October 6, 2011
One of the many legacies of Steve Jobs is to stand as a humbling reminder to colleges and universities that not everyone needs a degree.
In the Commencement address he gave at Stanford in 2005, Jobs tells three stories. The first is about his experience at Reed, where he was enrolled for six months and then ‘hung around’ for another eighteen months, dropping in on classes after he dropped out of college. The difference, for him, was that he was now studying what he wanted to learn, not what others wanted him to learn.
One of the things he wanted to learn was calligraphy. (He learned it from Robert Palladino, but Lloyd Reynolds had begun the calligraphy tradition at Reed.) And from calligraphy was born Steve Jobs’s passion for design.
Jobs exemplified everything we want to claim college makes possible, but he did it all without a degree. He simply had passions for learning and for excellence.