I have never once needed to use the extensive knowledge of the Treaty of Versailles my History GCSE required me to have at the time. I have never spoken French to anybody. I still haven’t got around to reading Far From the Madding Crowd.
All I wanted as a teen was to go to art school. And I did. What I didn’t do was earn a living as an artist because it turned out that I like making art, I’m just not so invested in engaging with all the tedious stuff which surrounds making a living from doing that. So, hooray for love of coding, but are you still going to love it when you’re not doing the fun stuff? If it turns out you don’t, how is dropping out of high school going to harm your chances of doing something else?
If you were in front of me being interviewed and I learned you dropped out of school because you didn’t see the point, I’d want to feel reassured that you are not going to rage-quit writing documentation or running test cases because you didn’t see the point of them either (because your program works, right?). So, how can you prove that to me?
Right now, you have no clue about all the things you don’t know. Every day is learning and it never stops.
One of the things you don’t know is that high-school is not only about learning facts. It’s about learning to show up on time, organising yourself into meeting your deadlines, coming prepared to exams, doing things you don’t want to do and don’t see the point of. Are you doing that? Are you still going to be doing that if nobody going to put you in detention for not doing it?
I hated school with a passion. There isn’t enough money in the world to make me relive those days, so I sympathise with you. But it was important: learning to get along with other people even though they ambushed me outside the loos and tried to wrap me in cling-film is a vital life skill (because the world is full of stupid people you aren’t going to like, but whom you have to sit next to anyway). Learning when to shut up because I’m not as clever as I think I am has been even more vital.
I can’t tell you if quitting is the right thing, even if you get your diploma through other means. If possible, I’d say try and graduate early and spend the rest of your school year at a McJob. The money will come in useful.
But talk to people. Is there a teacher of guidance counsellor who you can talk to? Is this really about the fact you don’t see the point in what you’re learning, or is there something else going on? I was bullied, dreadfully. I would have left school if I could, for the same reasons as you, but it would have really been because I was sick of having to keep my head down and put up with everything. It’s hard. It shouldn’t happen - to anybody - but it does.
If you do quit, I strongly recommend:
- The McJob mentioned above while you continue to learn. It will give you an important perspective (one of the most vital things a developer needs is the ability to empathise with potential users. Retail will teach you all you ever need to know about the depths of human ignorance) and will show you’re not the guy who just rage-quit high-school.
- Get your English and Maths impeccable. Your computer checks your spelling. There’s no excuse. You’re going to writing an awful lot of things down: you need to know how English works.
And when you go for interviews, think about how you’re going to frame your decision. If you tell me you quit because you didn’t see the point of what you were learning - yeah. I’m not going to feel confident about how you’ll fit in at the workplace. Anybody can learn to code. High-school has nothing on a badly managed office.
But, however this goes, there are second chances. There are opportunities for people to learn and change their lives. This choice is not going to irrevocably wreck your life, it may just make it take a little longer for you to get where you’re going. Or it may be a shortcut. There’s only one real way to find out.