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What You'll Wish You'd Known

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the to-boldly-go dept.

Education 798

sheck writes "Eminent computer scientist, author, painter, and dot-com millionaire, Paul Graham has written down the things he wishes somebody had told him when he was in high school in What You'll Wish You'd Known, suggesting, among other things, that students treat school like a day job, working on interesting projects to avoid what he has found to be the most common regret among adults of their high school days: wasting time."

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798 comments

What I wish I'd known... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432282)

She was really a he.

Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing.. (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432283)

What I wished I had known:

People

Most of the people you graduate with, no matter how popular/smart/wonderful they were in high-school will probably be completely worthless in college. Some will likely come home to be with their group of friends from high-school again and may not even finish college. They will be happy in their small group of friends forever, which is fine, but certainly don't believe that you need to limit yourself to that.

Class

That the reason I did reasonably well in high-school with very little outside work was because I went to class. Even if I slept through some of it I was taking it all in. You cannot succeed unless you attend class. Don't think that when you get to college or the real world you can succeed by not showing up just because you don't have to. It doesn't work like that.

College

Going to a four-year college and getting a degree really isn't all that important anymore. Yeah, you get a job, yeah you get money, and yeah you have fun but honestly the pay off in the end really isn't all that worth it.

I have seen plenty of people with high-school diplomas or two year degrees from a community college/tech school do just as well (if not better) than me and my more expensive four-year degree.

Don't give in to the pressures put on you by your social group, family, and school when there are plenty of opportunities out there for those of you that aren't interested in jumping straight into four-year degrees.

LPNs, construction, HVAC, general laborers under Union guidance all make great money and may even make twice as much as a four-year graduate starting... If you aren't interested in school for the next four or five years explore some other options. They are open and ready to make you into something that you may not have had the chance to know about.

Wasting time

Honestly, you aren't going to have much of a chance to "waste time" once you are done with school. People graduate and either jump right into working or go to college. After these small steps they start families and their chance to "waste time" is over for the next 25 years.

I hear all the time that "thirty is the new twenty". Take advantage of your age, your freedoms, and your time. Use it however you want. Right now I'm more interested in doing things that I know I won't be able to do 10 years from now. Responsibility sucks use your time however you see fit.

What I learned was that I needed to decide for myself what I wanted. Anyone who might read his article (or mine) might want to as well.

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432381)

Don't think that when you get to college or the real world you can succeed by not showing up just because you don't have to. It doesn't work like that./BLOCKQUOTE Oh yes it does! (if you're sufficiently smart) Clearly, you aren't! Too bad!

"youth is wasted on the young" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432402)

By the time you are old enough to want to make a list of things to tell young people they need to do to be happy, you are too old to relate to any young person in a meaningful or influential way. But inevitably, generation after generation, the old people are compelled to spew advice which the young will absorb, but ignore, until they themselves are old and ready to acknowledge its correctness (and then to futilely victimize that generation with advice).

I think the biggest cause of regret in young people is mixed messages being sent from all directions from know-it-all nannys who all regret their own youth and so want to live vicariously through others still in possession of it. Laissez faire.

Re:"youth is wasted on the young" (4, Interesting)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432487)

To some extent, I'd agree...

I'm still young, just fresh out of college. While my high school days were packed with a lot of outside projects and involvement, I regret not having spent my time better in college. On the other hand, I'm still young enough to see my brothers and a few friends in the same situation.

The result is that I'm able to spend my time better now, which will certainly pay off later. While you can look back and realize that you might have spent your time better (who doesn't wish they'd invested in some tech stocks at the right time?) you can also feel satisfied knowing that you weren't wasting all of it on something with no payoff. I spent so many hours of college seeing how fast I could beat each level of the 8-bit Mario Super Bros.

Speaking of wasting time, I think my Slashdot break has gone on long enough.

Re:"youth is wasted on the young" (4, Insightful)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432500)

By the time you are old enough to want to make a list of things to tell young people they need to do to be happy, you are too old to relate to any young person in a meaningful or influential way.

Regrettably, this is due to age discrimination. Thanks to the public schooling (which has setup this concept of people of the same age range, all from a very early age, doing the exact same thing as everyone else, and worse, socializing with people of a very small age range.)

