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Uniquely Bright: Experiences and Tips? 1309

An anonymous reader writes: "I would like to hear from fellow /.ers that consider themselves unusually but non-traditionally 'bright' and how you have dealt with it. What are you doing now? What did you do for education? How is your life now? I'm on the verge of entering college, never having liked school much yet always in love with learning. I would like some tips, suggestions, and experience in living with an extra degree of intensity, depth, and general intelligence. I love learning, yet I never have found school enjoyable. I'm incredibly intense and concentrated, yet I often become bored of specific projects in a few months. It's not anything diagnosable (I've looked into it) but more an inherent trait. Academically, I have managed to be alright, but nothing spectacular. Lots of people I meet think I should have a 4.0 easy, but I'm pretty far from it. My interests are broad, from computers (linux/os x/php/mysql/etc) to photography to cookery, I'm creative and technical. Friends and others recognize my strength in these areas. I can't stand being completely technical alone, but I love it in moderation. My attention span is practically unlimited when I am interested in a topic, and I get intensely interested in it. I want to hear from people who share some or all of these traits. I'm just coming up on entering college, so most of my life is ahead of me. I'd like to hear about everything from your education to your career to things you wish you had done differently!" Sounds like an INTP to me.
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Uniquely Bright: Experiences and Tips?

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  • Advice (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpaceCadetTrav ( 641261 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:41PM (#9409969) Homepage
    Drop out and start an Internet company. I hear that's the way to go these days.
    • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tha_mink ( 518151 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:51PM (#9410048)
      The real thing you need to do is get over yourself. You're not special. There's lots of people in this world that are just as smart as you. Once you get over yourself, the world is your oyster. "unusually but non-traditionally 'bright' "...jesus...Kill me. Get over yourself.
      • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ldspartan ( 14035 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:24PM (#9410312) Homepage

        Not so much that exactly, but don't think you're a fucking genius because you're the smartest kid in your highschool. It takes a lot to be succesful, intelligence alone won't do it. I'm sure most of know (or are) plenty of very smart people who are not effective in the real world because they can't communicate effectively.

        College is a totally different story, particularly if you're going to a good one. You'll meet people there who are intelligent, motivated, and personable.

        Also, if "non-traditionally bright" is a cop-out for not working hard enough to fulfilly your potential, well, good fucking luck. If you find your undergraduate degree easy (as I have to a large extent), you probably should have gotten into a better college. If you're in one of the best colleges for your degree, you should probably be getting another degree. If all those things are true, get a graduate degree.

        • No, I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

          by BlightThePower ( 663950 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:48PM (#9410467)
          If you're in one of the best colleges for your degree, you should probably be getting another degree. If all those things are true, get a graduate degree.

          This is possibly the worst possible motivation for getting a graduate degree (I should add I'm an academic myself so I have an idea of what I am talking about). The ONLY reason to get a PhD these days is for love of the subject. I couldn't bear the idea of not being involved in research in my field and my colleagues all felt the same. You will never make up the money you lose doing it, and in the end its not like people fall at my feet in worship everytime I use my title. Its a long, hard slog usually, intelligence is not the main factor in getting through anyway: its a work ethic and a bit of grit.

          You can get just as much intellectual stimulation in industry if you land the right post. And get paid handsomely for doing it. The graduate degree is only for those who truly want it, we quite often see those who think of it as an intellectual penis-extending exercise fall by the wayside. And rightly so to be honest.

      • Re:Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:54PM (#9410498) Homepage
        The real thing you need to do is get over yourself. You're not special. There's lots of people in this world that are just as smart as you. Once you get over yourself, the world is your oyster. "unusually but non-traditionally 'bright' "...jesus...Kill me. Get over yourself.

        Smart is not always what succeeds. There are plenty of stupid people that get far. Take Dufus in the Whitehouse for example. Few people would claim that he is an original thinker or highly knowledgable. On the other hand there are people with blistering high IQs and degrees in Nuclear Physics who can't find a job better than part time computer class instructor.

        Being intelligent does not count for very much, not unless you are actually prepared to do some work and learn something that is useful. Its like having the worlds fastest computer and no software.

        The worst thing that can happen is if you get the idea that you are so smart you don't need to bother knowing anything. There are plenty of people like that in the world. And even if by luck or family connections you happen to get a great job, you are even worse off because that attitude usually leads to failure.

        That said, there is plenty of stuff that schools teach that is entirely useless. I never saw the point of learning French, the effort required was vastly disproportionate to the benefit, and I have lived in the country for two years. But it is highly unlikely that you are 'differently smart' if you are getting straight Ds and Es in all your courses.

        If you really are gifted you don't have to ask slashdot for career advice, you know what you are best at. I have always excelled at tasks that require analytical reasoning and interpretation of data. Subjects that require rote memorization have rarely interested me. I can write a pretty good history essay with access to reference materials, but remembering the date of the Tolpuddle Martyrs is utterly pointless as far as I am concerned.

        If all you are good at is memorization then you are definitely having to do a lot of work to get anywhere.

        You still have to do work if you are good at analysis, but it is more likely that it won't appear to be work. I tend to think I am pretty lazy, I use the fact that ideas seem to come to me effortlessly to avoid having to work as hard as I should. But most people arround me think I am a workaholic who never stops because I am always doing stuff - the stuff that does not appear to me to be work.

        The brain is like any other muscle, you have to exercise it to keep it fit. I may not spend all my time thinking on work, but I spend almost all my time thinking about some problem.

        • Re:Advice (Score:5, Informative)

          by jarich ( 733129 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:00PM (#9410543) Homepage Journal
          Smart is not always what succeeds.

          Exactly. Smart is important but discipline more so. If you can't finish something, you'll never succeed at anything. And this "stick-to-it-ness" is what you'll learn in college (if you can finish it).

          Why did I have to take 3 semesters of calculus, then 2 semesters of calc based stats, etc? Was it because all computer science folks need to know how to calculate volume under a curve?

          No. It is to teach you how to think, how to stick with something and to finish it.

          If you are as smart as you think you are, add discipline and the world is your oyster.

          • TENACITY! (Score:5, Funny)

            by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @01:55AM (#9411474) Homepage
            this "stick-to-it-ness"...

            TENACITY! It's called tenacity! I swear, the next grade-school teacher who I hear use the word "stick-to-it-ive-ness" is getting a swift and painful English lesson.

            Seriously! It's a syllable shorter! Let's do a comparison! (In list form, because Slashdot's support for preformatted text is bad.)
            1. Is it a real word?
              • Tenacity: Yes, and a good one as well!
              • Sticktoitiveness: No, and it never will be.
            2. How many syllables does it have?
              • Tenacity: Four. Rolls right off the tongue.
              • Sticktoitiveness: Five. It's an ungainly hippo-in-a-tutu of a word.
            3. Does it make you sound like a Special Ed teacher when you use it?
              • Tenacity: Not in the least.
              • Sticktoitiveness: Yes, if not straight-up retarded.

            Stamp out sticktoitiveness wherever you see it. It's the red-headed stepchild of the English language. ...

            This has gotten really, really offtopic. I have a pet peeve; this was a point onto which I could latch. I don't really have an issue with you, just with the word.

            --grendel drago
      • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Epistax ( 544591 ) <epistax@gmai l . com> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:56PM (#9410513) Journal
        That's a little rude. Accurate, but a little rude.
        Here's a more correct message:

        There are people who by their upbringing (religion, social forces, parents) are predisposed in any of many ways that limits their own abilities significantly. You are not one of them. Anything you do, you will enjoy and will be good at. Note that I did not say great, I said good. Great takes work. So you have a few choices:
        Do anything you want, enjoy it, and live off it.
        Work very hard suffering mentally at first, and eventually have big payoffs (psychologically and likely financially).
        Work very hard suffering mentally the whole way. Rewards come but you push them away because they just interfere with what's important.
        Resign yourself to become just a mindless peon.

        Most people are dead long before they've died. They might marry, have children, even occasionally read a book but they are acting on external stimuli alone and are, to be blunt, nothing more than walking sacks of chemicals doing everything they should do. They've lost the spark entirely.

        I am just as guilty as the next person in causing my own undoing. I do take a little from the fact that I at least acknowledge it, and try to fight it. Who knows, even I may not end up useless after all.
      • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:07PM (#9410582) Homepage
        There's lots of people in this world that are just as smart as you.

        The thing that separates intelligence and genius is a lot of disciplined, tiring, rigorous work. And by tiring, I mean staying at the lab for days straight while your roommate calls the cops thinking you have been nabbed. The trap I see many "unusually bright" people fall into is that because everything came easily to them in High School, they never learned to really work at things. But really working at things is how you get somewhere in life... really working at things is how you separate the unusually bright and kind of good from the unusually bright who dedicates their life in a sheer bloody minded pursuit. Simply being brighter and better than most of the people in your High School isn't even enough to avoid crappy jobs... a friend of mine memorized my set of Encyclopedia Britannicas in the span of two weeks, yet jumps from crappy retail job to crappy retail job because he just doesn't "enjoy" doing anything. In reality, he's not dedicated enough to get beyond crappy jobs and into something that he would like doing.

        We all say that intelligence is the highest achievement, but that's not entirely true. Intelligence is distinct from knowledge, which is distinct from dedication. All three are necessary for success.

        If you want my advice, do a trial by fire. Do something REALLY hard and unpleasant, like outward bound [outwardbound.com], the AIDS ride across Alaska [inter.net], or spend a summer of thankless backbreaking toil on an Alaskan fishing boat. Ultimately, you will be glad you did.

      • Re:Advice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:08PM (#9410588)
        My first bit of advice is to ignore nearly every response to your question, particularly the ones that contain the words "get over yourself." People here aren't necessarily very bright, but are often a bit full of themselves themselves, as you can see by the fact that most of them don't have the cognitive ability to comprehend your concerns or questions and simply think you're "putting on airs."

        However, if you are rather bright you should realize that you just asked for a book length dissertation on the subject, which is entirely unreasonable for a forum of this sort.

