THE BLOG
01/23/2013 01:22 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

As a First-Year College Student, Should I Just Focus on School?

I am a first year student, and I caught the entrepreneurial bug. But I am a first year computer science student. Currently, I am low-intermediate programmer at best and all my great ideas seem to be over my level of technical expertise. Do you think I should just quit trying for now and focus on learning or keep trying to find something that I can do now?

This question originally appeared on Quora.
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Answer by Michael Wolfe, CEO, Pipewise, Inc.

You only have a short time to be in school and to enjoy everything that comes along with it. Adulthood lasts a long time. And presumably you want to start a company in order to build a better life in some way, but let me suggest that, as a college student, you already have a pretty awesome life right now.

I'd also add that not having a degree will limit your career options down the road, unless you are the future Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg and have already built the next billion dollar company in your dorm room, which it sounds like you have not done yet.

Here is what I recommend:

  • Spend the next four years socializing, partying, making friends, and simply enjoying the college experience. You will never get it back if you don't.
  • Get to know as many people as possible, both for your personal and professional networks. You'll still know many of those people 30 or 40 years from now, and when you start a company it will probably be with them.
  • Travel - do a semester abroad, spend a summer Eurorailing, learn a language. It is both an incredible experience plus gives you some valuable credentials.
  • Become an awesome computer scientist - work hard, study, become a TA. Ace the curriculum. You'll find few startup founders who aren't really good at something, so this is a great thing to be good at.
  • Take some product design courses. Most startups are less about writing the code for the product and more about knowing what product to build and how that product interacts with the user.
  • Learn how to work in a team - do project courses, contribute to open source projects. Learn software engineering (note: many computer science programs don't teach software engineering).
  • Do well in the rest of your studies. Learn to work. Learn discipline.
  • Take summer internships, focusing on workplaces where you think you will learn the most, maybe even at a startup.
  • Learn public speaking, take a few business classes, and get a job where you need to sell or speak in public a lot  - teach, become a waiter, student government, debate team, etc.
  • Follow the startup industry, maybe do a few side projects or contribute to open source projects. But not to the detriment of school.
  • After you graduate, either start something or join a place where you'll learn the most.
Good luck, you are in for a huge adventure! More questions on Career Advice: