Peter Thiel, one of the cofounders of PayPal, is credited in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education with saying, essentially, that higher education may be overvalued in America. Theil, who today announced the names of the 24 students who would be dropping out of college to accept $100,000 cash awards as part of his new eponymous fellowship program, stated that college could be a mistake for some. The following clip comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
…Students today are taking on more debt, and recently tightened bankruptcy laws make it more difficult to shake that debt, he argues, and those factors make higher education a risky investment. “If you get this wrong, it’s actually a mistake that’s hard to undo for the rest of your life,” he said…
With tuition, room, and board coming in at over $60k a year at some schools, it’s not an unfair question, especially as well-paying entry-level jobs for college graduates are becoming more and more difficult to come by. Thiel was speaking specifically about entrepreneurially-inclined students, but, in today’s America, it’s a fair question for many. Can someone studying graphic design in college, for instance, expect to make enough when they get out to recoup their investment in a reasonable amount of time? It’s a question that more and more people are asking themselves these days.
The following comes from NPR’s coverage of the Thiel Fellowship:
…Some of the recipients are leaving first-rate institutions like Harvard and Stanford to take the fellowship. In a press release, the foundation’s head, James O’Neill, said that in taking the fellowship they were “challenging the authority of the present and the familiar.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Thiel thinks ideas can develop in a start-up environment much faster than at a university. And the project is also intended to question the idea of higher education. Thiel told TechCrunch in April that the United Sates was in a higher education bubble.
“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he told Techcrunch. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus”…
I’d like to go on and write a bit about all of these new Law Schools and the like that are popping up due to the fact that student loans are easy to come by, without any regard for the fact that their graduates likely won’t find work, but it’s late, and I’ve got to read about Newt Gingrich’s love of high-end jewelry.