        Find yourself a home schooling support group in your area and through them an older person who's been through it and talk to them for few hours. You need an honest to God, flesh and bone mentor. You're in the wrong place.

        • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

          by troc ( 3606 ) <troc@noSpaM.mac.com> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:02AM (#9412752) Homepage Journal
          Erm, 'ello. I'm a bit fick aledgedlee from wot you is sayin' abowt cognitiv'bilitee. Maybe I'l full of myself but it taysts liek a cheze towsti. Yum. Innit.

          Where was I. Slashdot has far more "up themselves" teenaged geeky nerds than you will get anywhere outside a Maths and Star Trek convention. Those people will, as is natural at 16 (and on to 15 or so) believe they are the dogs bollocks and that they are better than everyone else.

          However if you read the more mature, legible, sensible, well-thought-out, adult posts - which are probably from those of us who have "been there, done that" as it were, you'll realise that most of us (and I mean the human race in general) feel alienated, differently clever (ooh, so politically correct) or whatever at some point in our lives.

          For example at school I felt "superior" to most people around me. As an undergrad I realised what a twat I have been at school and that some people might actually be almost as intelligent as me (obvioujsly not quite as intelligent as their exam results were better :). When researching my masters I could look back and see what an immature person I had been as an undergrad and how my attitude towards people I felt were slower than me, or generally less intelligent (i.e. everyone) was a load of bullshit. I still harboured a secret knowledge that I was better than all the other people on the course.

          Then it came to my PhD - I was 25, I had travelled the world, lived away from home since I was 18 and I was much more secure and mature. I could look back on even my masters and see how conceited I was at 22! I was surrounded by people of the same intelligence as me - but in differen ways - which is why we were studying different topics! I felt properly grown-up at last and was over all the stupid angst and self-righteous feelings as before.

          Now I'm over 30 and I can look back and see that even at 25 I had a lot of growing left to do. I am sure that at 40 I will feel the same way .....

          To summarise. get over it :) Grow up. It might take 20 years but the journey is worth it.

      • Good Luck Buddy... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jcenters ( 570494 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:30PM (#9410725) Homepage
        Hey, I've been there, I'm there, I know where you're at, so please, allow me to retort.

        First thing you should know is that there is no point to life. Wanna know the difference between Ronald Reagan and the crackhead on 8th avenue? They're both worm food right now.

        So, don't worry about crap like "success" that others foist upon you. What is success? It's whatever you say it is, nothing else. The only success is doing what you like until you too become worm food.

        Rule two: You're not going to change the world. There's too many people that have figured out how to profit from our wicked ways to let some little smart-ass cocksucker like you change that. If your goal in life is to make a lot of money, figure out how to make the heartless crooks rich and you'll be quite comfortable. Oh, and make lots of connections, because that's where the big money comes from: Connections and pure luck.

        You are a unique and beautiful snowflake. Snowflake number #3857493 to be exact.

        There are two camps in this world, the camp that says "Shut the fuck up, stop whining, eat your boss's shit on toast, put your nose to the grindstone and work yourself to death, and the camp that says "Be yourself. Let your natural talents grow. Do what you enjoy doing."

        Sorry kid. The world sucks. Everyone's out for number one and they don't give a fuck about you unless they get something good in return; no matter if it's your boss, your wife, your parents, or your kids. You're the same way, so you might as well accept it.

        And the point of my post? There is none, just like there's no point in life. Life is like an old school video game: There's no real "finish," just see how many points you can rack up until you die. Figure out your own scoring system and rack up them points boy.

      • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by deranged unix nut ( 20524 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:37PM (#9410773) Homepage
        I came to two important realizations a couple years ago.

        First, people who are intensely brilliant in one or more areas are usually intensely stupid in other areas.

        Second, brilliance does not count for anything if you don't have the discipline to stick to the task.

        You may be bright in computers and normally insightful in many technical areas, but that frequently means that you are stupid about human nature, politics, music, religion, or some other basic area. I have a co-worker who is brilliant with a debugger, but who is constantly afraid that he will be fired because he can't communicate well with his manager.

        One of my friends in college had amazing intuition. He skipped 90% of the classes one semester and consistently got A's or B's on the exams. However, when he got a job, he stopped showing up for work for two weeks, was nearly fired, and pulled the same stunt again a month later and was fired. As for myself, I would be making 10% to 15% more right now, in my 4 year old post-college career, than I currently am if I would have had the discipline to work on what I was supposed to be doing rather than what I felt like doing.

        Before you get the attitude that you are so smart, ask yourself who you are comparing yourself with. I grew up in Southern Idaho, in a town of 5000 people where I would guess that less than 1/20th of the population had a bachelors degree or better. Now I live in Seattle where most of the population has a college degree and I work for a company that employs more than twice the number of people in the county that I grew up in. In Idaho, I got the same comments that you claim to get, and in Seattle I am just one of thousands.

        Life is in constant flux. Tomorrow, psychology may be the hot field and software may be the next "automotive industry", don't choose a field because of the pay.

        Today, a college degree is frequently a prereq for consideration for any desirable job. I wouldn't skip college, mostly because of all of the extras that you learn. Life in the dorms or in a fraternity and make friends.

        Don't forget about finding someone to spend your life with, at some point computers won't mean all that much and you will want to know how to talk to someone that you are attracted to.

        If you are passionate about something and make it your job, make a point to develop a hobby or else you will burn out. Computers have been my obsession for 15+ years and software has been my carrer for the last 4 and now I play with my container garden and listen to music instead of sitting on the computer when I come home.

        Aside from that, figure out what you want to do and go do it. Life is to short to be doing something you hate. ....Most of all, take all of this with $.02....it is your life, choose for yourself.
        • Re:Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mycroft_VIII ( 572950 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @05:00AM (#9411985) Journal
          I hate to burst your bubble, but #1 is only true with idiot savants and a few other cases. You've bought into a stereotype. And an easy one to buy into as most want to believe in some sort of cosmic fairness. The other reason is a lot of smart people simply don't place priorities the same way as others and get considered clueless for not playing keep up with the Joneses or choose a happy life instead of an ambitious one.

      • Re:Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the_ed_dawg ( 596318 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @12:54AM (#9411223) Journal
        The real thing you need to do is get over yourself. You're not special. There's lots of people in this world that are just as smart as you.
        I'm normally a very encouraging person, but I have to agree with the parent here. This leads into something my mother would always say, "There's a difference between being smart and wise." I know a guy who was a supposed genius. He entered college on a full scholarship despite getting a 2.0 GPA in high school. He was way to smart for his electrical engineering classes, so he never went and stayed up late doing stupid things like riding the glass elevator at the Hilton and strolling around Wal-Mart looking for blue lamps. In the end, he lost his scholarship after a single semester (failing to keep a 2.0) and joined the Air Force, where I have heard he became a real screw-up.

        The first question everyone asked was, "He was so smart, so why didn't he succeed?" The answer is so obvious that few people were willing to see it. He wasn't wise enough to know that he wasn't as smart as he thought he was. The second reason is that very few people give a damn about how smart you are. You will be judged based upon what you complete, and if your attention span is limited only to what you find interesting, you are destined for failure. Your boss will ask you to do something that is not interesting to you because it needs to be done. If you make a habit of (a) saying "no" or (b) not doing it with the effort required for successful completion, you can complain to the people standing next to you at the unemployment office.

        Reiterating what many others have said, stop whining and prove your worth. I'd recommend college because I know very few employers who will even consider hiring people without college degrees for anything less than factory assembly or janitorial staff. Why? College doesn't prove that you're smart because lots of stupid people graduate each year. College shows that you can dedicate yourself to a long-term goal of accumulating a functional knowledge of a discipline and succeed at an acceptable level. If you aren't willing to do that, be prepared for heartbreak, as most companies are not willing to take a chance with you, however promising you claim to be.

      • Re:Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @01:30AM (#9411373)
        The real thing you need to do is get over yourself. You're not special. There's lots of people in this world that are just as smart as you. Once you get over yourself, the world is your oyster. "unusually but non-traditionally 'bright' "...jesus...Kill me. Get over yourself.

        I'd mod you up if I could, but you're already at +5.

        Something that's always annoyed me about geeks (the computer kind) is how much crap they'll spew forth about being special, brighter, smarter. These are people who can work well in a few areas, generally a little academic, and often loners. Go within a few degrees of that description and you have most geeks, most of the slashdot crowd.

        Now, not to take away from that - it is a good thing to have capabilities, but so often I see this same type expect that by virtue of that unique set of talents they are above many others. That's so many levels of bullshit. I've known carpenters who can't turn a computer on and barely read who can push out some amazing work from nothing but 3 tools and a couple of boards. Gardeners who can build phenomenal areas with a serenity and comfort matched by nothing else. Musicians who would be lucky to see ten feet in front of them for being lost in their own world, but who can pick up a single instrument and play to melt your heart.

        We're nothing special. I'm a geek myself, and that's my specific talent but I don't in any way think that makes me especially bright, or uniquely so in any way other than being a unique individual.

        And we all have that.
    • by metacosm ( 45796 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:28PM (#9410338)
      Article: "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" [apa.org]

      abstract: "People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities."
      • by peteforsyth ( 730130 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:20PM (#9410663) Homepage Journal
        This is an interesting point, and I'm sure it applies to many people, but I have my doubts whether it applies to the original poster.

        Another scenario is this: you have superior analytical ability, and people are generally impressed when you weigh in on a topic you've put some consideration into.

        However, as much as people are appreciative of certain specific things you have to say, they are also put off by your social awkwardness, or by their inability to figure out where you're "coming from" or what your motivations are.

        In a work environment you pursue problems that interest you, and often come up with very clever solutions, but not on the timetable others would like. You are intrigued by an interesting problem, but you are largely unconcerned with the political or self-interested motives of those around you. So you are seen as somewhat valuable, but unpredictable, and therefore not a good "ally."

        So anything that requires you to cooperate closely with others or have their trust and confidence is pretty much a lost cause. You ARE smart, you DO have talent, but much of it is wasted because people you need are wary of you.

