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PayPal Co-Founder Gives Out $100,000 To Not Go To College

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the a-rich-man-goes-to-college-and-a-poor-man-goes-to-work dept.

Education 418

Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel says the key to quicker business innovation is skipping college. His foundation is handing out $100,000 to 24 people under 20 to drop out of college for two years and start companies. From the press release: "As the first members of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, the Fellows will pursue innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow. During their two-year tenure, each Fellow will receive $100,000 from the Thiel Foundation as well as mentorship from the Foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs and innovators. The project areas for this class of fellows include biotech, career development, economics and finance, education, energy, information technology, mobility, robotics, and space."

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So tell me (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250462)

Has he gotten $2 million worth of publicity from this stunt yet?

Re:So tell me (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250484)

No, but he'll prevent some of his future competitors from being more educated than him.

Re:So tell me (2)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250598)

The skills that college teaches are different from those that are used in industry. college taught me less about best practices, like source controller or TDD, and more about abstract concepts of computing, like classes in comparative languages and operating system. the skills are from two difference perspective, both perspective are useful and aren't necessarily are mutually exclusive.

Re:So tell me (3, Insightful)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250724)

It's even valuable to get a degree not entirely related to what you want to do. If this guy feels that college stifles innovation, why not encourage people to get degrees in things they enjoy? Get a degree in history, and focus on businesses of the past. Now, you're an expert in what works and what doesn't, over long-term, history-writing years. Get a degree in a foreign language, and open up more countries you can work with effectively. Get a degree in anything, and learn to think!

Re:So tell me (4, Insightful)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250770)

Maybe he feels like student loans hold people back from starting new businesses... compelling people to get a full time job as soon as possible. Just a thought.

Re:So tell me (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250812)

Maybe he feels like student loans hold people back from starting new businesses... compelling people to get a full time job as soon as possible. Just a thought.

If so, he could just pay the college for those people, instead of paying them for not going to college.

Re:So tell me (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250844)

I got a degree in what I love. Now I make good money doing what I love. I remember a classmate telling me how they hated every aspect of the same degree. They loathed it. I asked why they were in the major. They wanted the money. "Get degrees in things they enjoy?" Ditto. Also, don't assume there has to be a degree for what you enjoy. Don't assume you have to pursue a college diploma to be great in business and life. College is an just an option.

Re:So tell me (4, Insightful)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250726)

These days, you don't go to college to get an education. You go to college to get a piece of paper that gets you a job.

When that's the mentality, everyone has the assumption that you have to go to college to get a job, everyone goes to college, and college standards have to be lowered to give everyone an equal opportunity. At the same time, colleges have realized what a cash cow "educations" are and have been jacking up rates [seekingalpha.com] like no man's business. Let me tell you another secret. I went to GT for my bachelor's degree. Everything that I learned came from my own studying. I could have sat in my basement with textbooks and a computer, table, and desk lamp and learned the same materials because I was always either in the classroom or library anyway. Nothing special about these places. The only "special" thing required is to have a curriculum designed which amounts to little more than having a syllabus. Trade secrets from the professor? Didn't learn any. The lecturer's PowerPoint slides? Please. The few lab resources that I actually used? Sorry, but I had a more capable lab built by the time I was a sophomore with funds from my summer/part-time jobs and purchasing old equipment on eBay.

I'm still $42k in debt, and the wife is going crazy about it. I think that Pete Thiel is trying to make the statement that this whole college process is completely haywire and that you don't need a college degree to be successful. Just some intelligence, creativity, some books, and a desire to learn on one's own and a drive to innovate. But what would I know having been through this twice already?

Re:So tell me (1, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250864)

IF you want to be an executive? he is 100% correct.

All you need to do is schmooze and network to get your name known by rich people. Abilities and skills are not important, It's who you know not what you know.

If you want to be a productive citizen that actually does things? College is a good idea.

Re:So tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250950)

This is the sound of an SR-71 flying five hundred feet off the ground overhead at mach 2 after the initial shockwave of truth hits you square in the face...
 
WWWWHHHHHOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
 
Do you work in admissions? Or for the "College Board?" :)

Re:So tell me (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251094)

This is the sound of an SR-71 flying five hundred feet off the ground overhead at mach 2 after the initial shockwave of truth hits you square in the face... WWWWHHHHHOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Do you work in admissions? Or for the "College Board?" :)

So, are you saying that the SR-71 couldn't have been built without BS, MS and PhD engineers? Or did I miss your point?

Re:So tell me (4, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251024)

I agree about the pointless brain-dead professional manager types that turn up everywhere. However:

If you want to be a productive citizen that actually does things? College is a good idea.

Education is a good idea. College is fine but it's only one way to get an education.

Re:So tell me (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251218)

I Disagree,

Most productive citizens get college degrees because the job that they want to do asks for it. Do most of those jobs really need a college degree... No. However companies ask for college degrees not because the crap they learned is that much more valuable, but because it shows they are willing to stick it out and get the degree besides having to take a bunch of pre-requisite classes that bore them to tears, but they are hard working and ambitious enough to finish the job.

The schmoozers and networking people who get rich more often then not fail after a quick start, as they are put into a position where failure is measured. (unless they are in political office)

Executives I have found are often working much harder then any employee in the organization.

What college *REALLY* teaches you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36251122)

These days, you don't go to college to get an education. You go to college to get a piece of paper that gets you a job.

In college, you actually end up teaching yourself all the actual knowledge stuff.

What going through the college education process actually teaches you, however, is how to successfully deal with tons and tons of total bullshit relentlessly thrown at you all at once, and how to be able to get through all of it.... well actually you end up teaching that to yourself too. But basically, in the end, getting a college degree proves that you've been able to navigate through all kinds of stuff and manage yourself as a resource to complete multiple simultaneous daunting tasks and unreasonable workloads, and have demonstrated that ability on a verifiable paper trail. ...and that's what the corporate world wants to know before they hand you a career-level position.

Re:So tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250738)

Education isn't the only predictor for economic success. This stunt selects on two more: Greed and ego. (He pays people to drop out, so he also selects on education). College can make people terribly aware of their imperfections. In a sense college is like eating from the tree of knowledge. Much innocent "can do" spirit has been wasted by the realization that you're woefully unprepared.

Stifling innovation (1)

mallyn (136041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250474)

College stifling innovation? Is that the feeling here? There are schools that do encourage innovation and project type education. Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass. is one of them.

Re:Stifling innovation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250706)

It's certainly the feeling I have. Colleges are money making machines not concerned with education or innovation. Just making money at the expense of those suckered by their marketing departments. I wish I never went to college as I learned very little and was left with massive debt, and no degree at the end. Drexel University's money making schemes, changes in policy, course cancellations, and overbilling resulted in another year of tuition due, which I could not afford after being in for $127,000 already. To make matters worse, having a 3.9 GPA and being on the dean's list did nothing to get any scholarships or assistance with the insane tuition costs which increased $16,000 in 3 years. Such is life when you already have a decent job in your field upon going back to finish a degree. The biggest and most expensive mistake of my life was going to school.

Re:Stifling innovation (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250798)

I usually say I learned very little at Uni too. I got my basic CompSci degree first, then dropped out in my honours year to start working because I was getting completely fed up of Uni. Here in the UK we don't get charged for tuition though, so I just had to pay a £2000 "graduation fee" or something like that (which they only introduced the year I left). I did end up with a ~£14K student loan to pay off though (my dad died 6 weeks before I started Uni and so my financial situation ended up a bit worse than anticipated).

Re:Stifling innovation (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250970)

Even the corporate/prift driven schools create a framework for innovation. I went to a tech college for a while. An interesting experience, but the non-teaching faculty was far more concerned with profit margins than education. And there were a lot of kids who skated by doing the bare minimum and they got crap for the money they paid.

But there were quite a few kids who took the opportunities to push themselves. To take the framework of the class and to seek out challenges. The same kids who could excell giving $100,000 to start a business are the same kids who are going to excell given a more free form college experience.

