Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerburg. Michael Dell. Larry Elisson. Gabe Newell.
Do those names ring bells? Sure hope so. They are technology multi-billionaires. But they are also one other thing that's not obvious: they are all college dropouts. If you are trying to hire someone, and you have an asinine "applicants must have a degree" requirement, you may very well be missing out on the next one of these guys.
You might not have realized, but I dropped out of college, too. I'm not sure if going on to another college and getting a degree strips me of the "dropout" label, but I digress. My non-existent therapist has told me that I can talk about it.
It was 2006, you see. After having completed schooling by writing recipes on index cards at 11 on a Thursday night, my secondary education was complete. Although I was homeschooled, I had the opportunity to go to sunny Pensacola to participate in a graduation ceremony with all the others who had completed the same program that I did.
This program was related to a certain Pensacola Christian College, you see. Because I did their program, I would have a discount there, should I choose to go there. Everything more or less fell right into place. It wasn't until I actually got there and experienced it under its pretty facade did things start to... change.
Although I knew about it beforehand, there were a lot of rules. You could never know if you were breaking one, because you can't fit all their rules in a book. There had to be millions of them; many of them made up on the spot. The first thing I needed to acclimate to was the dress code. If you wanted to play it safe, you needed to wear a suit all the time. There was a specific minimum level of dress for the morning, afternoon, and evening. You kind of get used to it when you get rejected at the dining hall for dinner because you're not wearing a suit coat. Except on Fridays. It was entirely too complicated, and had to be learned through experience.
To leave campus, you had to tell them where you were going, and when you'd be back. Of course, being a preppy christian school with a certain image to uphold, certain places were off limits. Oh, and no mixed groups without a permit granted ahead of time. From what I heard, there was hell to pay should a guy and girl be at the same place, even accidentally.
It was even harder for girls. If under 21 (I think) their parents had to sign a paper saying that it was OK for their little angel to leave campus; otherwise she had to say on campus property at all times; no exceptions. I seem to remember that for the biggest dining hall, girls could only enter through one door.
Of course, no "ungodly" media was allowed. Entire genres of music were forbidden, along with anything that sounded close to it (quite subjective). And no games rated T or above, which eliminated most of the good ones. I'm surprised that they allowed students to keep and administer their own medication.
There were quite strict lights out and wake up times too. But I got to stay up late, because I cleaned the field house every night. It seemed to fit my previous job of closing a drive thru most nights until midnight. Getting up at 7 am did not. And you had to make your bed quickly, too, or else it was demerits for you! I had to catch up on sleeping on the weekends.
Oh yeah, they also handed out demerits for every little thing. At least those seemed to scale with severity of infraction. A few here and there for not keeping up appearances, not being where you were supposed to got more, and so forth. I remember going to Wednesday evening service, and I was on the phone with mom. Bell rang in the dorm. I grabbed my bible, and my roomie was looking for his, but couldn't find it. Second bell. "Ok, here, I have another you can use. Let's go." Turns out borrowing was minorly against the rules, but no one really minded. At the bottom of the stairs there was guy, who I gave a casual "hi" to, then open the door. He responded with a friendly "may I see your ID, please." He wrote both of us up for being 30 seconds late out of the dorm, for a service that began in 20 minutes. Nevermind that the majority of the campus has only 10 minutes to leave one building, cross campus, and up floors of another building for classes, fighting crowds all the way, several times a day.
There was wireless internet access there. It sure was slow, but that wasn't the problem. At my next college, my roomie, Christopher Thompson, said that if you can't get to Google, the internet is broken. By the Chris test, the internet was totally broken there. All we could access was some of the college's sites (oddly some were actually blocked), a few corporate websites, and that was about it. You had to leave campus to actually make the internet work. According to the rules, you could only use your college assigned email account; possessing any others was forbidden, because some students had found them offensive. Bite me. I had a GMail account (still use the same one) and I wasn't giving it up for such a silly little rule. If I was offended, I probably would not have used other accounts for years on end.
No doubt the college spied on everyone. The phones could probably be listened to without warning, voicemails listened to, etc. Everyone suspected there were microphones in the vents, because you could only use cell phones inside the dorms. I found that out by being told to.
Even though it was September, they were still signing people up to vote. As in, vote for politicians for real government positions. In retrospect, I totally think that was a complete farce. They probably would not have been signing people up unless the precinct was on college property. And if that were so, if the college found out that you voted for the candidate that was not endorsed (no doubt they would want to know), you would probably be penalized (at least that's the way I think of it).
Let's not forget that I was majoring in computer science. It seemed to be a minor field, like most of the other courses of study. The student body seemed to be dominated by bible major undergrads.
No doubt I'm missing plenty, but this place was simply death by 5 million paper cuts. I could barely tolerate the place after a week, and I only stayed for three. So thanks Pensacola, thanks for making me a college dropout. I'm a God loving American that enjoys his freedom. This was totally your fault.