So people grow up with this bizarrely narrow view of the world...people who are 19 do X, people 24 do Y, people 36 do Z.

As I like to say, if you're over 14 and half your friends are within 5 years of your own age, you're doing something wrong. Widsom and expertise will come to you from a wide range of people.

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432426)

Most of the people you graduate with, no matter how popular/smart/wonderful they were in high-school will probably be completely worthless in college. Some will likely come home to be with their group of friends from high-school again and may not even finish college. They will be happy in their small group of friends forever, which is fine, but certainly don't believe that you need to limit yourself to that.

There's also an important corollary to this: The opinion of high-school classmates doesn't really matter. Knowing this would have done me a lot of good. Don't bother trying to impress your peers in high school. In fact, go ahead and embarrass yourself. It won't be the end of the world. A year after graduation, no one will remember or care. If anyone does remember and care, those are the weirdos whose entire life will be spent obsessing on high school, the people who never move on with their lives, and so their opinion isn't worth much worry.

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432589)

I don't necessarily agree with this. On the one hand, yeah, no one cares about the opinion of a bunch of high-schoolers ten years down the road. But on the other hand, it's important to develop the skills which will allow you to fit in and otherwise excel. Social skills, in other words.

High school is a broken system, but if people are stuck there, they might as well take advantage of the situation and polish their people skills. And in the end, it's social skills that really help in adult life.

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (4, Insightful)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432449)

I have seen plenty of people with high-school diplomas or two year degrees from a community college/tech school do just as well (if not better) than me and my more expensive four-year degree.

i have come to the conclusion that the self-taught are the people you want to work with and for.

the self-taught have a better skillset at picking up new skillsets when the pressure is on, they're more willing to and capable of learning by experimentation, they tend to be far more flexible and diverse in their abilities and they're are often more motivated to try out new solutions.

three cheers for the autodidacts [princeton.edu]

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (4, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432590)

I agree self-taught is great, however you should be carefull not to fall in the 'I don't need school' trap.
Self teaching works best for those subjects you are really interested in, use school to bring the rest up to 'standard'.

Even if you teach yourself a subject its great to hear it again in school, the teacher will most likely teach it from another viewpoint and I have found that this can help you from knowing about it to totally understanding it.

Jeroen

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (4, Funny)

TheViffer (128272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432468)

Going to a four-year college and getting a degree really isn't all that important anymore. Yeah, you get a job, yeah you get money, and yeah you have fun but honestly the pay off in the end really isn't all that worth it.


Very good point, and I totally agree, seriously. As the great Judge Smails has stated, "the world needs ditch diggers to".

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (1)

ducatier (669395) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432478)

"Going to a four-year college and getting a degree really isnt all that important anymore. Yeah, you get a job, yeah you get money, and yeah you have fun but honestly the pay off in the end really isnt all that worth it." I believe i heard a statistic on NPR a few months back (please correct me if i'm wrong) that on average people who go to college end up making 1 million dollars more over thier life time than those who do not go to college. sure there are a few exception. http://www.forbes.com/2003/07/28/cx_dd_0728mondaym atch.html but those people had a clear goal. most who drop out of highschool don't have a clear gaol

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432510)

That the reason I did reasonably well in high-school with very little outside work was because I went to class. Even if I slept through some of it I was taking it all in. You cannot succeed unless you attend class. Don't think that when you get to college or the real world you can succeed by not showing up just because you don't have to. It doesn't work like that.

The reason I did well in college was because I didn't go. It took a class full of people 3 weeks to understand an iteration. To me that was a given. Granted, in my second year I went more often, not because of the intresting programming classes, but the difficulty of non-computer classes.

Even now when there's certification courses, I'd rather take the time to study them on my own than go to classes filled with people that don't understand netmasks or recursion. I just find it a waste of time to sit through something I can teach myself quicker.

Advice from an Old AC to young whippersnappers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432546)

Get the hell off my lawn.

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432568)

I hear all the time that "thirty is the new twenty". Take advantage of your age, your freedoms, and your time. Use it however you want. Right now I'm more interested in doing things that I know I won't be able to do 10 years from now. Responsibility sucks use your time however you see fit.
No thanks! That sounds exactly like the "wisdom of youth," the kind that will later lead a person to regret wasting so much time when they were younger (that is, if they ever gain any real wisdom, which isn't a given).

