What 73 Technologists Wish They Had Learned in High School

The Backstory

I work for Bitwise Industries and Geekwise Academy, a technology education company in Fresno, California. For the past two years, we have partnered with Patino School of Entrepreneurship by providing custom courses and curriculum. The “E. School” is a completely free public “pathway” school through Fresno Unified School District. Patino is a different type of school, one I haven’t seen before.

High Schoolers begin to learn technology development skills (Javascript, PHP, SEO, SEM) and form business plans with other students. All of the classes are taught with a business and entrepreneurship lens. For example, in History, while learning about WWII, students might ask the question, “Yes he was evil but what leadership traits did Hitler utilize to come into power? How can we learn?” In Math, students are asked to find the ROI for a company. All classes are in preparation for their senior year.

Essentially the program breaks down like so:

  • Year One: Learn Entrepreneurship Traits
  • Year Two: Start Business Plans, MVP, and Pitch to Investors (real life SharkTank)
  • Year Three: Bootstrap it till you make it or die trying

Senior year is an incubator for their company. We ain’t talking about no fake companies either, like the high school projects we remember. They launch real freaking companies and make real freaking money, well at least that is the goal. Oh yeah, and they get to keep the profits. Imagine making money to pay for their college tuition while in high school. Freaking crazy.

This year, I have been co-leading the advanced online marketing and web development classes where Juniors begin to execute their plans. At the school the staff pushes experimentation, being okay with failure, ideation, pivoting, and pitching constantly.  But I wanted to know are we missing something? What are some lessons that other technologies and entrepreneurs wish they would have learned in high school? So that give me an idea, fire-up the old twitter machine and ask new followers a few questions.

What did I ask?

Through DM on Twitter, I sent hundreds of technologists and developers this message:

“Random question, I work with 70+ high school entrepreneurs. Do you have any life lessons / business advice / things you wish you would have learned in high school? I am always trying to get better and pass on inspiration.”

What happened next was remarkable.

My DM campaign got roughly a 16.67 engagement rate and participants delivered crazy insights. Most importantly it gave way to a lot of wonderful discussions. During our talks, I started to notice a few trends. Responses could be clumped into six different categories:

  • Younger: The wish that they would have started learning at a younger age
  • Network: The wish they would have learned to come better networkers or have built a better network
  • Movement: The wish they would have learned how to persevere and to continue moving forward
  • Finances: The wish they would have learned the importance of personal finances
  • Fear/Failure: Learn to overcome the fear of failure. Embracing failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Other: Other meaningful responses

So what were the results?

  • 10.6% of the respondents wish high school taught them more about personal finances.
  • 12.76% wish they had better networks or started creating one sooner in life.
  • 12.76% would have liked to learn how to stay motivated and continue pushing through hard times.
  • 17% admit that they wish they would have started sooner in life be it programming, or business development.
  • 23.4% wish they would have been able to fail more, to overcome the fear of failure, and to learn that “failure” isn’t bad.
  • 23.4% of the responses don’t fall into a direct category.

Out of the 73 respondents:

  • 53% were identified as “Developers”
  • 25% were identified as “Technologists”
  • 19% were identified as “Front-end Developers”
  • 1% were identified as “Back-end Developers”
  • 1% were identified as “Other”

Some of the notable DMS.

Like this not so scientific study? Please share this infographic 🙂