        I believe that is also a common scenario, and my sense of the poster would put him more in that category.
      • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) * <david@amazing.com> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:59PM (#9410935) Homepage
        I think a high percentage of the people here are pretty smart, because Slashdot really doesn't have much for people who are not. That being said, since we're debater-types, we tend to be a little mean-spirited. I apologise on behalf of my fellow Slashdot users for the insulting tone of many of these messages.

        The fellow who edited your comment mentioned that you were probably an INTP. This is true; so am I. This means that you are devoted to finding logical solutions to problems, and are dreamy and absent-minded if you're not involved in something that interests you. This would seem to fit your educational profile to a "T".

        About 1% of the population are INTPs. Since they're logical and like designing things, they tend to gravitate towards computing as a career, so you see a very high percentage of them here.

        Perhaps the most revealing thing about the Meyers-Briggs type indicator, which is where these strange four-letter acronyms come from, is that people are very different, and many of the differences can be described by a simple formula. I've found that even with very complex people, the Meyers-Briggs attributes make it easier to deal with them and understand at least parts of how their minds work.

        A good example of how people think is based on logic. When I was younger, I thought logic was the be-all and end-all, and that it was simply impossible to make sense of contradictions. Now I understand that there are people who don't care about contradition; they just care about getting work done and if this means doing things that are not strictly logical, well, that's what will be done and that's what they need. This is very important to understand when programming systems such as reports which may have seemingly contradictory attributes. A pure INTP would simply say its not possible to do them. An INTP with some seasoning and social understanding will try very hard to untangle the contradictions and find a solution that works.

        Many times the best type of person for you is someone very different from you. People who use feelings to make decisions, for example, are capable of deep love and can make wonderful relationships. People who are strictly logical wind up looking cold and characterless, both to that type of person and to each other. So if you check out the Meyers-Briggs and use it to classify people, don't forget the feelers. They may bring some much-needed passion into your life.

        Now, it's worth noting that types are not the be-all and end-all. They don't describe everything about a person. I have dated a couple of INFJs, and they've always been special to me. It's clear to me that I have a real affinity to that type of person. But both of them were very different and distinct people, despite having similar basic personalities. The one I'm involved with now is a wonderful creative artist who has brought much joy into my life.

        I've used these four-letter acronyms so much I feel like i should explain the MBTI a little. Full knowledge of it takes whole books, but at the root, it's simple. There are four different attributes that define a personality in the MBTI:

        Introvert/Extrovert (I/E). Are you energised by being with other people, or by being alone?

        iNtuitive/Sending (N/S). Do you concentrate on things as they are (sensing) or as they should be (Intuition)? Do you think of things as concrete facts (Sensing) or Principles (Ntuitive)? As an iNtuitive person, I get along much better with my fellow dreamers than with those bores who are sunk in drab reality.

        Thinking/Feeling (T/F). Do you make decisions based on objective fact (Thinking) or by the effects they have on others (Feeling)? Most people in the computer field are thinkers. A large percentage of women are feelers. This is why computing is such a male-dominated field, and why computer people tend not to have a good understanding of the opposite sex.

        Perceiving/Judging. Do you have a clean desk (Judging) or a messy desk (Perceiving)? Do you pre
        • by dbullock ( 32532 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @01:23AM (#9411348) Homepage
          Slashdot is not just for those who are pretty smart. It's primarily for those who want to bathe in the group meme, patting each other on the back repeating the same tired chestnuts.

          I read slashdot with my filters cranked up high only because they do a decent job collecting often interesting news. The comments with exception of a small few are usually pretty worthless retreads.

          Slashdot is for the most part, the ultimate pickmeup for the members of the herd when the individual members feel insecure, and need a pickmeup that's only a few clicks away.
      • by dtperik ( 695891 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @12:32AM (#9411133) Homepage
        Executive Summary: The more you know, the more you know you don't know.
  • Best Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:42PM (#9409978)
    Be prepared for your spirit to be crushed
    • Re:Best Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:36PM (#9410391) Homepage
      Be prepared for your spirit to be crushed

      After that happens you'll understand what you're really capable of, and you'd be surprised how little you know now. You'll start to understand what all the 'old people' on slashdot are waving their canes about too.

      If you're realisticly confident in your own abilities you have a chance of having them happen. Life is a lot about working and trying hard. You will have to work for everything you ever do, and if you dont work for it, you wont be able to appreciate it. If you're confident and you understand that you need to fail to get better, you have a chance of becoming what you think you can be.

      As a side note, its a pretty naive and narcissistic view to feel your all that and a bag of chips.

  • College (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:42PM (#9409981)
    I couldn't take college and dropped out because of my arrogance, similar as yours. As a result I make 12 an hour for computer repair. It's not the boom anymore, kid.
    • The path to ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AftanGustur ( 7715 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @03:41AM (#9411791) Homepage

      I couldn't take college and dropped out because of my arrogance, similar as yours.

      Maybe you were arrogant, maybe not. There are a lot of smart people who don't fit into the traditional understanding of "intelligent", "smart" and "clever".

      Robert Sternberg [yale.edu] is a psycologist whose life project is to show that there are multiple types of "intelligence" and current "intelligence tests" only measure one or two of them.

      When we look at the life of people such as Tomas Edison for example, who dropped out of school and was then fired from work for being "too clever" (he created a auto-responder to a morse signal that was supposed to verify if he was awake) it becomes obvious that the school system is not suited for educating some of the smartest people that have lived.

      I belive Sternberg is righ, I belive there are very intelligent young people who are being labelled "arrogant" and a lot of other negative names because they are not "connecting" with the "system" as they "should be".

      So what is the right way for such people ? Follow your instinct.. It will be hard, it will be difficult and there will be ups and downs but at least you have a chance to be *yourself*

  • Just know this: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uncle Gropey ( 542219 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:43PM (#9409986) Journal
    You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You may have to tough it up and take a path that is not enjoyable to you, as most of the rest of us normals have done, and save the soul-nourishing for the weekends and holidays.
    • Re:Just know this: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) *
      You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.

      Exactly the line I was thinking along. Good Fight Club reference, sir:

      This is your life [lyricsbox.com]

      You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake
      You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else
      We are all part of the same compost heap
      We are the all singing, all dancing, crap of the world

      You are not your bank account
      You are not the clothes you wear
      You are not the contents of your wallet
      You are not your bowel cancer
      You are not your grande latte
      You are

    • Re:Just know this: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BWJones ( 18351 ) *
      I would have to agree with this. It is also true of kids that are extraordinarily bright and very high achievers early on in life. The harsh reality that we all had to live up to was that you grow up and get a university degree, perhaps a doctorate (or two), and then you are just like everybody else you associate with, only you peaked earlier. I am still in my early thirties, but everybody around me is pretty much equally smart and accomplished. Some are happier than others so the secret is finding you
    • Re:Just know this: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're exactly right. I read his blurb, and I can immediately think of 20 people just like him.

      Everyone gets tired of projects after a couple of months. Very few people see projects through to the finish without getting burnt out on it.

      Lots of people have hobbies and interests. Most people who are in professional fields, and who are good at it enjoy learning as much as you, and have just as many hobbies.

      Now the important part: Everyone has to pay their dues.

      I think Engineering is the perfect thing f
    • by Lord Prox ( 521892 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:13PM (#9410233) Homepage
      You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake

      Well he could be... with a gas operated, semi-automatic, AR-10. Puimping round after round into ....

      errr. bad advice, bad advice...
  • My suggestion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:43PM (#9409988)
    Get over yourself. Only when you lose some of that cockiness will you begin to enjoy a meaningful and enriched life.
    • Re:My suggestion (Score:5, Insightful)

      Ha! EXACTLY what I was going to post.

      In all immodesty, I'm one of those who is a lot smarter than most people in certain ways. But who the hell cares? There is more to life than being able to analyze and synthesize facts. I was a lot happier once I got over myself and figured out that there was something to learn from everyone, yes, even the point-haired idiot who wouldn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, but is brilliant in social situations. Or is brilliant at fly-fishing. Or is a great father.

      In short, everyone has strengths. It's typical of the geek to think his strengths are more important than everyone else's strengths. The biggest thing a geek can realize is that their specific set of talents is pretty damn useless for happiness.

  • Is this guy serious? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moderator ( 189749 ) * on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:44PM (#9409994)
    Is this guy serious?

    It sounds to me like this guy is insecure about his intellegence and is falling back on Slashdot to boost his confidence. He describes himself as "uniquely bright," but admits he hasn't done anything spectacular to merit this title. Lots of people use Linux; that doesn't make them smart. The same thing goes with not doing well in high school. It doesn't mean they were too smart for their education, it just means they were different. Heartbreak :(

    I realize that a lot of geniuses didn't do well in high school, but then, they weren't labeled such until after they did something to prove themselves. I could label myself as a champion bodybuilder because I go to the gym everyday, but the truth is I'm only benching 225. The same principle applies: you can't call yourself something unless you can back it up.

    You're going to college and you have the rest of your life ahead of you. Find something you're good at, and stick with it. Just don't fall into the mentality that if you fail at something, it's because you're too "bright."
    • Thank You! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bobobobo ( 539853 )
      That was exactly what I was thinking when I read the article blurb. Typical, "I read slashdot and use a computer therefore I'm a unique genius."
    • by Templaris ( 754690 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:09PM (#9410196)
      "Lots of people use Linux; that doesn't make them smart."

      Wait, so because I still use Windows that doesnt mean I am stupid? ALRIGHT!

      (Hi-fives cardboard cut-out friend)
      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:51PM (#9410878) Homepage
        I know it was a joke, but because this comes up a lot:

        The contrapositive is your friend!

        Mr. Converse: Hello kids, I'm Mr. Converse. I'm a misleading fallacy of logic. You may have seen me before, while you were taunting your best friend for being fat. While it is true that if you eat like a snooty porker you will become fat, it is not logically true that if you are fat you had necessarily eaten like a snooty porker. Maybe your friend has a glandular condition, a natural affinity for a higher weight plane, or maybe having a friend like you has made his hypertension medically significant. Jerk.

        Ms. Inverse: Hello you little kids, I'm Ms. Inverse. I put the word "not" in front of both halves of a logical statement, to come up with something that looks right but isn't true. Let me give you an example... White people are good, therefore black people are bad. Isn't that easy? Now you don't have to read either Mein Kampf or the Bible.

        The ContraPositive: Hello Kids! I'm the contrapositive! I'm not the inverse, and I'm not the converse, I'm both! And unlike inverse and converse, I'm true! Yay! You know how if daddy sleeps with that secretary bitch again mommy will leave him, like mommy promised during the last session? Well, if mommy hasn't left yet then daddy hasn't slept with his secretary again. It's 100% true! Daddy must have done something else to make mommy cry. I wonder how mommy got those bruises?

        Remember: Only the Contrapositive is your real friend. Mr Inverse and Ms Converse are just out to touch you in those special places.

  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:45PM (#9410005) Homepage Journal
    I found i really had to try and commit myself at university, otherwise i'd find myself with a final exam the next day writing some random perl code to catalog my music collection.

    If you can channel your energy and focus on the not-so-interesting parts then you should do pretty well.

    Once you're in the real world it's a bit different, but hopefully you can find a work environment that suits you.
  • discipline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:48PM (#9410021)
    You will have to focus and refine your talents to get anywhere. The ability to work really hard for a short time when you happen to feel like it won't help you any. Otherwise you will feel cheated when those without your "raw ability" whiz by you in life.
  • College Life (Score:4, Informative)

    by Laivincolmo ( 778355 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:48PM (#9410022)
    Unfortunately in today's business setting, some sort of official training is neccesary. Even if you have spent 10 years of your life working with computers every day, you still unfortunately need a college degree. I'm planning on going to college in the fall and enduring the classes while also learning through experience. I think it was Herman Hesse in Siddhartha who said something about it being impossible to be taught anything. The experience is everything...
  • by odenshaw ( 471011 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:48PM (#9410024)
    College is so you can show the employer that you can deal with a whole bunch of bullshit... stuff you didn't want to do and still did anyway.
    • employer that you can deal with a whole bunch of bullshit

      Because you're going to be dealing with bullshit for the rest of your life.

      Sad but true. Find a job that you can live with until retirement. Have interesting hobbies. Don't talk about them at work - work is supposed to be your hobby, and I don't mean that you admit to doing recreational programming. The Boss thinks he owns you 100%.
    • I hear this sentiment expressed far too often, and it discourages that so many people think this way. I submit to you that if your primary motivation for education is to obtain a higher salary or prove something to a prospective future employer, you've greatly undervalued that education. Pursuit of knowledge should be for YOU, not some future employer.

      Higher education represents a unique opportunity to engage with experts of all fields, to gain insight into a great diversity of disciplines and to discov

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:48PM (#9410025)
    Time to start doing acid.
  • College (Score:3, Informative)

    by moertle ( 140345 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:49PM (#9410028) Homepage
    I hope you are going to a school that offers a wide range of degrees. I always liked taking spare electives in non-technical classes. Also I would get into a good research program, usually this means paying your dues by volunteering your time until you prove yourself useful. I worked in 2 research centers and they offered enough diversity where I could change gears every couple of months. Also my current job has been a commercial spin-off of the research lab I was working in. So it can be pretty rewarding.
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:49PM (#9410030)
    ...and then do it.

    A lot of people (especially in here) are going to tell you "yeah, I'm the same...this is what you should do"
    "Shut your whiney cakehole. Go to school, get a job, and go to work."

    All bullshit.

    Sample many things over the next few years, find something you like to do, and then go do it. After that, all bets are off.
    If you can't find something you like to do, something that fits in you mindset at the moment...do something anyway! If it sucks...too bad. You still need to, at the very least, support yourself. Because I won't. And neither will the next guy. And your parents shouldn't have to.
  • by Gyan ( 6853 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:49PM (#9410036)

    Don't try too hard to beat or overtake the system. It frequently happens that the class/project/whatever is too slow and/or easy for you. Don't get distracted and procrastinate on something else. Societies and formal institutional systems don't give free reign or tolerate deviants too much unless someone in power recognizes your potential and empathizes. There will be a few aspects where you can do as you wish, but not on the whole. It's not very optimistic advice, but it's practical.
  • My experience... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bishr ( 262019 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:50PM (#9410043)
    My experience with this is limited, but that a lot of postgraduate education is not set up for your type; they're looking for people with more discipline, who will see projects through to the end and get published (and possibly make advancements in whatever field).

    Your type of intelligence frustrates many people because it's not helpful; to produce usable software or make advancements in practically any field, you need to focus on them for a long time; I'd say that most of the "obvious" or "easy" discoveries have been made, and much of the research out there is fine-tuning what we know.

    The best thing to do is to find a mentor, someone who has a similar mindset. You may find one at your institution, but you shouldn't rule out looking further. In order to do discover or create something important, you need to overcome this... Of course, lots of very effective managers and adminstrators are like this; expand your search for a mentor to maybe the field of business... And check your ego at the door. You may think you're incredibly bright, but just wait until you hit postgraduate education. I'm in medical school, and some of the people around me are exceedingly intelligent, and others are average joes like me. The higher you go, the more you realize you're not "uniquely" anything.
    • by Richard_L_James ( 714854 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:06PM (#9410176)
      I fully agree with you that he should learn to focus on one thing. Or to put it another way it is easier to normally go with the flow than to try to swim up river (well initially anyway). However I do NOT agree with this statement:

      I'd say that most of the "obvious" or "easy" discoveries have been made, and much of the research out there is fine-tuning what we know.

      There are still many obvious discovers stil to be made for the simple reason that so many people these days are busy working complex ideas that people have forgotten that very simple ideas often make a big difference, e.g. wheel, axe, chalk, paperclip.... Hmmm, paperclip maybe I should have left that one out ;-)

  • by Beowulf_Boy ( 239340 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:51PM (#9410047)
    I'm in the same situation,

    If I really enjoy a subject, I get very deep into it. Take for example Grand Prixs. I love my 96 Grand Prix, I'm a member of the National Grand Prix club, work on everything myself, and can resite stats and shit off the top of my head. But I don't want to do car, I don't want to be a mechanic, so that does me absolutly no good at all.

    I also tend to fade in and out of hobbies. About once a year I will really get into FPS games for about a month or two, bone back up on them, and be pretty damn good. Then I just stop, it quits interesting me.

    I just finished my first year of college. The only advice I can give is, just get through it, and once you have your degree, you can do anything you want. I originally had a major of Computer Engineering, but after becoming extremely frustrated with Electronics, I switched to game design, basically CS with some art tossed in. I really enjoyed electronics at first, I learned alot, and I did a few projects in my spare time. Then, I just stopped liking it. It left the realm of usefullness and became boring. I don't need to know how to bias transistor networks and stuff to do a few hobby electronics projects, and that was all I was really interested in to begin with.

    I'm sure my new degree will do the same thing, I'll go with the programming for a while, then it will become boring, and I no longer will enjoy the projects we are doing, they will become to mundane and useless.

    So, all I can say is struggle through it, and when you graduate, you will find what you want to do. I really want to be a sys admin. Its what I find interesting. A nice mix of hardware, software (but not alot of programming), and networking. Hopefully I can tought it through the next 3 years of school, and then find a job doing what I enjoy.
  • Justify Yourself (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CommunistTroll ( 544327 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:51PM (#9410058) Homepage
    Why should society recognise you? Why should we all say what a wonderful person you are?

    You are part of a ruling elite that sits around wondering "Why isn't my genius praised?" while brighter, better people than yourself suffer hunger, violence and deprevation

    You want me to take you seriously? Ditch the capitalistic darwinistic me-me-me anti-enlightenment bullshit and find something bigger than yourself to fight for.

    Even fundamentalist christians display more charity than you. Get a life. Join an aid organisation. Join your brothers and sisters in fighting for justice and equality.

    Recognize that the core reason why no-one cares for your unique talents is that under capitalism, you are only worth what you can sell those talents for. Got a talent for sport? Have millions. Got a talent for being nice to people? Sucker!

  • by suitti ( 447395 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:54PM (#9410074) Homepage
    I wanted an engineering degree. External discipline is a waste of time for me. Given something I'm interested in, I'm plenty self-motivated.

    For engineering, I went with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Mass. When I was there, it was strictly pass/fail, with failing grades dropped from the transcript. I understand that it's now A/B/C with failing grades dropped.

    It's no joke. It's quite expensive, and only about 30% actually get a degree. However, you get the freedom to take the courses you want and persue projects free form. There are two degree requirement projects. Mine both required four terms (semesters). I worked both in teams, though that isn't strictly required.

    External, forced discipline is, in my opinion, demotivational. However, it appears that most people require it.

    WPI is good for undergraduate education in Engineering and a few sciences (chemistry, physics, etc.). Don't even consider it if this isn't what you want.

    No school prepares you with knowledge needed for what you'll do next. WPI prepares you with how to figure out how to aquire new skills as you need them. If you get this, you are ahead of the game.

  • by garyok ( 218493 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:54PM (#9410079)
    ... "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Forget about how damn clever you think you are, just remember that all anybody has ever really been doing is trying to give you a boost when they tell you you're clever. You're not that clever. No-one is. Everybody has their own talents (and deficiencies) and people deserve respect, not some teenage nitwit telling them they're all dummies in comparison to him. Try to be clever and and 'beat' people in arguments and you'll only piss people off.

    You want to learn something useful: it's better to be kind than clever.

    • by wibs ( 696528 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:02PM (#9410135)
      That's an ironic sig to have after that post.
      • by garyok ( 218493 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:20PM (#9410270)
        I'd mod you up myself for that.

        Although I'd make the case that one tells you to get involved and the other tells you how to suceed when you get involved.

        OK, OK, I know - bullshit rationalisation. So, the next useful tip is: be a better liar.

    • I agree. No matter how smart you think you are, it's generally a bad idea to introduce yourself as uniquely clever. I'm only a bit older than you and consider myself to be reasonably smart and have some academic credentials to prove it (graduating top of my class at an prestigious college next week). Here is my advice to you. (1) don't be a snob. If you're smart, that's fine. But don't say you're uniquely smart or smarter than other people. That's just annoying. (2) Do the very very best you can in s
    • by Bishop ( 4500 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:43PM (#9410438)
      At its core the book How to Win Friends and Influence People is a book on social engineering. It is study on hacking society. Every geek should read it.
    • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:49PM (#9410474) Homepage Journal
      I read and like "How to stop worrying and start living." It has much of the same sound advice.

      I don't like agreeing with the above post because it's obvious flamebait. "teenage nitwit," is the most obvious attack. The straw men constructed show the author advocates kindness more than he practices it. Garyok, how the hell do you know how our anonymous reader treats people or tells them? How do you know that they are not really clever? As you say, "people deserve respect".

      That being said, my best advice is to get over being clever. I gave myself lots of problems before I did this for myself. I was self defeatingly lazy about the way I did my work.

      Every little thing counts. More than anything else, your school work shows that you can follow directions and are willing to do things that are boring to get what you want. Companies want employees that do everything they are told, not just the "exciting" things. Yeah, it's stupid but that's the way the world is made. You may not like working for a company that judges people this way, but most are like that and it beats being unemployed.

      The most important thing for my technical work was to see good examples. The Given, Find, Solution method is the best way to avoid mistakes and it really saves time even for trivial problems. Trivial problems don't require as much write up. You don't have to be a neat fanatic about it or even have good penmanship, but stating all of your assumptions and referencing equations and other sources makes your mistakes obvious to you when go back to check it. It gives you time to clear your head and avoids transcription problems because you can put your finger on your work and in the book at the same time to check. It also gives you a body of work to take to interviews.

      Look for other bright people and work with them. It will help you understand just where you fit into the world and you will understand more. I picked people at random and did well with one or two of them. One of them is still a very good friend and I have no idea why he thinks I'm brighter than he is.

  • by Dasein ( 6110 ) * <tedc@codeb i g . com> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:55PM (#9410087) Homepage Journal
    So, I was in the "gifted" program going through schools and it was all pretty easy for me as well. My big regret is that I didn't work harder at academics to begin with. I ended up getting a job instead. Although I've learned a lot and accomplished a lot, I've always wondered exactly what I missed by staying in school and working really hard. I look back on all the money and career success and I frankly hold it pretty cheap.

    So my advice, is find the hardest major in which you're interested and go work your ass off. Then, when you get to be my age and look back on it, you won't have to wonder because you went all out and did something really hard.
  • I'm with you... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stevens ( 84346 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @09:57PM (#9410104) Homepage

    I was in the same boat. If a topic interests me, I eat it up with vigour. If I'm uninterested or bored with it, I can't even force myself to do it. Result in school? A mix of A+ and C-.

    I went into programming because it interested me. I was lucky that it is also a very unregulated industry--you don't need a string of letters after your name; my Bachelor's does fine. This is important for people like us, because you want a career where knowledge counts but certificates don't (as much).

    My advice is: never stop learning, but don't waste your time with too much school. I declined grad school because I thought I'd die from boredom; but after a few of years working I have a position where I basically get to direct my own work to what I find interesting. Businesses need self-learning, independent thinkers. Trust me, I'm trying to hire, and while there are many "trained" people, there are few with an agile mind and good judgment. We have enough drones.

    Don't drop out of your undergrad--it's great fun! But try to slog through the boredom, and learn as much as possible on the way. Good luck with school, but remember to get out before you lose your mind.

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:00PM (#9410130) Homepage
    The headline really irritates me as I was hoping the word Bright was gaining traction in the Do not believe in a deity [the-brights.net] sense.

    Why not use intelligence in it's many forms for what the guy is after.

    Atheist has a negative meaning foisted upon us by the Theists that seems to be unable to accord the Faith "reasoning" to non-theists that they themselves hold so dear.

    • by Squeamish Ossifrage ( 3451 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:29PM (#9410344) Homepage Journal
      For pete's sake: You can't take a word that's in common use, re-define it, and expect people to take it up. Language change happens, but you can't force it.

      It also doesn't help when your re-definition is absurdly conceited. You're essentially claiming that yours is the intelligent position by appropriating the word. It would be Orwellian if it weren't ridiculous.

      ...And this is coming from someone who agrees with the principles "Brights" espouse.
  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:04PM (#9410155) Homepage
    I would like to hear from fellow /.ers that consider themselves unusually but non-traditionally 'bright' and how you have dealt with it. What are you doing now?

    The same thing we do every night, try to take over the world.
  • by potus98 ( 741836 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:08PM (#9410185) Journal

    A future PHB? All the ingrediants are there: arrogance, cockiness, self-delusion... Kid, you're headed for middle-management!

    These are the types of unrealistic self-loving kids you get when all you do is shower little Johnny with positive reinforcement no matter how much he sucks at [fill in sport, hobby, or interest here]. Chances are, this kid attended government schools. And now he's comparing himself to those teenagers? Maybe you really are special, though statistically speaking, I doubt it.

    You think you're bright, sharp, and multi-talented? Anyone can have that impression when they compare themselves to their coincidental surroundings (family, local friends, etc.) Think you're good at computers? Go to Berkeley or someplace where you will really be challenged. Like rockets? Get a PhD and join NASA. Great swimmer? Then get on the Olympic team. Otherwise, you're just another schmuck.

    Don't get sucked into comparing yourself against easy targets like teenage pals. Until you work with the best in a given field (or even the pretty good) you have NO idea how much you suck.

    And if you're good at cooking, go win an Iron Chef tournament. Until then, reel in the ego before you get pounded.

  • by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <kirijini@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:08PM (#9410188)
    If you think you're a non-traditional student, go to a non-traditional college. Like New College of Florida [ncf.edu], which has essentially no required classes, so you don't have to take stupid, boring, and irrelevant to your interests classes; no grades, so you can't compare intelligence by GPA; only 650 students, so you can actually meet everyone on campus, and get to be friends with everyone with the same interests; the ability to create your own classes ("tutorials") and research projects ("Independant Study Project" or ISP); and you graduate based on a final thesis and baccalaurate exam - in other words, if you graduate, it means that you learned something and could demonstrate it in a 100 thesis and hour(s) long oral defense.

    New College ain't the only school like this out there. Schools like this exist because some students don't do as well as they potentially can in a academically strict environment (like highschool and early college). Get more out of your education than a diploma. Spend four (or more!) years being yourself and growing from it.
  • by Punk Walrus ( 582794 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:08PM (#9410190) Journal
    Yeah, and I bet you are very similar to many Slashdotters in this. I am exactly like you describe; easily bored in topics I hate, and intensely focused on stuff I love.

    In school, I was always considered bright and gifted, but got a lot of comments that I never applied myself, or "reached potential." I despised that kind of comment, because how the hell would you know what my "potential" was? But I grew up in an abusive home, and to make a long and complex story short, by 18, I was living on my own.

    This was my true test, and I did pretty good. I went from being essentially homeless to living with friends to getting a job, making friends with cool people, and while I can't say it's been an easy or the best life, I'd say for me it turned out pretty well. Looking back on it, college and I would have never gotten along. I have always hated structured and abstract learning (meaning "learn this way, and we won't tell you why, or how anything relates to the real world cases!"), and I got accused of daydreaming by some teachers and "asks too many irrelevant questions" by others. Guess which classes interested me?

    My "self-education" led me to computers, and the drive to learn how things worked made me a better and better tech. Soon I worked at a call center, and kissed my retail days good-bye. Then I was doing QA. Then I was programming call centers. Then I was working an International help desk for a large ISP. Now I'm managing proactive QA Testing solutions that keep the Internet going for millions of people. Never had a college degree, but I have certifications and company awards on my walls. I love what I am doing.

    I didn't gain anything by being an office backstabber, either. I found you gain more opportunities with friends, so I make friends wherever I go. And I have found that is the key to being successful in any career is the connections between people.

    My advice to all young people of any career or life path is to make friends, be friendly and polite as much as you can, learn people's names, and never look down on anyone, no matter how "insignificant" or "a jerk" they seem. Learn from them. That may be "just the janitor" but he has keys to rooms, you know what I mean? Humans are social beings. They love attention. If you give them attention, they seek you out. And never forget those who have helped you in the past, either.

    As the saying goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know."

  • Interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <slashdot@nospAM.metasquared.com> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:08PM (#9410191) Homepage
    I could have gotten the first post, but I'll write a long-winded and hopefully helpful response instead of the one liner I'd need to keep it that way... and probably end up with a post that never gets read :)

    I'm an INTJ (Myers-Briggs tested) and a junior in college (Major - Computer Science, Minor - Mathematics). I'm currently working as a math tutor and a software developer for the AQUAINT project, which is an ARDA-funded question and answer system. I'm also working with ontologies and the semantic web a lot as a side project until I'm able to devote more time to AQUAINT. I seem to share a lot of traits with you, so I'll try to give any advice I think particularly relevant to myself. Here's what I've thought of from my own transition:
    • I do very well with the responsibility I'm expected to carry in college. I resent people who continue to treat me like a child, but fortunately, there aren't too many left. Even the crowd that traditionally likes to make fun of my sort accepts me in a college environment.
    • My GPA has shot up drastically since highschool. I was barely maintaining a 3.0 in highschool; now I have a 3.96 (and only because of one anal professor). This could be, in part, because my highschool GPA was an underestimate, therefore I ended up in an easier college than I should have.
    • If you catch a professor's attention and you are proficient at what you do, you may very well end up with a job. Unless you have some objection, you should probably take it, since it usually leads to something bigger and may very well start your career off with an advantage.
    • I've found that it pays to specialize a bit in college, but not so much as to lose other potentially valuable skills. In particular, I tried some new things, and found out I was a great composer of music. I guess the lesson here is to try new things, but concentrate on what you're good at.
    • To summarize, college is a time of ideals and opportunities. Make sure not to get bogged down in the rest of the reality of college, because the next 4 years will literally determine the course of a good part of your life. Make sure to get the most you can out of them.

    As for what I would have done differently, I suppose I should have looked into residential life. I saw the dorms and immediately said "I am not living there", but I may have very well missed out on a good deal of what "college" is.

    I would have taken a lighter course load had I known what I was getting into. I don't have much free time left after 18 credits of class and two part-time jobs on the side. I'd also have taken my friends' advice sooner and "loosened up" a bit more. I'm a very uptight person by nature, but there isn't really a reason for it; everyone seems a lot less judgemental in college.

    Best of luck, and feel free to contact me if you want to share experiences or anything.
  • Heh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ivern76 ( 665227 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:15PM (#9410239)
    My only advice would be to stop telling people you're "uniquely bright." It doesn't go over well. That kind of thinking is something you just keep to yourself...instead, demonstrate your intelligence through action. If you're interested in programming, I'd suggest picking a pet project and getting your hack on.
  • by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:26PM (#9410325)
    Don't be arrogant.

    You'll go out and find you aren't as special as you think you are. Yes, I was the same way... and still am. I have a 3.92, graduated HS with lots of honors (higher gpa though... could have been higher if i didn't slack off my soph year), got all the comments about intelligence, genius, whatever. Now i'm a junior in college and work too.

    I have a co-op job and work with some people I concider not as intelligent as I am or they just don't grasp things like I do... but I don't care. They know things that I don't, they think differently than I do, but they're engineers, they're smart too. You can be gifted in many different ways (I used to work at a bagle shop and had an awesome General Manager there. He was gifted in his own right and I highly respect him).

    At work I have it setup where I get daily dilbert when I log into my computer... odly enough last week was pretty much all about the "prima donna" of the office. And now my only advice to you is to try not to be that guy.

    Even in classes the same rule applies. Don't be that guy who thinks he's god's gift to the classroom/lecture hall. I've seen plenty of those, and no one likes them.

    Who did we like or admire? The guy who got close to the higest grade on all the exams but kept to himself. He was bright, and not an ass hole.

    Sure you might have the gifts for science, computers, art, music, or whatever you like... but what you really need to keep up in the real world is to have the social skills.
  • Some real advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scratch-O-Matic ( 245992 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:31PM (#9410354)
    I felt the same as you...maybe I'm as smart as you and maybe not.

    But here's the thing that has made my life invaluable. No shit...


    Your talents will take you wherever they take you, but friendship will fill the gaps.
  • Own business (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:52PM (#9410493)
    Unusually bright people are not welcome in day to day society.

    Popular culture goes out of its way to make people who are intelligent, well-spoken and aware appear to be strange. Very often those people are excluded as quickly as possible from the societal "cocktail party on the patio deck."

    The reason for this is that people who are not unusually bright mistakenly believe that intelligent people make them look stupid. The intelligent people must therefore be removed from the stage as quickly as possible, otherwise they might begin to have some political influence which would reduce middle management's ability to stuff their own pockets.

    Smart people are the first ones ridiculed, the first ones argued with, the first ones made fun of, the first ones fired. Smart people often have little or no use for office politics, which is why it is so easy for lying cheat fuck middle management bastards to outmanuever them and get them fired.

    Bright people usually begin their careers believing the quality of their work will enable them to succeed. What they later find out is that there are two choices: spend your career wading through a swamp of bubbling, wet shit with liar cheat rat bastard fuck "supervisors," or start your own business with a couple of other bright people and bypass the cubicle bullshit factory. The quality of someone's work is absolutely irrelevant to success in the workplace. In fact, the higher the quality of someone's work, the more likely it is they will be fired.

    Business encourages office politics and people who are liar cheat fuck bastards always win. Bright people mistakenly believe that being a liar cheat fuck bastard should disqualify someone from competent professional discussion. It does not. In fact, it usually gives the liar cheat fuck bastard an insurmountable advantage. So, the smart people get fired, leaving entire floors full of liar cheat fuck bastards who are paid exorbitant amounts, do no work, yet can't be fired because they have mastered the arts of office politics and being a liar cheat fuck bastard.

    Mediocre, visionless, imaginationless, dull people are usually the first to buy a home, first to raise a family, first to get promoted, first to drive the expensive car, first to put in a pool, first to take the vacations. They can't be fired either, because they never say anything except "there's cake in the conference room" and "are you on the morning donut list yet?"

    So, if a bright person expects to enter the workplace, expect to find four groups:

    1) Upper management, pockets already stuffed with tall dollars, ordering lunch from a golf cart, oblivious

    2) Middle management, busily stuffing their pockets with whatever is left over, ordering in from the local delivery deli.

    3) Dull, witless drones, talking about their weekend trip to "the river" or "the canyon," what color their new Navigator will be, and the landscaping on their palacial four-acre estate, financed because they have never been fired, ever, and ordering lunch as a group from the menu at the local "yuppie grill" which is the only place in town where one can order an $11 bacon cheeseburger. They can afford it, after all, because they have never, EVER opened a bill without a matching paycheck.

    4) One or two smart, intelligent people, quietly working through lunch on a brilliant project, unaware they will be fired a few days before or after it is completed.

    I have long since given up on the "job market," because after three and a half years of being unemployed, and over 400 resumes, I believe it to be a festering maggot-infested open sore on society, draining every last shred of joy and wisdom from people's careers, and destroying the educations and communities of millions upon millions of hard-working people.
    • Re:Own business (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Keck ( 7446 )
      Tell us how you really feel, cubicledrone... :)

      ..But seriously, I agree with the statement that people ought to start their own businesses more than they do; but I take issue with the larger statement that 'intelligent people are not welcome' in society.. I'm an [E|I]NTP like the author, but it's important to recognize the many different kinds of 'intelligence' just beginning to gain wider recognition. If you don't think that being socially intelligent is both valuable, and a legitimate form of intellig
  • Let's see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:57PM (#9410515) Journal
    All right. So you're an intelligent slacker who wants to get away with not doing anything you don't want to do. Okay, I can relate. Unfortunately for both of us, unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth you probably won't have much success. Allow me to suggest a few compromises that might make your life easier.

    If you want a nice job(and if you're going to college, I hope that's what you want), then you might want to:

    * Drop the elitism
    "Does not fulfill potential", as one poster put it, is a synonym for "useless". If you want to be anything other than a hermit, you need to learn how to adapt yourself to the world. This doesn't mean surrendering your individuality and becoming a tool of The Man, but it does mean that you will have to do things you don't want to do. Trying to pass yourself off as too intelligent and "non-traditional" for everyday life is going to do nothing but piss people off. How would you feel if someone told you that they were too smart to deal with you?

    * Figure out what you want to do
    Being interested in many things is good, but if you want a fun job you're probably going to have to specialize in something too. Make sure that what you major in is what you actually want to do. Internships and co-ops are one approach to doing this. You should also consider what kind of standard of living you want. If you can't handle $30k/yr and no possibility of advancement, then perhaps that degree in Jamaican Basket Weaving is not for you.

    As far as learning goes:

    * Get used to doing things you don't want to do
    Most(all?) decent school require you to take a core set of courses before you get a degree. Each major will of course have its own set of requirements. Some of these will not be fun. Deal with it. You cannot study anything in depth without having to deal with a few unpleasantries. More importantly, it'll make you a better person. Every new thing you learn makes you better at learning in general. Someone else said it better than I did:

    "It's weird how when I look back at college, I find my best compsci

    teachers were, indeed, the most literate teachers. There was one guy
    who read all of Dickens every year. Another guy taught himself a new
    language every year. I remember I happened to be in one of his
    courses during the year he was learning Latin and had to put up with
    loads of these weird Latin quotations he'd put everywhere. Flash
    forward ten years and I'm stuck in a super-intense Latin 101 course
    for grad students who need to learn a foreign language pronto,
    and I realized why my little bald compsci teacher was so gungho for
    conjugation and for quoting Virgil at every turn: you realize that
    in some weird -- perhaps even unconscious -- way everything that you
    force yourself to learn *outside* of your chosen "track" actually
    feeds *into* that track and makes you wild, creative, and utterly
    un-fucking-predictable. You scare yourself, scare your friends, and
    you realize, damn, dude, just chill. Cool it on the caffeine and
    espresso because if you get too juiced with the creative jazz -- if
    you make too many connections -- leaping from liberal arts shit to
    comp-sci shit to physics shit -- it's almost overwhelming. The more
    you learn, the more connections you can make -- and the more
    creative you become.

    On a more practical level, learning to do things you don't like in college will make it easier to do so at other, more important times.

    * Grow as a person
    While it's fasionable on Slashdot to lament one's school years as a waste of time, the truth is that once you graduate you won't have as much free time as you used to. A full time job will take a very large chunk of your energy, energy that you had previously put into hobbies and leisure. Spend your college years making friends, trying new activities, and learning how to live as an adult. If there's anything you've always wanted to do, like play a musical instrument or le

  • Make your own path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by humankind ( 704050 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @10:57PM (#9410523) Journal
    This is a great topic. Not because of the subject matter, but the in-between psychology that comes into play here.

    Let's face it, most of the greatest minds of all time withdrew into themselves; strived to be more than what was expected of them because of the adversity they faced and/or their own insecurities. It goes without saying that a lot of people will find your query narcissistic and arrogant and fire off appropriate retorts.

    I haven't read the responses. This is such a cool thread that I feel compelled to offer my own commentary untainted by what others may have said.

    First off, who gives a fuck what anybody else thinks. If you believe in yourself, fuck everyone else. 99.9% of the time people seek to label those as arrogant, anyone who might appear to be more self-confident than themselves. That's not your problem.

    This whole argument isn't about intelligence and wit. It's about self-confidence. The reality is that you're not exceptionally gifted in the physical sense. You can't do anything any other humanoid can do. But you may be more aware than most that the limitations imposed by society are not insurmountable. That's what's special -- not you.

    If you believe in yourself and have been able to demonstrate to those around you that you can excel beyond the mundane, then you don't need to prove anything to anybody other than yourself. What you do with your career is peripheral to what you want to do for yourself. All the great people of the world followed their own path, and they felt confident that whatever they were doing, be it investment banking or brick-laying, they were the best of their kind. That's the way to do things.

