For some reason, this upsets the left. A Slate.com writer called Thiel's grant a "nasty idea" that leads students into "halting their intellectual development ... maintaining a narrow-minded focus on getting rich."
But Darren Zhu, a grant winner who quit Yale for the $100,000, told me, "Building a start-up and learning the sort of hardships that are associated with building a company is a much better education path."
I agree. Much better. Zhu plans to start a biotech company.
What puzzles is me is why the market doesn't punish colleges that don't serve their customers well. The opposite has happened: Tuitions have risen four times faster than inflation.
"There's a lot of bad information out there," Vedder replied. "We don't know ... if (students) learned anything" during their college years.
"Do kids learn anything at Harvard? People at Harvard tell us they do. ... They were bright when they entered Harvard, but do ... seniors know more than freshman? The literacy rate among college graduates is lower today than it was 15 or 20 year ago. It is kind of hard for people to respond in market fashion when you don't have full information."
Despite the scam, the Obama administration plans to increase the number of students getting Pell grants by 50 percent. And even a darling of conservatives, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, says college is a must: "Graduating from high school is just the first step."
We need to wake people up.