chase a degree. When I graduate I won’t have the skills that the software industry needs, I will have to go through BootCamp again and build my experience from scratch.

And also said, what if I drop out of college, build my career, and have 5+ years of experience by the time I would have graduated? Will a fresh graduate get a job before someone with 5+ years of experience because of a degree? No, I don’t think so, the possibility is very small. THEN I DECIDED TO LEAVE THE SCHOOL!

🪣 My options:

My options were: 1: hunt a job and stay in Turkey, and 2: ask for an offer and come back to Rwanda. The first one was more favorable to me because I thought it would be a shame to come back when I just left, and it usually is. Trust me, it took me a lot of guts to come back.

So, I chased a residence and work permit and it was too hard to get either. Conditions were expensive compared to coming back to my country. So, I said, what the hell? There is no place like home. So, I flew back to Rwanda.

🤔 But what was really my plan?

Seriously, what was my plan after dropping out of college? Well, I always try to keep things as simple as possible, so, I tried to simplify this one as well.

My plan was this: Drop out of college, build my experience enough to never lose a job, and start a business that will save me when I retire.

That’s it. Simple, isn’t it?

About the job, I already had one, all I had to do was do it well and iterate on that. So, career development was already in progress. But what about the business? Remember I told you that I was once doing social media content? Well, I haven’t stopped except that I really slowed down my pace.

So, my business was supposed to be an online business. Start a blog (which is this one you are reading, THANK GOD I MADE IT!!), and become a content creator on Instagram and YouTube….

I had a calendar and everything before I came back to Rwanda, everything was in order, including how to start and grow my business, and what my days will be like, I even brought a camera to start a YouTube channel. But things didn’t go as expected!

😵 I went astray

Do you remember that I said that “dropping out of college isn’t for everyone”? I started to doubt if it was for me.

But how did I go astray?

There is one thing you need to know, there are many reasons why schools exist. One of them is helping you with what you can’t when you are all on your own, and that’s DISCIPLINE. Schools help us with discipline. They plan an entire academic year for us, they have what to teach us every single day, they will punish you when you are late or if you didn’t submit your assignments, and you will fail and get a chance to undo things before it’s too late. Weeeell, life doesn’t offer all of those options, in fact, it doesn’t offer any of them.

Normally, I am a self-disciplined person, I am sure that I can set things and do them as I said. But when I dropped out of college things changed. I got independence that I never had before. Feeling that there is no school anymore and that I can do whatever I want, put a veil onto my face.

My stick to the plan motto changed, addictions that I thought I will quit grew even bigger, and my work ethic dropped dramatically.

I had more than enough time to chase my dreams instead I would scroll till I run out of internet bundles. I had resources and everyone to help me, but procrastination took over. That’s, my friend, how I went astray.

I had so many wake-up calls but ignored them. My domain had a “COMING SOON” message for months.

But guess what? I couldn’t realize that I was going astray. Until one day!

💪 How I got back!

There is something that I never do intentionally, I pick things from jokes. I can pick a word from a non-serious conversation and have it in my heart for many years. That’s how I get my wake-up calls. But FYI, it doesn’t bother me at all!

Probably a month ago, we had been talking about schools with my co-workers, and sometimes I could pick takeaways from those funny conversations. Then once we talked about how I dropped out. Of course, it was a funny conversation, and I was one of the people leading it. But when I got back home, I thought, Ooh my God, I dropped out of college, and it was a fully-funded scholarship, and I haven’t done a single thing that I said I will do!!!

Then, I said, enough is enough. I sat down during the night, planned and planned, and promised myself to do every single thing on my calendar and I think I am doing great so far, if I didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.

During that night, I decided to never do any side project.

One thing that keeps us from doing what we want to do, is doing what we think is more important when in fact it isn’t. Another thing that stopped me from doing what I said I will do before I dropped out, is having other plans that I thought were priorities. I could say, let me do this side project for a month, then I will come back to my bigger plan.

