We’ve got a college-related Today’s Question right now.
On Thursday I posted a Notes in the Margins link to a story about how Peter Thiel — founder of the libertarian Thiel Foundation, as well as cofounder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook — has offered some young folks $100,000 to develop their entrepreneurial ideas instead of going to college.
He doesn’t seem to hold much stock in education, finding it “overvalued,” and thinks the economy would benefit more through innovation if young people could channel their energy and ideas into new businesses.
College, the foundation says, just produces conformists looking for safe careers.
When a San Francisco Chronicle writer asked 18-year-old prize winner John Burnham whether he’s worried that he’ll miss out on learning by not going to college, Burnham told him it was “a really amusing question” and added:
“That speaks to the assumption that what happens in college is pure, unadulterated learning. A lot of colleges are not, in my opinion, ideal places to get that really applied, hands on learning that I feel is necessary for this project.”
It sounds like the Thiel offer rests on the assumption that college is for building an economy — not for forming a person’s world view, moral background or critical-thinking skills.
Would you take $100,000 to forgo college?
One reader, BJ, would snatch it up in a heartbeat:
“As someone without a degree I would say heck yes. I have started 3 businesses if I had capital of that amount I’m sure that one of them would have been huge. Sometimes a person is ready at 17 or 18 to build a business. We are talking about a select group of people that already proven they want to do somthing. It’s not like they are randomly picking people.”
And Brandy said:
“Owning your own business is one of the few jobs left which really doesn’t require a college education. If a person has the drive to provide good customer service and has a strong work ethic, she or he can make it big.”
Yet others said they never could have handled the responsibility of starting a business at that age, and that college opened their eyes to a whole new world — as well as a “dream job.”
“Being a first generation college grad I had no idea what careers or possibilities were out there when I finished high school. I was simply never exposed to the world of business or science or anything other than retail or building trades. I had no network of connections. There is no way I could have found my career without college.”