    Figure out what makes you happy. If you really want to believe in yourself, fuck college. If it doesn't jive with your dreams, don't do it. College will only serve to make you conform to the roles that others on the assembly line think will guarantee them a career. If you truly are "special" then no matter what you do, you will succeed. The easy way out is to follow the path of everyone else.
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:08PM (#9410592)
    I wish I had never attempted college. I threw my money down the drain repeatedly.
  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:08PM (#9410595) Journal
    I too thought (well I guess I still do) I was incredibly bright and talented. Straight As in high school without even trying really. Head on out to Carnegie Mellon and WTF...I'm not the brightest anymore. In fact, I had to bust my ass to be just above average. Since then I've worked a myriad of jobs and started a few companies.

    The point is, go get humbled. Find out where your strengths and weaknesses are once you're thrown in with the cream of the crop. You may find you're in the top 5% when it comes to coding but the bottom 5% in communication and reasoning. If, after four years you still find you're a genius, go out in the world, say you got superior grades at a top notch school and do whatever the hell you want. My guess is though, you'll be eating a little humble pie for the first couple semesters at school.
  • by MyHair ( 589485 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:08PM (#9410598) Journal
    I was about to skip this article entirely, but the editor's comment about INTP caught my interest. If his insight is correct I may have something to offer.

    I've never quite fit in and might possibly fit your description, although I would never publicly declare myself "unusually but non-traditionally bright" even though I may sometimes think so if I haven't done something really stupid recently (which I'm prone to do).

    At age 34 I think I'm finally more or less comfortable with my future plans and how I fit into things.

    Now, the INTP thing. That's a Myers-Briggs [personality] Type Indicator. I've never been much into classifying people, but I felt personally validated after reading some material on the subject. Basically I'm an INTP which is less than 5% of the world's population, so I figure it's okay that I don't seem to think like "everyone else" (for better or worse). The descriptions of INTP's thinking, working and love habits really hit home, too, so that made me feel better. David Keirsey has a couple of books _Please Understand Me_ and _... II_ which cover the subject.

    If MB typing interests you, check out _Do What You Are_ by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Baroon-Tieger. It suggests occupations that match the interests of each of the types.

    Like I say I'm a bit skeptical of psychological studies and categorizations in general, but using the above material for validation and occasionally a sanity check helped me feel better, although I don't know if it made any tangible difference in my life. My career was already set when I read these books.

    Back to practical advice and personal experience, I had no clue what I wanted to do after high school. I went to college as a default. I did okay at first, but my grades went downhill after a year or two. I was good with computers but couldn't imagine any job I would like involving them; I imagined sitting in front of a green screen typing all day and didn't like it. I had a job with a big company, though, and when working a remote site my terminal went down. The tech showed up while I was there, unplugged the modem and plugged in a new one. I said (or maybe thought...I can't remember now) "you get paid to do that? I can do that." So I got in touch with his manager and found out what the job requirements were: an Associate's degree. So I changed my college focus and got the 2-year degree and happened to get that job just as I graduated. From there my experiences and job interests expanded.

    So I guess my career advice is to open your eyes and watch what other people are doing; if you like it, find out how you can do it. That probably sounds obvious to everyone else, but at that age I was very introspective and other people didn't interest me much.

    I hate sales. And it sounds like you probably do, too: "Friends and others recognize my strength in these areas." I usually say that I'm bad at first impressions but when people see what I can do they gain respect. When I say sales I include the forward type of behavior involved in cold selling, meeting women and job hunting, because I think they use very similar talents that I (and I suspect you) lack. A couple of things that helped me in this area a while back were college classes in interpersonal communication and business communication. A few customer service seminars at work helped a lot, too. This is important: having techincal skills is good, but these days you *have* to have the people skills to be secure. I still vehemently hate cold selling and job hunting, but I have good customer service skills and work well with just about everyone.

    The rest you will decide for yourself as you learn and get more experience in exactly who you are and what you want. I didn't really figure it out until quite recently. I looked at other people and couldn't find anyone whose example I wanted to follow. At 30 I kinda freaked out, quit my job and did some other odd stuff because I just didn't like where my life was going. The past 3 years I've spent recovering fina

  • by digitect ( 217483 ) <digitect@@@dancingpaper...com> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:09PM (#9410607)

    Can't say I consider myself so bright any more now that I'm older, but I suggest you try a field that has a lot of width, like architecture.

    That was my experience. I was lucky to get six years to complete undergrad (thanks Mom and Dad!) so I could do the four year commitment to architecture school while still taking quite a few religion, business, art and history courses. Never failed a class and graduated with nearly 200 hours. Best thing that could have happened, even though I didn't realize it at the time. (I transferred too late in my freshman year and couldn't get into Arch school until my junior year.)

    And now, even though I've been in this career for a while, I still enjoy it. Architecture has a lot of different opportunities. You can develop into a designer, focusing on the art and philosophy. Or you can explore the technical side becoming a specialist in specifications, construction administration, or some particular design focus such as laboratory planning. Other opportunities include project, financial and office management, marketing and graphics, or CAD, computer and technical support. Really, there's something for everyone.

    The trick is to not focus too soon. Most professions (medicine, law, accounting, architecture) have a range of skill areas. Even computer science, as specific as it is, has opportunities in marketing, usability, testing, graphics, business and project management, sales, internal technical support, and human resources--not just programming.

    The downside of not focusing early is that you'll always be behind the savant who did. But if you know yourself not to be that way (as you do) don't even try to compete. I always think its funny when the working end of the screwdriver types (in my profession the designers) lament that everyone else goes home on time and has more of a life. They miss that it's a team effort, and they need the rest of us as much as we need them. (Besides the fact that such focus can sometimes lead to massive mis-direction and inefficiency. Although I will grant that it takes that type and effort to yield the once-in-a-lifetime genius work of architecture. Once. Among dozens of failures and misses.)

    So be sure to shop around and keep yourself learning broadly. Force yourself to learn things you don't want to know. And remember, even though you might be known as your office's Cliff [tvheaven.com] Clavin [tvland.com], it only takes one time for that single obscure bit of knowledge or experience to land your firm a mega contract and bump you up the ladder five rungs.

  • by jburroug ( 45317 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMacerbic.org> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:15PM (#9410636) Homepage Journal
    They're unhappy with their lives and want everyone else to be too. Also ignore the eternal optimists, following their advice will leave you unprepared for a colder, harsher world than they describe. Above all else, ignore me I don't know what the hell I'm talking about either. Though I would also suggest reading what we all have to say and evaluating it's merit as only you can.

    Ok so now I'm going to make a few statements and offer some suggestions that I expect you to ignore because even if hadn't told you to ignore me you'd do you're own thing anyway. First off you're situation isn't all that unique. There are plenty of bright young people that didn't like HS who now find themselves wondering what to do with their lives. There are also plenty of bright not-so-young-anymore people who went through the exact same thing you're going through. I count myself a member of the latter group and I imagine that a lot /. readers fit into one or another catagory as well. Don't worry, this is a good thing, if you and your circumstances were truely unique you'd have no peers to support you and no 'elders' with experience for you to draw on. So as one of your 'elders' let me offer a few suggestions for you to ignore that might be of some use.

    Go to University. Not because it's good for you, or because "it will help you get a job" but because it's fun. If you love to learn as much as you claim to you'll have a blast at Uni and can diversify your education as much as you like (or until you run out of money) If you haven't already given it some thought you may want to consider majoring in business management (*disclaimer: this is what my degree is in.) If your attention span is fickle as you say you'll probably enjoy this degree. You do one or two class from each of the major areas of the business program and move on. The focus is on giving the student a working knowledge of many different areas, plus there are a lot of elective credits to play with, I took a lot CS and extra Econ courses with mine.

    Don't get stuck in the paradigm of living a "normal" life. If you so chose you can abandon the concepts of "career" and "permanent residence." At 25 I'm on my third post-college job and second career-track. I've also put in one cross country move and I'm starting to think of doing another in 12-18 months. This has worked well for me because I do bore easilly and am somewhat less risk-averse than average I think. I like exploring new cities, mastering new jobs and adding to my portfolio of skills. There are downsides to being a white-collar vagabond however. It's hard to say goodbye to close friends and family, retirement accounts don't grow as fast and there are long worrying spells when you have no health insurance. Also you'll probably never make as much money as someone who choses a more staid and serious life. You'll also never be a true expert in any feild, where others aquire great depth of knowledge, you'll aquire great breadth, and may just be a lot happier for it. I'm not saying this is the way for you to live or even that it's a permanent deal for me either but it's an idea to keep in mind should you find yourself feeling bored and trapped a year or two into first "real" job outta college.

    Diversify your hobbies and live outside of your head some -or- don't forget you have a body attached to that big monkey brain of yours. If you get bored of specific projects or hobbies easilly diversifying and adding some physical ones can really help. It's nice to get a break from thinky stuff on a regular basis. To break up the monotany of my day jobs and thinky hobbies I also cycle, run, hike, backpack, lift weights, brew (and drink) beer and have plans to start moonshining. These are all activities that require me to manipulate the real world or my own body, not just bits on the computer screen or words in my head.

    To close I'll borrow from the great Bard himself, remember "to thine own self be true." Do whatever it is that you think will make you happy and keep doing it until your not happy with it anymore, then find something else.
  • Be flexible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) * on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:39PM (#9410791)
    I didn't go to college, yet my yearly income puts me into the upper middle-class range. My personal opinion is that formal college degrees are a waste of time for people that are smart and are willing to work hard. (Although I think technical colleges are vastly underrated and that for some careers, like medicine, college is unavoidable.) I go to where I am today by working hard, learning how to discuss, accept and support decisions made by others even when I disagree with them.

    Remember that no one is indespensible no matter how good you are or how much you know. Now that you know that, be prepared to take on any task your boss asks. I remember licking envelopes when I was a programmer back in the 80s because the bank needed it done.