I could tell myself, let me learn this skill (and then don’t) and I will come back to my bigger plan later on.

I had so many wake-up calls but ignored them. My domain had a “COMING SOON” message for months.

Then this night changed everything. I canceled other plans that I had, closed/postponed all of the side projects, and told myself to stick to the plan. I am still struggling, but I do believe that I am back. Let’s hope for the best 🙏

Here you have it! My whole story. How and why I dropped out of college, how I procrastinated to do what I had to do, and how I am getting back to work on my plans.

🙋 Why this story?

I didn’t write this blog post to just tell my story. I wrote it for people to read it and get a glimpse of what it feels like to be a dropout. I wrote it for those who are considering dropping out to know the situation before they make the decision.

If you tell me that you want to drop out of college and that you are looking for advice, I always ask you: don’t you like college? Another question that I ask is: do you have something to do after dropping out?

If you answer those questions, then we can start discussing other things like your parents’ acceptance of your decision, your backup plan, and maybe what your current skills are. And believe me, when I say this, many people have asked me this question on my Instagram page and those who know me in person.

That is a frame that can give you pure insights on whether you should drop out or stick to college.

🤔 So, who should drop out of college?

As I said, dropping out of college isn’t for everyone. But if you think that what you want in life is not going to be offered by the college, and you have an alternative, then I think you can leave.

Let me give you an example:

You want to become a photographer. But now you are doing accounting classes in college. You have the skills required to become a photographer and let’s assume you have the resources to get started. You also believe that when you graduate you will still be a photographer and the skills you are getting in college may not help you in any way. Why can’t you just quit and become a photographer?

Another example:

Someone texted me before I dropped out of college asking me about starting a master's degree.

She is a businesswoman in the construction industry. She wasn’t looking for advice, she was just asking me about the situation in Turkey, schools, tuition, and those kinds of things. But I thought this woman might be going to make a very big mistake.

I tried to sound as if I was minding my own business. But I asked her this question: “You have a business, right?” And she said, “Yeah, actually it’s a big one” Then I asked her, “What will you be sacrificing when you come to chase a master’s degree?” “I will be leaving my family, husband and kids, and my business.” She answered. Then I asked her, “Do you ever plan to apply for a job?”. “Definitely not.” She answered confidently. Then I asked her, “Then what are you going to use that degree for?” and she answered me in a confusion, “Just keep it, I guess! I mean I feel like I should have one”

I kept telling her that if she is not going to ever need a degree then she should consider other options. She eventually told me that it would have been a mistake, and she let college go.

I hope those examples painted a picture.

To conclude, if you are thinking about dropping out of college, know this before:

  • Life is tough

    You may end up not doing things you told yourself to do. Make sure you have strong self-discipline to fight against your ego and dopamine.

  • Know your career

    If you know for sure that there is a chance of getting a job in your industry without a degree, then get the needed skills online and drop out. I can’t advise you on dropping out if you want to become a doctor, where else will you get skills?

  • Lower your expectations

    You will expect to succeed in one year. There is no such thing. Know that it takes time.

  • Avoid plans

    Avoid anything that isn’t aligned with the plans you had. Don’t plan for anything else, just do what you said you will do.

  • Family

    You may lose your family after telling them about your idea. Make sure your family agrees with you, or at least you won’t be cast out. That’s why I told you to find something to do before you drop out, it may help you to convince them. By the way, if my family disagreed, I would still be in college.

Know this, you may feel low after dropping out, and that’s totally fine but just know that you always have to get yourself up otherwise you may end up in a very wrong direction and feel regret.

Also, know that it’s not the end. If it doesn’t go as you planned, go back to college if you can. I know people may laugh at you and you may think that you wasted your time and got nothing, but it’s never too late and as I said, dropping out wasn’t probably for you.

If you have decided to drop out of college, I wish you all the best. And just know that I don’t regret anything, at least not yet!

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