Can and should my talented technophile nephew get a job at a company like Google instead of going to college?
My nephew will be 17 in November. He will be graduating a year early from high school this spring because of all the computer classes he took at the local community college as well as at a very prestigious university. He has been doing computer programming since the age of 11. He knows many programming languages, frameworks, tools, environments, etc. with varying degrees of depth. He has worked on mobile devices, desktops, servers, and various operating systems (mostly iOS, OS X, and Linux). He has dabbled with networking. He has interned at a company for several years doing some coding work related to management of a certain business process. He has developed his own iPhone apps as well as iPhone apps with collaborators. He's an easy-going and very likable kid.
He has applied to colleges and will hear from them soon, but the question mark about going to college is that he really doesn't love school very much. He gets OK grades but not top grades, and part of the reason is because he doesn't put in the effort. He's not a perfectionist so it doesn't bother him not to get all As even if he is capable of that.
My thinking is that if he doesn't love school, is there really much point in him getting a college degree if he's got so much experience and capability already in the field he wants to work in. Sure, college will teach him how to learn, and will expose him to lots of different things, but if he's not really into it, I question how much he will get out of it and what the opportunity cost will be of starting a career later than he could potentially start earlier. He clearly already has great capabilities when it comes to learning software engineering skills and applying them.
So my specific questions are:
- Based on what I said above, might it not be better just to jump into a full time career as a software developer after he graduates from high school? Does he really need the pedigree or education of a college degree to succeed in such a career? This recent article
in the NY Times would seem to indicate that he doesn't need a degree.
- Is he too young to get a job at a major technology company like Google (not necessarily Google itself) in terms of age, experience, pedigree, maturity, etc.? Do they have a hard cutoff in terms of the youngest age person they will hire? He's obviously not as mature as an older person in certain ways, but in other ways such as his focus and communication skills when talking about technology, he is remarkably mature.
Thanks for some input.