    Second off, whatever you do, do it the best you can. A few years ago, I was loaned out as a consultant to a partner company for some vague technical skills task, but when I got there I found out all they needed was someone to sit in meetings and take minutes and publish them. Some people might have felt that it was beneath them. But if they were willing to pay my company $100/hour for my taking minutes, they were going to be the best damned minutes anyone had ever seen. After awhile, because I offered up opinions during meetings, people mentioned that I was over-qualified. But then I mentioned the above comment about the best damned minutes, and they were absolutley grateful that I was doing the task I was because the needed it done, and they were the best damned meeting minutes anyone had done. They repeatedly told my company's CIO and CEO what a great employee I was. Was I sucking up?? Maybe. But I got paid the same regardless. It was only for 3 months, and it was the most stress-free 3 months in my entire career. Besides, those CIOs and CEOs are the ones that decide who stays and goes during layoffs.

    Thirdly, don't let them take advantage of you and be honest if they try. I've been through the 80 hour work weeks and was very honest with my boss about how long I was willing to do so. He pushed it, and I pushed back, albiet very lightly. I eventually left, but it was very cordial and he called me back from time to time to ask if I needed a job. That was very handy when I was laid off several years later.

    Fourth, don't whine. If something is broke, offer up the problem and a solution to whoever is in charge. It's one thing to go to your manager and whine about the project being late, it's another to point out why it is going to be late, and what needs to be done to correct it. Whiners get ignored and become a pain in the arse.

    Lastly, when opportunities present themselves to advance, grab them even if it means shifting careers. I started out as an office clerk, but jumped at a computer operator position, then started learning COBOL for my next jump. In my current job, I am the go-to guy when no one else can fix a problem because over the last 25 years I kept current with programing languages, took sys admin, network admin, telecom admin and database admin responsibilities in different systems and learned them all. Now, I can get all these folks into a room whenever there is a finger-pointing problem and keep them there until the problem is fixed. That is very valuable; I am known around the company as the guy you can't BS and my CEO knows that not only am I the guy to get things fixed, I am also the one who can do the work if needed no matter where the problem is. Guess who will not get laid off the next round.

    Should you go to college?? If you want to, go. If you want to go into debt up to your eyeballs go ahead. There's nothing wrong with that and it might help you get a great job in 4 years. But if you are as bright as you think you are then get an entry position anywhere that offers tuition reimbursement and be the best warehouse/factory/secretary or whatever you can be. Take all the night courses you can on their dime, then watch the internal job postings and apply for anything you might be qualified for that improves your sal
  • by jelle ( 14827 ) on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:43PM (#9410827) Homepage
    It looks to me like you first need to do some soul searching into who you really are and what you really want to do in life. Example:

    First you say "I'm incredibly intense and concentrated, yet I often become bored of specific projects in a few months." but later you say "My attention span is practically unlimited when I am interested in a topic, and I get intensely interested in it."

    And you say you love to learn, and people tell you you should be getting very good grades at school, but you don't. Do you want to learn or not? (and how/where?).

    You need to make up your mind. That means doing two things: making a choice and then setting a goal. Stop waiting what the day brings you, but take the day to where you want it to go. Take charge of your own life.

    You seem interested in many things, but keep getting worried that you're missing something better if you stick with it, hence the feeling of boredom sets in. Independent of whether you actually do have attention problems and can't stick with something, or possibly you do have a practically unlimited attention span (but you are still not sure what for) what you need to do is look farther into the future and set an ambitious goal. Imagine yourself 10 years from now, and what it would take for you to see yourself being happy and successful. I'm saying you and yourself and I mean it, don't go for the bland 'commonly accepted definitions' of happyness and success, but what really is it that makes you happy and what would you consider a success when you look at yourself 10 years from now. For some people that means having a family of your own (loving wife & kids), for others a particular career (money, respect, power), for others a particular social position in society (love, respect, power), and for some it is linked to a geographical place, or other people, or a particular surrounding, also religion may be a factor, etc.

    It can help to add the 10 years to your age and search for people in that age group that can (partly) serve as a role model or guide. Your personal role models don't have to be alive, or currently in the target age group, but it can be very helpful to research 'what did eeeee do when he/she was that age'.

    When you know where and what you want to be in the future, that will tell you exactly what steps to take now and will help you make all those smaller choices needed to get there.

    Just my 2cts worth...

    Myself I feel like I'm just in the process of achieving current long-term goals and I must say that I am happy and feel successful, and now I am searching for a new goal. I am confident I will have a much clearer picture of it by the end of this year, and for you: I hope you do too.

  • by Dave21212 ( 256924 ) <dav@spamcop.net> on Saturday June 12, 2004 @11:44PM (#9410829) Homepage Journal

    From a fellow INTP, been there, done that...

    I've had the best success when I approached a class a a 'new game' rather than an opportunity to learn. If you think that college is a citadel of learning, you are in for a big reality check. I have a pal who holds several degrees (BS, MS, going for the MBA) and he put it best, "Professors are not there to teach you. They are there to give you a grade. And I mean 'give you' the grade they feel you deserve."

    They are people just like you and I, no more and no less. Imagine yourself as a professor for a moment.

    Ok, so it's a game. The object of the game is to get a professor to give you a good grade. Learn who they are, how they operate, what they expect, and do some work.

    My favorite example is a Socio-cultural Anthropology class I took (requirement filler). The prof. was about as PC as they get. We had two texts and an autobiography to read. I managed a B without opening any of them (just to see if I could do it I think.) I just answered the insanely easy multiple-guess exams in the most PC way I could. I hit it right on the head, that's what she wanted us to "learn" - the PC crap, not any real anthropology methodology (hint: we had movies to watch ever other week, that was a dead givaway we were not going to 'learn' anything).

    Anyway, enough of my ramblings... remember, college is a big new game to you. One that you haven't learned the rules to yet, that you haven't mastered yet, that's rather difficult and many people can't master. It's the grade game ultimately, with a side bet on if you manage to make a few close friends there and learn a bit from it as you go. Go win it if you think you can ;)

    p.s. I'm a hotshot developer [ibm.com] with a good job I enjoy, and I almost finished my BS (got enticed by the boom, or more precisely, the money that was available back in the 90's). I may still get that degree yet !
  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @12:14AM (#9411016)
    Is two-fold.

    1) As some others have pointed out, you're basically a kid (although possibly legal) who graduated from high school. Bright though you may claim to be, you haven't really demonstrated anything in terms of practical intelligence. Get off the high horse and prepare for step two.

    2) Sit down with your folks and talk this through with them. Spend a year living on your own in the real world. Trust me, it's only gonna take a year. Move out, get an apartment, pay some bills, get a credit card and learn to use it correctly (or better still, royally screw up and be thankful that you're only 18). You don't have to go all out and get a car loan (if you can avoid it, because it's going to keep you tied into this lifestyle, so try to get a car from the folks), but avoid living at home during this experiment at all costs.

    Try to obtain and hold down two or three of the following jobs during the year: Retail Sales/clerk, some sort of receptionist/secretarial/clerical work, car sales or some similar "high stakes" sales job, or some sort of construction or low end mechanic work (a jiffy lube or similar). These are the sorts of jobs that a person without a degree can work in and, to a point, actually sustain themselves. While you can hear stories all day long about guys who have sys-admin jobs with no degree to back them up, the fact is that those days are pretty much gone, and there's enough guys out there with a CS degree who will work the same job that it'll keep you at "Mel's Used Cars" indefinitely. The up-side to these jobs is you'll learn some cool stuff that will have a practical application in your life later on. You can pick up some good info on how car dealerships work, and how to keep from getting scammed. You can play retail from the other side of the counter, and chances are that you'll be kinder to retail clerks for the rest of your life. Knowing basic construction skills will save you huge amounts further down the road when you own a house and don't have to pay somebody $1,000 to hang some sheetrock in that room over the garage you want to turn into a LAN lair.

    In about 4 months it's going to dawn on you that things like the basic food in your house cost a fair chunk of cash, that car insurance is ludicrously expensive, that landlords aren't always the best people but work well with give-and-take situations, and that living with a roomie isn't always the hilarious life sit-coms make it out to be. You're going to start to realize the amount of money it would take to live and be self-sufficient, and the amount of money it will take to do anything other than "tread water". When you hit December or so, apply to the university or community college of your choice, because come May you're going to be sick of this "real world" crap, but more importantly, you're going to realize that although 50% of college is bullshit classes and random facts that you'll never need to know (I can tell you that the word 'file' came into the English language through middle French, and is named for the thin string originally used to organize 'files' in a cabinet), but part of the point is proving to an employer that you can slog through bullshit. People will change careers, on average, five times in their life. Get a degree in a subject you enjoy, even if it's History or English, and try to study some interesting subjects in your electives. Your first job may not be exciting or pay mad Benjamins, but by this point you'll have already figured out that work isn't fun time. It shouldn't be crap, mind you, and with luck you'll also have learned how to spot crap employers, but you'll be a little more understanding of how life actually works, and you'll realize that work isn't supposed to be demoralizing, but it isn't usually fun either.

    When you get a real job, one where you have weekends and two weeks of vacation, you'll have time to pursue your weird side interests and linux and tinkering and everything else you adore. Not oodles, no, but it'll be there. Try to keep yourself reaso
  • Philosophy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lux55 ( 532736 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @12:40AM (#9411168) Homepage Journal
    There's so much to learn out there, much of which is unfortunately not accessible via the modern university (at least not the main paths through it), that would both provide a good mental challenge for you, as well as help channel your intellectual gifts into positive outlets.

    The classics and the medievals especially, btw. While the moderns are important, I'd argue that that's so because we need to figure out where we went wrong in order to right ourselves. The classics, on the other hand, and the medieval philosophers especially, had such a huge emphasis on method, which is so critical to making any progress at all (methods beyond the impirical scientific method).

    The empirical evidence to the importance of philosophy, in case you're skeptical of it, is that most of the great scientific and mathematical minds throughout history considered themselves philosophers, not scientists, and considered the two inseperable. The major artists too, you'll find, also considered themselves not artists but philosophers.

    PS. Philosophy is Greek for "Lover of Learning" or "Lover of Wisdom". Can't top that if your hunger for learning really is insatiable. ;)

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell