I’ve been applying to transfer into a few universities lately, so I had to write an essay for these applications. The following is the essay I have been sending with these applications.
After I was hit by the reality of a disappointing high school grade point average, I sought to do better in university. Up until this point, I have succeeded in that goal by keeping a steady 3.7 university grade point average. This improvement from my high school GPA should be evidence of an improvement trend. Lately however, I have been questioning the motivation to go to university or even get a degree. Is a degree necessary to accomplish success in life? How is success, even defined? These thoughts have always been present in the recesses of my mind, but they were only recently pushed to the forefront. The catalyst of these questions was my exposure to the business startup culture. The location of this cultural shift can arguably be Silicon Valley in California. Silicon Valley is a place where an idea and execution is enough to start a business and a company. Somewhere it would be not surprising for someone from Stanford or any other university in the area, to go off to launch a startup. The common figures of this movement are Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Each founder dropped out of university to start something. People call these famous founders statistical outliers or lucky, but this does not dissuade me from considering the idea of dropping out of university.
I am the first generation to attend university within the United States. My parents grew up and attended university in the Philippines before moving to the States. My father received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and my mother received a degree to become a Doctor of Optometry. Years after graduating, my father joined the US Air Force. He now works as an information technology technician. My mother initially started her own optometry practice in the Philippines and later in the states. Circumstances changed when she found an opportunity to sell cars on the side. This side business quickly became more profitable, and she now owns a successful car dealership. Managing a car dealership may be a great deal of work, but she did not stop finding more business opportunities where she could. At the same time, she started to work on creating leads for local real estate companies. If the leads rented from the company, my mom would receive a commission. She also started a restaurant and worked as the cook to bring Filipino cooking to the local area. From my point of view, both my parents graduated with a degree but no longer need that degree to sustain their present lifestyles. My mom’s success is more amazing considering the challenges of being in a foreign country with no formal background in business. My family environment further deepens my consideration to drop out of university.
These business success stories lead me to consider what I am capable to do now. Now that I realize a disconnect between business success and a university education. When I am interested in a particular subject, I tend to fixate on the subject. My fixation grows in the form of reading and learning as much as I can. When I became interested in starting a startup, it was no different. I started to read known books on business. I listened to the online audio podcasts from successful entrepreneurs. Eventually, a common saying soon arose from these resources, “There are many good ideas, but these good ideas lack execution.” The first time I heard this was from a professor who had background working in business. I was telling her of a business idea, when she told me this same saying. I felt as if she slapped me in the face. I thought she was rudely disregarding the idea that I thought was so great. It took me a few days to calm down and realize that her message was true. Ideas not put to action, are just ideas.
From that point on, I decided to reduce the amount of books and podcasts I was reading and listening to, and take action. So I took a year off to see what I could accomplish.
I didn’t have a technical background, so I looked into hiring a freelancer. The rates for a freelancer in the United States were way too high for me to afford, so I started to look for alternatives. My mom suggested the alternative I eventually chose. She suggested that I go back to the Philippines and find a freelancer willing to make the web app I wanted for cheap. This seemed like a good alternative, so I found a freelancer online who lived in the Philippines. I wasn’t sure about having the whole transaction based solely online, so I flew to the Philippines to meet with this freelancer. Once I arrived to meet with this freelancer, he told me he was unable to work on my project. He recommended a higher priced web development company he knew instead. Unable to afford the company, I was left in the Philippines without a real purpose.
I was a little distraught, but I made the decision to just learn to program and make it myself. Simpler said than done. With unfound confidence and motivation, I fixated on finding, reading, and practicing programming on my own through online resources. I am learning more each day to build on whatever idea I have. After going back home to Japan, I was fortunate to find and start a design internship at a startup back in Tokyo. After working closely with the startup founder, I learned that I liked working with other like-minded people. More specifically people building useful things for other people.
This is the biggest reason I am looking to re-enter university. I would like to move to a university that has like-minded people who are challenging themselves to build for others. Although I have taught myself to program, I intend to major in business. Given my mom’s businesses had surrounded me the majority of my life, I cannot see myself not majoring in business in university. Also with the world’s economy increasingly relying on technology, more people in business should have a deeper understanding of technology and its composition.