IB student chooses to skip college to pursue career

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Denton High School junior Miles O’Keefe is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate. His father is a professor at Texas Woman’s University, and his mother is the director of the services department at TWU.

But he’s not going to college.

O’Keefe wants to be a programmer. After high school, he will move to San Francisco to pursue his dream.

An innocent joke from his father started him down this path.

“Once I got the job I have now as a front-end web developer for a software company in Dallas, my dad asked if I even needed to go to college,” O’Keefe said. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized what it takes to get a job.”

O’Keefe then did some research on the value of college to hopeful programmers. He reached out to the start-up community and asked for their input.

“Some thought college was helpful, but all of them agreed that you can do the job without the degree,” O’Keefe said. “I even called the head architect of Mashable, and he said that he would always hire a person with four years of work experience over a person with just a college degree.”

O’Keefe said his parents would prefer that he go to college, but they see the reasoning behind his decision.

“I don’t like school, I don’t learn well in the school environment, and I don’t need a college degree for my career,” O’Keefe said.

He has his post-high school moves all mapped out.

“San Francisco is the mecca of the start-up world,” O’Keefe said. “I’ll work at a medium-sized start-up there.”

Kimberly Thaggard, an IB coordinator, thinks O’Keefe will be successful.

“Miles is a very intelligent and driven young man,” Thaggard said. “The IB program is designed to promote a university experience. That being said, to say all successful people went to college would not be accurate.”

To O’Keefe, all the schooling that he has completed, including his involvement in the IB program, has been valuable.

“If I weren’t in this exact circumstance, I wouldn’t be here,” O’Keefe said. “School wasn’t a waste. Learning these programming skills was me procrastinating school work, so it was part of the process.”

George Roberson is a senior at Denton High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” program for student journalists.

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