Peter Thiel is rocking the boat of higher education. The libertarian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and co-founder of PayPal is sending liberal college administrators into a tizzy with his latest push to encourage young innovators to ditch college for two years and pursue entrepreneurship.
Last week, Thiel awarded 20 young people with “20 Under 20” Thiel Fellowships: $100,000 and two years of mentorship to develop entrepreneurial ventures in science and technology.
Thiel’s dismisses conventional wisdom, which says that college is the necessary next-step for success after high school. He understands that conventional wisdom is conventional ignorance now that the American university system is broken.
Today’s students pay bloated prices so universities can hire a fleets of non-academic staff to monitor student speech codes, distribute cookies in campus lounges and court elites like Bill Clinton to speak on-campus and warn young people never to believe: “There is no such thing as a good tax…”
Tuition is rising and debt loads are mounting while students at institutions as prestigious as Stanford’s Graduate School of Business are failing to learn basic skills. When Stanford graduate students rely on private coaches outside the classroom to teach them how to write for business, you know higher education is deteriorating.
I took a hybrid route for my own higher education. I went to college and started an entrepreneurial venture at the same time. My path was unique and challenging, so I understand first-hand that Thiel is offering young entrepreneurs the opportunity of a lifetime.
In college, your liberal arts professors may provide you with tips on how to outline your thoughts, but they generally expect that you already know how to give a 10-minute presentation or write a 15-page paper. Meanwhile, your business professors do not teach you how to run a business. Rather, they lecture you on business models, assign you to read case studies and tell you to look for an internship.