Re:Learn it all for yourself. It's part of growing (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432574)

Man --

Look at the statistics. People who get college degrees do much better financially in life. There are plenty of exceptions, sure. But they are still only a fraction of the population. Suggestions like yours don't do anything but give people excuses not to advance themselves.

If they are self-motivated enough to learn what they have to learn without college then they don't need to hear it from you.

Okay... (5, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432295)


I think that when the *very first word* in your story is misspelled, you should probably hand in your "Lil' Editors' Fun Club" membership card.

Re:Okay... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432324)



Tricky. They fixed it, but it was "emminent" for a minute. You're gonna get mod-bombed anyway, though.

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432369)

Why is his favicon the Y! of Yahoo's website?

Well (3, Funny)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432300)

I say Boo friggin' hoo. There is always time if you have the inclination. Rodney Dangerfield started doing comedy when he was in his 40s.

Re:Well (0)

kaustik (574490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432429)

And Rodney Dangerfield was the worst, most annoying, and most played out comic I can think of. Having Rodney do a 5 minute guest spot completely destroyed the validity of any movie. Maybe if he had thought ahead, he would have decided to cut the world a break and teach highschool PE or something instead...

Re:Well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432464)

Common, give the guy a little respect.

get a Roth IRA (3, Interesting)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432305)

Seriously. If you crunch the numbers and look at how much you'll make in interest by investing early, you will see that a Roth in high school will go a long way to paying for retirement. A Roth in your 30s doesn't do much.

Re:get a Roth IRA (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432382)

Ummm... not exact sure about the tax rules for a Roth (USA) account are but for a RRSP (CDN) account, I wouldn't go too gun-ho on it at an early age.

1. Your main advantage, taxes, are minimized because you are in the lowest tax bracket. Unless you don't intend increase your salary more than the standard increase your company/union gives you.
2. You won't know how the best way to invest in things. There is a good chance you won't make a good choice.
3. You might be better off paying off loans.

Re:get a Roth IRA (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432505)

For a Roth IRA, which is probably the simplest one the the US, you put in after-tax money. You are not taxed on the gains. Thus being in the lowest tax braket is an advantage because you don't pay much at the start and you don't pay at the end.

I agree that high schoolers have no clue about where to invest. A personal finance class should be required for all high-schoolers to graduate. Put it into a index fund if you have no clue. Move it when you have a clue if you think you can do better.

High-schoolers usually don't have loans to pay off. If you have educational loans from college you are generally paying a low interest rate on them and you are better off paying them off normally and investing.

Re:get a Roth IRA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432506)

1. Your main advantage, taxes, are minimized because you are in the lowest tax bracket.

Actually, that maximizes the advantage.

The way a Roth works is, you pay taxes on the money going in, so you don't have to pay taxes on it later. Paying the lower rate when you are young is even better.

2. You won't know how the best way to invest in things.

A Roth in one of those rip-off managed accounts, or even a regular savings account, is still a better deal than socking it away under the full tax burden on a non-IRA investment.

3. You might be better off paying off loans.

Best advice of your whole post. Paying down debt is often one of the best investments you can make, especially loans for college, cars, or credit. Even paying down the principal of your mortgage can sometimes be a good idea. The less debt you carry, the better off you are.

Re:get a Roth IRA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432532)

1. The idea behind the Roth IRA is you pay the taxes as the money goes in, and don't have to pay them when they come out. In HS, you're paying hardly any taxes, probably less then you'll be paying at retirement. 2. There is always a good chance you won't make a good choice. There's no reason you can't get the information to make a good choice when you're in HS, and you have to start practicing these choices at some point. 3. What loans do you have to pay off when you're in HS?

Re:get a Roth IRA (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432417)

Yep and I'm surprised he didn't mention that saving every penny possible to establish an account with F.U. money is important. Reducing stress from not living paycheck-to-paycheck greatly adds to quality of life and career path decision making. It's easier to do this when you're twenty than married with two kids.

Re:get a Roth IRA (5, Insightful)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432443)

ran some quick numbers, very simplistic. YMMV.

