The best mistake I ever made
I originally wrote this as an answer on Quora to the question “How did one small decision change your entire life?”
In 1990 I was applying to colleges. I had a love of computers and writing, but I decided to abandon computers because being a geek in high school was so unrewarding. I applied to three ‘big name’ schools (Harvard, Stanford, and MIT), UC schools (Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD), and three small liberal arts colleges (Oberlin, Swarthmore, and Carleton). Carleton was far and away my first choice. I’d visited the campus and found the small but focused liberal arts culture to be exactly what I was looking for. Located about 40 miles south of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Northfield, Minnesota, I thought I’d also find an experience very different than the life I had in the San Fernando Valley.
I asked two of my favorite teachers to write my college recommendations. Teaching English and
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