LinkedInMy LinkedIn profile is 85% complete. It has been since I first signed up, and probably will be in 5 years. Why? Because I have not included my education. Here’s my recent correspondence with LinkedIn:

I do not wish to include education in my profile. I am a self-employed college dropout, and it is not relevant.

Yet LinkedIn does not allow an option for “include none”, and insists my profile remains only 85% complete. I find this really annoying, and would appreciate the option to include no education component in my profile.

Is my life incomplete according to LinkedIn because I have been largely educated within the University of Life?

Here is the response:

Dear Paul,

Thank you for contacting LinkedIn Customer Support.

And I want to apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Unfortunately, this option cannot be changed at this time, I will sent your information to our research and development team for future consideration.

[…]

We appreciate your commitment to making LinkedIn a stronger community!

It was mostly written in a late night moment of jest, but I do wonder how many others fall into a category like mine. Is Bill Gates on LinkedIn? OK, Bill Gates has been a bit more successful than me, but he’s had a few years headstart.

For those who don’t know me terribly well and aren’t already bored by this post, I’ll fill in some of the mundane details of my life.

As a teenager, I was very interested in computers, and would often stay up very late working on them. I wasn’t interested in games, but communications. One of the first things I did with my new 80286 computer and 1200 baud modem was open my own bulletin board system (BBS), which allowed people to dial my computer up from their computer, using the phone line, and post messages, download files (ironically, usually games), chat (when I was around), and send private messages.

fidonetBefore the Internet came into popular use, my BBS was a node of FidoNet, a global network that operated across phone lines around the world (my address was 1:340/36).

I also found high school exceptionally boring, so much so that I barely graduated. They’d always enroll me in special classes for smart kids (or smart asses, in my case), but I’m fairly certain I never once applied myself. I had a C- in English 12, due primarily to the fact that classes began at 7:45am, so I missed about a third of them.

After high school I took an operations job with a medical software company and worked my way up the ladder there. I quit after a few years to take Political Science and History in college (I even took an English placement test, which ironically allowed me to skip the first English composition class, despite almost failing English 12). I went for one semester, but was given an opportunity to go back to my previous employer. The offer was for far more than what I might have earned with a PoliSci degree, so I dropped college and went back to work.

In 2000, I made a strategic exit from that company to start my own web company, and have been doing that ever since.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-education. Far from it, I am an enthusiastic supporter! I am often invited as a guest speaker for business students, and often work with people in my community to support the local University. I have a tonne of respect for anybody with an MBA, a Masters Degree, or a Doctorate – they clearly have a hell of a lot more patience than me!

So when people ask about my alma mater, life experience is my response.

  • Name

    I fully agree. My biggest source of education has been the University of Life

  • Name

    I fully agree. My biggest source of education has been the University of Life

  • Name

    I fully agree. My biggest source of education has been the University of Life

  • Bernard von Schulmann

    Try Lego Mindstorms for cool robots……

  • Bernard von Schulmann

    Try Lego Mindstorms for cool robots……

  • Pascal Bourguignon

    Well, you can always write down as education: Master Degree, University of Life.

  • 112864

    so, why are you complaining about that 85%, it’s justified, and why it matter anyway, just validate some interesting course on coursera to make some fake education if you really care about that percentage

  • http://www.phillipharrington.com/ Phillip Harrington

    I hearby grant you a degree in Ass Kicking from the Herbert A. Ardknocks school of life. Put that down. I did for a while; may still have it up there.

  • Daniel Walmsley

    One solution you could just get a degree to complete your profile?

  • leek

    I just say I’m “Self-Taught”. That’s my “degree”. I’ve worked many Ph.D.-level positions despite dropping out of college. Most people don’t give a shit about degree, after the initial interview.