I assumed 10% return under two scenarios:
In the first $3000 is invested each year as a 15, 16, and 17 year-old, for a total of $9k put in. Then no more investing is done. At 65 you have $963,381.

Second scenario is starting to invest at 30 and putting in $3k per year until 65. A total of $108,000 is invested. At 65 you have $897,380.

The moral of the story? You can't afford not to put money away when you are young. Sacrifice early for long term gains.

Note that I am not suggesting that you stop after high school. I am suggesting that you start right now and not stop.

Re:get a Roth IRA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432571)

On a similar note, I say pick a good fund. No bonds stuff when you're young. Go high risk/high growth.

Re:get a Roth IRA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432573)

In the first $3000 is invested each year as a 15, 16, and 17 year-old, for a total of $9k put in.

When I was 15, 16, and 17, I didn't have $3000 a year to put in.

No, get a car. (1)

L.Bob.Rife (844620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432548)

How about a car instead. Being able to experience a whole new world of freedom is a lot more interesting than investing so you can be a rich geezer.

Life isn't only about making the largest possible amount of money before you die.

reading between the lines (2, Funny)

darkcompanion (83362) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432313)

Maybe we should read this as :

Emminent computer scientist, author, painter, and dot-com millionaire, Paul Graham has written down the things he wishes somebody had told him when he was in high school in What You'll Wish You'd Known, suggesting, among other things, that students treat school like a day job, working on interesting projects to avoid what he has found to be the most common regret among adults of their high school days: reading Slashdot."

That's great (4, Insightful)

delmoi (26744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432316)

You know, I kind of doubt it would really be possible to convice a highschooler that they really will wish they studied harder once they're an adult.

Re:That's great - controlled mayem is the answer (1)

Analogy Man (601298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432412)

It is an easier sell to convince a more energetic HS student to do something interesting with their time. Unleash borderline dangerous things on them (e.g. a neon sign transformer (enough voltage to drive a Jacob's ladder), anarchist cookbook chemistry set (in small volumes), lasers (they're a lot cheaper now than when I was in school).

I was lucky in that I did manage to get my homework out of the way and participate in the fun parts of running around with friends. Taking a gut check while hanging out by asking "what do you want to DO" does not have to be a buzz killer.

Mising the Point (5, Insightful)

robocrop (830352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432327)

Anyone else think this guy missed the point? Most people I know who whined about "wasting time" in high school weren't lamenting the lack of challenging, thought-provoking experiments to conduct in their spare time. They wanted more time to party and get wasted.

Not that partying and getting wasted are inherently bad things, but I will say that all the people I know who kept telling me "school is a waste of time" are working in grocery stores and casinos, so one can draw their own conclusions.

This seems more like another one of those bits of advice tainted by the rosy hue of nostalgia, and which better applies to adults. I definitely agree that, as an adult, it is imperative that you find something to do in your spare time that interests you. Otherwise the dull drudgery of the daily grind would begin to wear.

What I Wish (5, Interesting)

Deinhard (644412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432330)

It sounds funny, but it isn't. I wish I'd known that my math teachers through High School were PE majors and math minors. Going to a small private school in the mid-south, they were all coach/teachers (sometimes in that order).

After I got an A in College Algebra my senior year, I was sure I was ready for the CS curriculum in college. That first week of Calculus proved me wrong. What I learned later was that, despite my grades, I really didn't know math all that well.

That was 22 years ago. I've since picked up higher-level math on my own, but it would have been a lot easier if I'd been given the groundwork ahead of time.

Re:What I Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432370)

After I got an A in College Algebra my senior year, I was sure I was ready for the CS curriculum in college. That first week of Calculus proved me wrong.

Algebra != Calculus. They're two completely different systems within the same field (math). I know many people who excel in one, but not the other.

Would you expect someone to say, "I did really well in chemistry during high school, so I was certain I'd do great as a cellular biology major in university, as they're both science"?

Re:What I Wish (1)

Deinhard (644412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432545)

Agreed. However, would you not agree that someone with grounding in those disciplines would be better suited to pursue higher learning?

I would think that your example is closer to the truth than saying "I did really well in physics during high school, so I was certain I'd do great as a Medieval History major in university."

The only difference is that, though I thought I did really well in math, I really didn't learn anything.

Re:What I Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432593)

Algebra != Calculus. They're two completely different systems within the same field (math).

I think you are might be missing the point the grandparent poster is trying to state; a lot of highschool graduates think they will automatically do well in one college subject just because they got good grades in the highschool subject (me included).

When I went to highschool I took AP Physics, and later when I got into college I slacked a bit in this subject. It did not cost me too much to catch up, but I certainly did learn the lesson. Just because you did well in highschool doesn't mean you can slack in college

Re:What I Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432578)

Algebra in your senior year? Ouch! In any good high school, you should have had your first year of calculus senior year, if you were interested in science-type fields. We finished with algebra as early as 9th grade.

Re:What I Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432579)

If you had taken Trig and/or a High School "pre-Calc" course, you might have been much better off, but keep in mind that a lot of colleges, especially those with an Engineering or CS focus, use Calc 101 as their "weed out" class. They deliberately ramp up the pace of the first year of Calculus, not only so there's a leg-up for more advanced classes, but also to encourage those who can't cut it to drop out sooner rather than later.

Coming from a small school and struggling with Calc is nothing to be ashamed of. I know of one person who flunked out of MIT for the same reason, but bounced back to get a degree in Mathematics from a major university afterwards.

What I'd Wish I'd Known (4, Funny)

Walrus99 (543380) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432340)

I wish I'd known that when I started dating my first wife in college that she would turn out to be such a f****g b***h and gone running the other way.

Re:What I'd Wish I'd Known (1)

big_groo (237634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432529)

I wish I'd known that when I started dating my first wife in college that she would turn out to be such a f****g b***h and gone running the other way.

Funny comment aside, maybe you're the one that changed.

What I wish someone had said... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432344)

... It's women that do the fucking.

Einstein (1)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432346)

From TFA:

In fact I suspect if you had the sixteen year old Shakespeare or Einstein in school with you, they'd seem impressive

I remember reading that Einstein was considered a "slow learner" back in school, so he wouldn't have been terribly impressive. Of course, that just goes to show that it doesn't really matter how "slow" people say you are, only you can realize your own true potential (as corny as it sounds...).

Re:Einstein (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432442)

I remember reading that Einstein was considered a "slow learner" back in school

Urban legend. Einstein was an outstanding student.

Re:Einstein (1)

kaustik (574490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432549)

1895: Albert attempts to skip high school by taking an entrance exam to the Swiss Polytechnic, a top technical university, but he fails the arts portion. His family sends him to the Swiss town of Aarau to finish high school.

1896: Albert graduates from high school at the age of 17 and enrolls at the ETH (the Federal Polytechnic) in Zurich


And some maybe conflicting info from another source:

Though his grades were fair in high school, he was eventually expelled for his rebellious nature. Always an individual, he traveled around before re-enrolling and completing school in his new home in Zurich, Switzerland

Anyone have solid info on this?

Re:Einstein (1)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432475)

Correct. Einstein actually dropped out of high school and composed his first theories while working at a mumblemumble. I can't remember what but it was something mundane. Their equivalent of working for McDonald's.

No wonder he was un-invited (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432360)

From his couldn't-give-it-because-he-got-uninvited-to-the-h igh-school speech:

"There is some variation in natural ability"

No wonder his visit got the veto! That's public school sacriledge! Actually, it's bad news at Harvard now, too, apparently.

How about... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432363)

how to get laid

They told me. (4, Insightful)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432366)

The things I'd say I wish I'd been told in school, they actually told me, but I didn't believe them, because they sounded silly.

Go to a library (4, Insightful)

yorkpaddy (830859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432368)

I wish someone had told me to go to a real library, a college library. I wish someone had told me this in grade school. I remember checking out every Byte magazine at my local library and still wanting to know more. I didn't even bother to check out there books that say "a computer has a cpu, monitor, and keyboard". I wish someone had told me to go to computer groups when I was a lot younger. I wish someone had told me to go to colleges and hang out until I met smart people.

Re:Go to a library (1)

yorkpaddy (830859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432439)

I didn't even bother to check out there books that say "a computer has a cpu, monitor, and keyboard".

oops

I didn't even bother to check out their books that said "a computer has a cpu, monitor, and keyboard".

More 'You Must Love Your Work' Brainwashing (5, Insightful)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432373)

The author writes:
What you need to do is discover what you like. You have to work on stuff you like if you want to be good at what you do.

Why do our lives have to center around friggin' work? I would rather not work at all. And most people feel the same way, if they would just admit it. If we had the adequate resources, wouldn't we choose NOT to work at all, or just work a little bit?

So what is wrong with just admitting the truth?

Re:More 'You Must Love Your Work' Brainwashing (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432392)

If we had the adequate resources, wouldn't we choose NOT to work at all, or just work a little bit?

Um... just who would be actually producing all of those adequate resources if everyone was choosing not to work?

Re:More 'You Must Love Your Work' Brainwashing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432474)

Our robot slaves you fool!
But I think they should have a really simple auto destruct device in case they turn on their masters. Or they could run a Windows brain, no chance of that ever producing an original thought.

Re:More 'You Must Love Your Work' Brainwashing (2, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432488)

Doing something constructive is better than sitting on your ass all day. Even if you're independently wealthy, you need to have something to keep yourself busy, even if it isn't a typical job...ie charity work, building stuff, traveling. Having a sense of accomplishment requires you to work, no matter what your means are.

Bahhhh! Bahhh! (1)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432551)

You are sure well programmed to work hard so you can buy as much store-bought crap as possible. You are a good little mercantilist sheeple!

You wrote:
Doing something constructive is better than sitting on your ass all day.


I disagree! There is NOTHING better than "sitting on your ass all day." Period.

Re:More 'You Must Love Your Work' Brainwashing (2, Insightful)

Politburo (640618) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432514)

Actually, a lot of rich people still work because they can't find ways to spend their time in a fulfulling way. i.e., they get bored! Yes, it sounds ridiculous to us, but I can imagine after a year or two of travelling and hanging out that I would be looking to do something productive. Granted, since they have enough money, they are able to pick and choose their work, so that they are rarely doing something that they don't like... it's more like being able to work full-time at your hobby.

"wasting time" (5, Insightful)

Saeger (456549) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432374)

Repeat after me: It's not "wasting time" if you're having fun.

It's only those obsessed with status & material wealth who get wrapped up in the notion that every worthwhile waking hour should be spent working on advancing careers and whatnot.

wow (2, Insightful)

LuckyJ (56389) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432390)

I see now why they vetoed this guy. Their eyes must have glazed over reading that thing. Imagine someone giving it as a speech to a young crowd that usually can't stand still for more than two minutes. Sheesh. This guy forgot who his audience was. If it were college grads, it might have been more appropriate, but still, it's a bit windy. Chop it down, bud.

way too long (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432479)

This guy loves to hear himself write.

The observation that he's forgotten who his audience is, is right on.

Score -15 points if I was grading the paper, right off. Way too wordy.

But what's *wrong* with wasting time? (3, Interesting)

arkestra (799166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432394)

Paul Graham is a very highly-driven individual, and his advice would work well for a younger version of himself. But I have plenty of friends who are happy taking a fairly laid-back attitude towards life. They earn enough to have a roof over their heads, plus a bit more. They'll never be Einstein. And they don't really care. Are they necessarily wrong? So - if you have lots of free time, you don't necessarily have to put it into worthwhile pursuits. Hang out while you still can. Do crosswords. Slack off. Some people really, really like slacking off, for hours on end. That's OK. Not everyone wants to become a dot-com millionaire. Explore your inner slacker as well as your inner Einstein. There'll be plenty of time to get angst about how much you're achieving later on.

Great Advice for Most High School Students (3, Insightful)

XBruticusX (735258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432395)

"The best plan, I think, is to step onto an orthogonal vector."

If a high school student actually understands that statement it's pretty doubtful that they need to read that piece or need much academic direction at all.

more sense about drugs and alcohol (1)

atarione (601740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432404)

I wish... I would have known that some people really do get addicted to teh drugs and alcohol.

