I’m Dropping Out of College

I'm going there.

And I’m moving there.

Sorry Mom and Dad, I know you guys worked hard for me to achieve the American dream AKA buy a college diploma, slave away in a cubicle, and climb the social ladder. And I’m sorry I’m not smart enough to take a shortcut like Mark Zuckerburg. But I’m just not cut out for the banal routine that is the university life. I don’t care that I’m a year away from graduating; I quit. You see, I don’t plan to do anything with my degree anyway, so why continue donating thousands to the University of Michigan? Peace out, everyone, I’m quitting civilization.

According to Rousseau, civilization was the downfall of humanity.

But from the moment one man began to stand in need of the help of another; from the moment it appeared advantageous to any one man to have enough provisions for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became indispensable, and vast forests became smiling fields, which man had to water with the sweat of his brow, and where slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and grow up with the crops. ~ Discourse on Inequality

Therefore, I’m gonna do à la Christopher McCandless and disappear Into the Wild. But I don’t want to die alone and I like to shower and I hate mosquitoes, so I’ve made the necessary adjustments. Voilà my new life plan:

  1. Drop out of school. This might be the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Just stop showing up to classes. Ha!
  2. Pack necessary belongings into Sushin, my car. I don’t think I can live without a toothbrush. Oh, and my iPhone. Can I bring a laptop too?
  3. Pack boyfriend into car. Let’s pack his laptop too. And his toothbrush, please and thank you. How about some soap, too? Boys are nasty.
  4. Move to Switzerland. Wait…you can’t actually drive there. Oops. We’ll board a ship, Sushin and all.
  5. Become a farmer. Let’s farm rice! It makes such a pretty green. And tomatoes, onions, and kimchee cabbage. A chicken coop would be nice. Phineas can hunt wild boor.
  6. Restrict outside communication to snail mail. Except we’ll have internet. How else could I get my daily Gawker fix and Phineas slay enemies in League of Legends? But shhh, nobody will know.
  7. Adopt a grey horse, dog, cat, and baby. Hold on, babies don’t come in grey?
  8. Write a bestselling memoir about my life. Because we need an income. Did I mention that we’re paying someone else to grow our food?
  9. Get really, really sick of Switzerland. I give it a maximum 12 months.
  10. Move back to Ann Arbor, Michigan and resume studies. Rebecca Cao, Class of 2016.




13 thoughts on “I’m Dropping Out of College

  1. Rebecca,
    Assuming you are still alive, your mother having sent a secret Ninja hit squad to late abort her ungrateful daughter, and Phineas, too, whom I imagine she’ll blame for corrupting you both intellectually and physically, then I say…Bravo …go forth and study no more! Actually, you jest, but let me tell you a true story about a restless young redheaded kid from North Carolina. I went to college when I was 16, thereby rendering me both sober (too young to go to bars with classmates) and a virgin (too young legally to corrupt with earthly delights!).

    At age 18, I was only 35 units from graduating when it dawned on me that I did not want to finish breakfast, let alone college…so I dropped out. Oh, I kept sending letters home saying how devoted to my studies I was, but that only bought me a six month head-start.

    I took a job in a restaurant as a bus-boy (1978). With my 48 dollars a week take-home pay, I drew heavily upon my math expertise and made sure I spent 1/2 on living essentials and the other on booze. But I worked hard..and withing four months, I was promoted to assistant waiter. My income tripled, as did my drinking…but I still worked harder.
    At 19 I became a waiter and three months later, an assistant restaurant manager.

    One of my regular customers was a hotel manager (Hyatt, Los Angeles) He scalped me away and made me his assistant Food and Beverage Director at the hotel. Big pay bump…and finally made more than I could possibly blow on booze. So I did the only thing sensible to remedy the situation. I spent half of half of my income on pot. Which made me very hungry, so I spent less on booze and more on food.

    One year later, my boss died of a heart attack (at work! he was always teaching me something, even in death), so I was promoted to his job (20 years old now) as F&B director of a 500 room hotel. My salary sky-rocketed. In less than two years, I went from 48 doillars a week to an annual salary, with stock and benefits, of $120,000.00.

    A hotel guest named Billy Joel (yes, that Billy Joel) asked me once to “entertain his wife and kids” while he did his concert in Los Angeles for a week. I took them to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, the beach, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week long. At the end of the week, Mr. Joel gave me a $15,000 tip and a job offer to manage his household in Cape Cod for $200,000 a year. While I was on track to become the youngest hotel manager for Hyatt at age 24, I quit and took the celebrity gig.

    One year later, while purchasing my first home in New York (now 23 1/2), the manager of my bank asked me if I wanted a job with Wells Fargo. I did not have any educational qualifications, but he knew Billy Joel and took his word (my first big recommendation) and hired me to help set up and run his Customer Satisfaction Team for the East Coast. He went on to become the President of Wells Fargo and took me with him to the executive offices of Wells Fargo. I became the youngest VP of the bank at age 26 (my income now nearly $500,000/yr. I was asked to represent the employees as a Board member and joined the board at age 27.

    A colleague of his named Timothy Geitner, whom we had lunch with several times a year, was nominated by then president Clinton to become undersecretary of the treasury, and he took me with him as his personal executive consultant. At age 30, he went to work on a City Development Board in Chicago headed up by a junior senator named Barrack Obama.

    He recommended me to Mr. Obama to head up his campaign office efforts for a presidential run in 2008. I was on track, but finally, my educational dropout became a liability and I was turned down for the position. But I was considered. Too, bad though, because now I was struck with all my previous successes, a six figure income, and two parents who couldn’t be prouder, even though they swore an oath to kill me when they found out I dropped out.

    So you go girl. Jump into this arena we call life. Give it your best shot and don’t hold back. Show the world what you’ve got. And remember, if all else fails, the U of Michigan will take anybody back.

    • Jesus Christ Dennis, what you should really be writing is a memoir! I’d be the first in line to buy it. I don’t know if my life will bring me as many adventures as yours has, but I’ll definitely give it my best shot. Unfortunately, I feel that society has become more and more narrow-minded, in that you need a college diploma to do anything these days. I wish talent and dedication mattered more than a silly piece of paper, but for now I’ll keep going to class.

      Anyway, I’m so curious…what are you up to these days? And thanks for sharing your story — what a life you’ve had!

      • Rebecca…what am I doing these days. I am traveling with my wife, graphic designer, Kerri McHale (www.studioal.com) across country in a 2008 Airstream International CCD, visiting all 50 states, while writing two books; one, a tome of poetry I have been working on for years and which was just accepted for publication by Indiana University’s publishing label. The other is…you got it..a memoir. Clever girl.
        You can follow my travels at: http://www.captains-log. I am happy to hear you are braving it out for Big Blue. I never doubted you would. Nice writing, though!

  2. Rousseau made me want to drop out of college as well when I first read his work last year. I almost did, but I was too chicken. Good luck!

  3. You almost, for a flickering second, had me fooled, when I wished you wouldn’t do that to your loved ones. But then you sounded so funny, so light-hearted that it was impossible for me to take you seriously. Good.

  4. Pingback: CP: Better Than Tabula Rasa | Rebecca Cao

  5. I guess it’s a writer thing to go through this crisis. There was a time when I wanted to say “Screw it all! I don’t need a degree to write.”

    Then I thought about telling my mom.

    I graduated and then went to grad school to compensate for my evil thoughts.

    • Haha it’s true that you don’t need a degree to write, but I feel like these days writers need a degree to make a living at their day job…that’s what’s keeping me in school. And, of course, my mom. 😉

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