I stopped going to elementary school when I was eleven, and didn’t come back to school until shortly before I enrolled at DVC to take the high school proficiency exam in Japan when I was nineteen. Basically I missed out on the entire middle-high school education.
I did have some tutoring on Mathematics and English but I was a really bad student and never studied myself (I never stopped programming though; I wrote STL-like C library myself and attempted to write HTML/SGML/XML parser multiple times myself; I was accustomed to the idea of finite automate – CS164/CS172 topic – when I was thirteen to fourteen years old). I didn’t even know the equation of unit circle , which made me struggle through the software engineering certification exam I took back in 2004. Of course, I had never taken any physics other than to prepare for my high school proficiency exam in a bare four months.
When I went to DVC – a community college in Pleasant Hill, CA – I started my mathematics at Trigonometry because I barely knew algebra. Yup, that’s where I started my journey. Without taking any formal math classes for eight years, I started learning trig at DVC. I then took Pre-Calculus, Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Discrete Mathematics, upper-division Linear Algebra, and upper-division Probability along with four semesters of physics courses.
And where I did I end up? I ended up getting accepted by UCB, UCSC, UCSD, UCLA, UCI, and Cal-Tech as a transfer student and got a kick-ass internship and a full-time job at Google.
So if there is anyone out there who has been out of school for years and thinking that you’re too behind, etc… then don’t. You’re never too old or too behind to catch up because you’ve got a pretty solid counterexample right here.