Student loan debt has grown to the trillions and that number doesn’t look to decline as the cost of education continues to rise and having a degree is the only way most people know to improve their job prospects. However, in this technological age with college dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg making billions, young entrepreneurs are beginning to ask themselves: Do I really need college to succeed? Peter Thiel doesn’t think so. The Huffington Post explains:
Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, created the Thiel Foundation. Last fall, it announced a new fellowship program: It would give 20 people under the age of 20 $100,000 to drop out of school and become world-changing visionaries.
“The established path is always to stay and finish school,” said Yu, who was among the 24 chosen winners. He wants to build a price-comparison service for online consumers to locate the cheapest products in the shortest amount of time. “For me, there was no reason to wait until I graduated to follow my dreams.”
The only condition of Thiel’s two-year fellowship is that all fellows commit full-time to making their ideas work. Simultaneously being enrolled in college is forbidden.
“These fellows are going to bring significant new ideas to a wide range of technical and scientific fields in ways that will change the industries and improve people’s quality of life,” said Jim O’Neill, who runs the Thiel Foundation. “Every field benefits from smart, driven new players.”
The Thiel Fellowship gets at the heart of Thiel’s basic complaint about higher education – namely, that going to college gets in the way of entrepreneurship. He also believes that a higher education bubble threatens to dismantle the entire enterprise.