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I’m a big fan of the idea of skipping college. Most kids don’t need to go. You don’t need to write ten-page papers on pedantic topics. And you don’t need to get grades and a transcript in order to be a lifelong learner.

Skipping college makes sense for a lot of kids, but you need to plan what you’ll do instead. You can change the plan—most people end up changing their plans because there are no fail-safe plans. Just make the best plan for right now.

Skipping college works best if you’re fast. You can get four years of work onto your resume while other people are in school. That’s important to do because you don’t want to be the same age as college graduates competing as a non-graduate. The higher up you are from entry-level by the time you are 21, the easier it’ll be to compete with college graduates.

Get brand name companies on your resume. Companies will become your pedigree in place of a college name. And the duration that you stay at the company will determine if it looks like you’re treating this as a real job (1-year duration minimum) or a frivolous, kid project (short summer stint).

Set very clear goals. Where are you headed? Then work backward. For example, one goal you could have is that to be in a mid-level job at a good company by age 21. That way you are done competing with college kids by the time your peers graduate.

So then you work backward.

At age 21 need to be promoted to a mid-level job at good company
At age 20 need to be at an entry-level job at good company
At age 19 need to be at a job that will get you to a good company
At age 18 need to complete learning the code you need to launch this plan

Pick a good code camp. The best coding boot camp will have a reputation that will ensure you get a job when you complete the training. Also, keep in mind that the name of the boot camp will be at the bottom of your resume for a while, in the education section.

Pick the location carefully. The city where you attend camp will be the city where you build your network. When it comes to jobs, most people move to a big city to start their career so they have lots of opportunities. Smaller cities are good for keeping family expenses low, but not as good for trying out a lot of different types of jobs early in your career.

Pay heed. Boeing reports that some of the engineers working on their crappy planes that crashed three times were making $9/hr. This means that engineering is slipping into the abyss of jobs that previously paid a lot and now do not. So be aware that no plan is safe, and you always need to be thinking ahead to what you’ll do when your job skills are outdated.

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