I wish I would have been strong enough to say no to them and focus on more constructive things.

and I wish I could have warned my friend, not to drive home from that one party....... sorry I would have fucking told ya'll to chill if I had seen you trying to drive

Re:more sense about drugs and alcohol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432547)

+1 Scary

I wish (0, Offtopic)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432415)

I was a little bit taller
I wish I was a baller
I wish I knew a girl who looked good and I'd call her

one word.... (3, Funny)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432425)

Paul Graham has written down the things he wishes somebody had told him when he was in high school

How about Brevity?

(4324 words for chrissakes, and that excludes his footnotes!)

Very good article (1)

spawnofbill (757153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432427)

Amen to that. Since I was 7 I've been diagnosed with ADD, being such I have a hard time focusing on boring tasks, or those that I deem boring. So I find something that really drives me, something I really want to do. HOWEVER, this does not excuse an individual from not doing tasks they have to do. Another valid point he brings up is the education you can recieve at a prep school. It varies from school to school, but my boarding school spends on average $41,000 dollars per student, and the tuition for a boarder is $27,000. The average amount spent on a public high school student in Georgia? $700... I find it really annoying when people complain about having to pay taxes for public schools.

Re:Very good article (3, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432473)

But see, it's all about how those dollars are administered. In DC, the average amount spent per public school student is roughly $10,000 per year. That's a lot, and they have some of the worst performing students in the country. Horrible reading/writing/math skills, and a very high dropout rate. Point is, it's not about the money (though it certainly takes plenty to do it right), but people who see quality educations elsewhere being funded at, say, $5000 per student, have every right to complain about their taxes when twice that amount performs only half as well.

drink beer, smoke weed, and get laid (3, Insightful)

cheezus (95036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432428)

don't worry, you'll have plenty of adult life where you have to act like an adult. Waste your time now while you still can.

Are you friggin kidding? (1)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432434)

Wasting time was the best thing I ever did in high school!

No rent, no bills, no responsibilities. Work 20hours a week to pay for a junker car and just tool around and waste time. Those were the days! Now if I want to waste time it needs to be on a weekend or vacation day...

What? (0)

Nafeasonto (852036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432438)

To tell you the truth, College sucks as much as High school, nothing ever changes. Their will always be immature people, and stuck up pricks, and jerks. It is as simple as that.

The headline forgot one.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432446)

"Emminent computer scientist, author, painter, dot-com millionaire and windbag"

Seriously though, good article if maybe a little wordy. The one thing I wish I'd known when I was younger was when angry, keep your mouth shut. Mean and hurtful things you say to someone else can scar for life.

What I plan to tell my kids (4, Insightful)

madro (221107) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432447)

My wife and I talk about this a lot, because we were both smart and geeky in high school (she was also an athlete, though, so she had a much easier time of it).

Our primary advice to our kids will be: "It gets better."

High school will not be, and shouldn't be, "the best years of your life." People will be petty, people won't understand you. You've got to take it, and still treat other people with respect. (Even if you're smarter, you're not necessarily better -- if you're excluded, don't retreat to elitism.)

All that said, I'm not sure if "wasting time" is so bad. Young children should be encouraged to play freely, not subjected 100% to a rigorous schedule of pre-planned activities. Not sure how much that can or should carry over into teenage years.

Graham is advocating exploration of that which interests you -- in my mind, I should've been spending more time practicing social skills ... since in high school I was most interested in my female classmates.

"It Gets Better"? (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432555)

I don't know about that! The workplace, at times, seems to be a lot like high school. Pretty ladies/handsome men always get the promotions. Geeks will always be geeks. And don't ever associate with anyone outside of your sphere.

Girls.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432460)

Being somewhat asocial, boring quickly, and uncomfortable around the opposite sex, I spent a lot of time in high school figuring out how to steal/break things and play jokes on people (sometimes cruel). It took college, *and beer*, for me to finally realize that had I dated in high school, I would have probably gotten into a helluva lot less trouble, and ... oh year, might even have gotten some.

My comment relates to succeeding in life because I came very close to ending up with a criminal record - some of my friends did. Had I *discovered* girls earlier, this could have all been avoided.

So young geeks/nerds/tools - Talk to girls, ask them out, you have nothing to lose, but your virginity.

I wish I had wasted more time in High School (1)

merchant_x (165931) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432483)

I worked pretty hard throughout High School and College I always took a full class load of the most advanced subjects they would let me take. Meanwhile my friends were out partying and generally having a much better time than I. In the end after bustin ass through High School and college I really don't see what the purpose of any of it was. I could have skated by with average grades and still be making the same amount of money I make today. In fact after 12 years of being in the job market no even one employer has ever asked for me to even prove I went to college.

Not bad (1)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432503)

Not a bad speech. Certainly better than the platitudes I got.

I'd argue two points:
1) I think goals are just as important as options. It's like a dialogue, really - find a goal you want that also gives you options. Options are nice, but goals are a good way to focus and plot progress.

2) Graduation speeches and such are all well and good. This is a nice one. But I'd argue our culture and our school system need to change, not just the speeches. Guidance counsellors have proven useless for me and my friends and I'd say our culture discourages a lot of what he suggests here.

The part about having projects is something that I am very glad he said. I've always been making projects for myself since I can remember, from making lego structures to maintaining my web page. Some were stupid or ineffectual, but I always kept moving forward and always had something to do. Indeed among people I know, the ability to "make a project" seems to be a large definer of success. I've seen late bloomers who came into their own, and almost inevitably they had the same "do-a-project" approach, they just had to channel what they gained.

It's similar to an argument I've heard over parents forcing children to take art classes, sports, music classes, etc. - the kids, despite some regrets, at least get to develop a skill or ability and have some success. I personally prefer his gentle approach, but there's some similarities.

When I was young... (5, Funny)

stephend (1735) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432517)

Arthur: You know, it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.

Ford: Why, what did she tell you?

Arthur: I don't know, I didn't listen.

garcia dude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432531)

You [slashdot.org] again? When are you gonna get your ass outside dude?

Oh and can we please stop talking about regrets? I regret regretting the past, move on, it's over.

Complexity and the average high school student... (1)

joshamania (32599) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432535)

About 90% of my graduating class would be lost after the first few paragraphs...

Wasting time? (1)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432537)

Very insightful. I indeed wish I hadn't wasted time on writing stupid programs when I was a kid, but the problem is that at that time I wouldn't understand how I could possibly waste time learning predicate calculus and set theory to better understand relational algebra behind databases instead of foolishly trying to hack something in SQL despite my utter ignorance about its very fundamentals. I was young and stupid, now I understand it. But when I was young and stupid, I didn't want to be old and boring. Now I do, because I finally understand what is more important, but that very process of understanding is something that one needs to experience by oneself while growing up. I can write countless books about it post factum and explain how I should have been born adult when I was a child, but it would be at least quite pointless, would it not? Unless I was a dot-com yuppie millionaire, now then people would buy it.

Wasted worry. (1)

alpinist (96637) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432539)

No, I don't regret that so-called "wasted" time. That sense of having all the time in the world and feeling no real pressure to do much more than simply enjoy being alive and young and foolish is what makes my fondly remember those years. The moment you realize your lifetime is a finite resource is the moment you're really an adult.

Bullcrap in "article" (1)

hambonewilkins (739531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432542)

"Suppose you're a college freshman deciding whether to major in math or economics. Well, math will give you more options: you can go into almost any field from math. If you major in math it will be easy to get into grad school in economics, but if you major in economics it will be hard to get into grad school in math."

This is absolutely, 100% incorrect. He is assuming that a graduate economics program would take a math student without any prior economics training (false). In addition, in order to be an econ major, you often have to take advanced math courses (for me it was Calc 3 so that I could take Econometrics). This part of his speech pretty much ruined the rest of it for me.

BTW - I know a lot of slashdot are "hard scientists", so save your "social sciences suck" arguments for later.

Wish I'd known (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432565)

Wish I'd known that when people told me that I couldn't or shouldn't do things, that they were FUCKING RETARDS. Seriously. High-school is adolescent storage, nothing more.

I didn't learn a goddam thing in any of the high schools I went to -- didn't even learn how to roll a joint, fix a car, write a poem, measure the volume of a cone, program, take pictures, or even spell in high school. All of these things I taught myself, because they needed to be done (especially the joint part).

If I had graduated 6th grade, and went straight to college, I would have done quite well accademically.
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