But lets face it, most freshman year colleges (be it voc or uni) are not "free form". They are ridgid, they are sitting in lecture halls, they are doing the rote work that isn't entertaining of challenging. Getting to the upper classes where there is more independence and the students are more mature, you see a whole different college experience. And this guy is recommending kid to bail, after they've completed the worst of it (IMO).

-Rick

Re:Stifling innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250974)

I think the feeling is that massive debt prevents people from becoming entrepreneurs. People graduate college with debt. They then get a job so they make payments. By the time they pay off school debt they have kids and a morgage.

Hmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250476)

I wonder how many people with college degrees they will hire

Neat! (5, Insightful)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250480)

That's forward thinking right there! Why beat the competition if you can pay them a pittance to fail outright early in life?

Re:Neat! (2)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250650)

Yeah, good point. These students should avoid failure by blowing $150k in college to qualify for a entry level job. Much more successful.

Re:Neat! (5, Interesting)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250822)

These students should avoid failure by blowing $150k in college to qualify for a entry level job. Much more successful.

Whenever I see this I have to ask, "what posessed that young student to go to an out-of-state college"?

I mean, I am right now attending college part time (trying to convert an awful associates to a full bachelors). Im just finished freshman / sophmore levels at a community college at a whopping $95 per credit hour, and will be going to a state university this fall at an astounding $500 per credit hour. My bill at the end of all of this will be less than $45000, for a full bachelors degree.

I could, of course, have chosen to go to an out-of-state ritzy school like Georgetown, lived on campus, and blown $45000 per semester... but then, I really wouldnt have anyone else to blame for my debt but myself, would I?

Re:Neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250962)

Maybe they live in Alabama or Mississippi?

Re:Neat! (2)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250884)

I would hope that if you're dropping $150k on college, you're ready to start a lucrative career in something. If you don't, however, have plans to do anyting big, $150k is probably way too much to be spending on school.

Anyway, the failure rate of new businesses is MUCH higher than that of college graduates.

Re:Neat! (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250818)

I'm amusing that the summary means $100,000 for each person, not $5000 each. Even so you can't do that much with $100k. Maybe get one really low wage member of staff and rent on a shipping container sized room for a year (obviously you have to pay yourself too).

PayPal is hardly a good example of a successful company either, because no-one would use it unless forced to by eBay. It is far and away the worst way to buy or sell online, the website is slow and poorly designed, the system insecure and they are constantly bombarded by legal claims from punters who got ripped off.

Re:Neat! (1, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250946)

If you cant turn that $100,000 into $1,000,000 in investments and startup capitol in 3 months you're a failure. This is the new internet business.. The guy is not looking for someone to start a traditional mom and pop small business. He is looking to fund the next cut-throat scam artist bullshitter that can make big promises and talk others into working for free or working for a promise of the big pie that is just around the corner (Think Zuckerberg) Some pan out like facebook. Some fall on their face like pets.com... It's a crap shoot. $100,000 can make you look like you are serious so you can ease the worries of investors. YOU look like you have a real stake in it. Where in reality, these people will not.

That is what this guy is about. Not honest business like most people think about.

Re:Neat! (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251186)

You really should check out the people who got awarded the 100k, then. Unless you're already a billionaire, it's pretty hard to say they're failures - in fact, the reverse is much more likely to be true. The 100k is given to people who don't need the college education.

To Drop Out, not "Not to Go" (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250490)

When I first saw this on Fark I got excited that he was going to give people money to do an apprenticeship or maybe start their own hands on company. No, he's paying people that he hopes will be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. We need a whole lot more of the former and a whole lot less of the latter.

Re:To Drop Out, not "Not to Go" (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250834)

the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. We need a whole lot more of the former and a whole lot less of the latter.

I'd be happy with neither tbh.

Re:To Drop Out, not "Not to Go" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250886)

Monopoly needs to regularly be broken from higher powers for a "free market" to survive.

Re:To Drop Out, not "Not to Go" (1)

chispito (1870390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250852)

When I first saw this on Fark I got excited that he was going to give people money to do an apprenticeship or maybe start their own hands on company. No, he's paying people that he hopes will be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. We need a whole lot more of the former and a whole lot less of the latter.

Wait... which is the former? An Apprentice, or Bill Gates?

Re:To Drop Out, not "Not to Go" (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251206)

Mind explaining the distinction between between Gates and Zuckerberg that you're trying to highlight? Is it a personal judgment or are you valuing the products that the corresponding companies have put out? Because if it is personal... seems to me that both characters have a lot in common. As for the products it is more difficult to judge. Personally, I think the PC was held back for a long long time by DOS and, then, early versions of Windows which Gates brought to the scene. DOS was a shitty excuse for operating system from the start and remained dominant on the PC for far too long without ever really improving while companies like Commodore (AmigaOS), Apple (MacOS), and even IBM (OS/2) were doing much more interesting and innovative things. Imagine if they weren't held back by Microsoft's dominance in the OS market. Sure, Windows is an acceptable operating system now (it is mostly stable, finally), but that's only after 2 decades of utter crap. I'm not sure the world needs more Gateses. They're no better than the Zuckerbergs anyway.

Because nobody with a degree ever had an idea? (2)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250494)

Seems like a gimmick, to me. You know, as opposed to an innovative idea.

Re:Because nobody with a degree ever had an idea? (3, Interesting)

serano (544693) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250622)

He argues from the fact that a few people buck the trend and succeed despite dropping out of school. That does not mean they succeeded because they did not go to school. That's like Oprah getting up on her final show and saying she owed her success to her prayers to Jesus. Well tens of thousands of people around her prayed too and none of them were up there, so that logic should mean prayer failed in nearly every case rather than prayer is what made her succeed. Looking at the exceptions without looking at all the factors that actually made them exceptional is a big error here.

Re:Because nobody with a degree ever had an idea? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250808)

Presumably they are not simply using a hat. So they may end up with a few exceptional people.

Funny Thing (5, Informative)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250502)

For a guy who's claiming that college impedes innovation, Peter Thiel sure had a lot of it. He has a BA in Philosophy and a Juris Doctor from Stanford.

Re:Funny Thing (3, Interesting)

Toksyuryel (1641337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250588)

Which means he's fully qualified to claim it did him absolutely no good, having actually gone through and done it.

Re:Funny Thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250644)

Often it is the case to think your education did you little good. But it takes a wise person to see the impact that it has on their life. Education is about more than learning facts. Its about acquiring the right attitudes and skills that will help keep you educated long after the knowledge you gained is outdated.

Re:Funny Thing (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250920)

I did a lot more self study before I went to University. When I went, it kind of sucked away my enjoyment of learning somewhat. It's only now, 6 years after finishing Uni, that I've seriously considered doing programming for fun again, rather than just as my job.

Re:Funny Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250648)

With a BA in philosophy I can understand why he would think that.

Re:Funny Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250674)

And one of his two is worthless.

Sure you can goto college. But philosophy? Seriously? Not exactly a useful degree.

Re:Funny Thing (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250968)

Well duh.. BA in philosophy.... WTF use is that other than to get the "has degree" box checked on the resume.

Re:Funny Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250700)

While I agree the Philosophy degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on a law degree will undoubtedly help in business. While it is possible to learn these things outside of college it is much easier to learn from professionals who's job it is to teach rather then learning it on your own.

Re:Funny Thing (1)

hardie (716254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250860)

No wonder he doesn't think college is useful with degrees like that!

Everyone is missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36251176)

It's not that College is worthless; it's that college isn't worth the cost anymore.

College costs have gotten so out of hand that it'll be very hard to make enough to warrant the education. Is a college education really worth $40K or more?

not a whole lot of money (2)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250510)

100,000 dollars really isn't that much money.

Re:not a whole lot of money (3, Interesting)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250640)

It is if you're a 20 year old trying to get a generic business loan from a bank for the next hottest social networking fad instead of $5-$20k of student loans at a state/community college. Hello bankruptcy. But I guess the idea behind this experiment is you'd get the money from a VC. And if a VC wants to give you huge amounts of money for a likely lesson in failure, I see no problem with letting them take the risk. You can always re-enroll after 2 years.

Re:not a whole lot of money (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251088)

No it's not. 100k over 2 years, and now you're not a student so you can't be claimed as a dependent under your parents anymore for health insurance. This is equivalent to starting a job post-graduation on a 50k a year salary (before taxes and now health/life/dental/vision/retirement). So what's the real dollar amount? you just got yourself a job at about 25k a year, otherwise known as poverty (when you also have to pay startup expenses). This is truly retarded, unless you can start to turn a profit within 2 years.

Re:not a whole lot of money (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250692)

100k when you are 19 is a boatload of money.

Re:not a whole lot of money (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250966)

It's not a lot of money to start an "innovative company" no matter how old you are. Let's start from the premise that you can live on 20K a year as a 20 year old with very little responsibility, and a willingness to eat a lot of Ramen. Let's further assume that a "next great technology" company is going to need, at a minimum, 20k worth of servers, at least one decent workstations (2K), Hosting (At least a few hundred dollars a month for a reliable colo service with a redundant high speed pipe, redundant power, etc). You could easily burn through more than half of that money in the first few months before you even have something that might be called a product, let alone a product that makes money. Gods forbid you try to get someone to help you. Whether they're a "partner" or an "employee" they're going to need money to live on too.

This isn't a hundred K to live on and party for a couple years, it's a hundred K to build a business. Not just any business either, an innovative new business with spiffy products and new ideas.

Re:not a whole lot of money (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250708)

The fact that you become one of 20 people introduced to Peter Thiel's network, and get his support/promotion, is probably more valuable than the cash. Which is also why this isn't really a scalable replacement for college: he can do this for 20 people, maybe 50, but not thousands or millions.

Re:not a whole lot of money (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250978)

He's offering it to 20 somethings... that's a lot of pot, and one hell of a trip to burning man.

Re:not a whole lot of money (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251020)

Indeed.

My first innovative idea: Band together with the other 19 people and make use of the $2m you've been given.

Re:not a whole lot of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36251108)

Thats what I was thinking. Seems like giving away luck would be much more worthwhile.

Re:not a whole lot of money (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251130)

its about as much as that wallpaper will end up costing you, and you might have something more to show for it in the end

Re:not a whole lot of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36251136)

100,000 dollars really isn't that much money.

especially so in biotech. You might be able to do enough BLASTing and online comparative genomics searches to get some ideas on a project; but you're nowhere near the funding you'll need even for basic equipment, much less development of a product, animal trials, clinical trials etc....

But.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250518)

But isn't there a chance this could be taken by people who might fall out of college due to bad grades anyway? So nothing of value is lost to the students.

Timothy Leary revisited? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250524)

If I had $100,000 (1)

enterix (5252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250530)

I would go back to college! I wish I had money to continue my education...

china grows larger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250536)

... and that's how china overtakes US in engineering.

irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250538)

perhaps some more seat time in a classroom would benefit whomever decided to have 24 members of something called 20 under 20....

Bad Deal? Good Deal? (2)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250558)

The net present value of a college degree in the U.S. is greater than $100,000 plus the two years of tuition saved. However, if you were going to drop out anyway, it's a good deal. Or, if you can drop out for a minimum period of time, take the gamble, then go back, it might be a somewhat good deal.

Re:Bad Deal? Good Deal? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250720)

No, that's (at best) the net present value of the difference in earnings between the average holder of a college degree and the average person who doesn't have one. The two groups of people are not equivalent in ambition or intelligence, which is what Thiel is counting on.

In some fields, education is essential - engineering isn't really something you can pick up on the side these days. But not all fields are like that. In particular, you'll learn a lot more about business from running one than from going to school about how to run one - there isn't a huge base of knowledge you have to acquire before you can even begin to benefit from being around people who do it every day. Besides, you can always go back and learn accounting later if you find you need to know it personally.

Re:Bad Deal? Good Deal? (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250866)

The two groups of people are not equivalent in ambition or intelligence, which is what Thiel is counting on.

No, that's what he ensured in his group. He got applications from 400 of the most talented and motivated students from all over the world, and took the best of those. He's starting with a range of people, some who already have degrees, some who already have businesses, some who have had all the opportunities in the world and are already doing great. One of the kids already wrote an autobiography!

So he's starting with this self selected pool of geniuses, giving them $100 grand, mentorship, and probably all the space and resources they need, and in two years the shocker is going to be that these kids were successful? But what does this prove about education? What does this say to someone who hasn't had a lot of opportunities and is deciding whether or not to go to college?

Re:Bad Deal? Good Deal? (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250756)

Luckily they haven't yet learnt to calculate the net present value.

Though, in all fairness, NPV can be quite subjective, and modeling it for any reasonable period of time makes it extremely sensitive to the estimated variables. Most of which when estimated, have really low correlation coefficients.

University is a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250932)

The deal here is that people are going to college for the wrong reasons. They believe that it will help them get a good job and help them make more money in the long run.

The problem here is that it's a lie. The chances of them making more money is good, but it's not that much more. It's certainly less then what it is going to cost to pay off student debt.

People that make a lot more money then non-university degrees are people that go to university for 6-8 years, not just the four to get a standard degree.

People coming out of college now are given worthless computer science educations. They are utterly clueless about how to deal with real world situations and real world computer systems. Large scale computer systems are not designed, they are dirty and thrown together by people with genius level intelligence and continuously developed by people with average intelligence. Lots of problems, lots of bugs, lots of bad design.

If you take a average computer science major and throw them into the situation they will unfailing just thrash about for 6 months to a year unlearning all the bullshit they were taught in school. This costs corporations a huge amount of money to train these college people and give them real educations that they need... which is on the job training.

On top of that they are arrogant and will refuse to understand what is going on since they are thinking they know better.

A person with a lot of drive and is willing to put a huge amount of time, effort, and risk into their carriers when they can afford too... (right after highschool) will have a huge advantage over people with a four year degree. University isn't a bad idea... it's just if your going there to get a good job after it then your deluding yourself.

Plus they are amazingly over priced.

For the utility of it and what it is worth in the market place: University 4 year degree should cost about 3000-7000 dollars, depending on what your doing. Books should be free and provided for by Universities on the web. If you take out loans that means you'll probably end up paying about 9k-15k for that degree, since the interest is going to be painful. If you work part time you can have it paid off the day you graduate.

That is how it SHOULD be.

Now the market is distorted and students are being lied to by the educational system. It's a joke.

Nowadays a university degree means a 70 thousand dollars worth of debt and a job at a coffee house making 10 dollars a hour. Or making 15 dollars a hour being some low level code janitor.

Why? Because that is all a college graduate is worth in the market place. A 4 year degree may get you past the idiots in human resource, but nobody working on real systems... and certainly not your boss, is going to give a flying fuck.

THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR DEGREE.

There are very literally managers that will NOT hire people if they have a lot of education. Because they can't tolerate their bullshit attitudes and have no time to train these people.

Source:
15 years of real world experience.

Different cases, different people (4, Interesting)

morcego (260031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250560)

This is just stupid. Yes, some people will do better starting a company instead of going to college (myself included), but that is not the rule, that is the exception.
The vast majority will do worst if they drop college to start a company. Heck, most will crash and burn starting a company even after college.
The numbers of factor determining "success without/instead of college" is staggering, and it is not about $100k (heck, I did it with a quarter of that).

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250570)

I agree with him... while it doesn't work for everybody the best engineers I know are all self educated. Unlike a lot of the college educated ones they are very passionate about what they are doing and are more inclined to do more. Just my 2 cents...

PHB Factory Go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250602)

Wow, start a business with only rudimentary knowledge out the gate means hiring competent underlings and becoming a useless tit in an even shorter period of time than normal.

*slow clap*

There's some validity to this idea. (1)

GrpA (691294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250612)

University/College is only an educational institute. It teaches you nothing that you can't learn yourself in your chosen field through self-study and research.

But if you do choose to attend later, after you gain some real-world experience, you have a much better capacity to understand and learn what it is you are being taught.

That has some real value.

GrpA

Re:There's some validity to this idea. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250778)

University/College is only an educational institute. It teaches you nothing that you can't learn yourself in your chosen field through self-study and research.

College gives you:
  - A well stocked library
  - A ready made peer group, with whom you can discuss the subjects
  - A structured approach to the content
  - Ready access to experts (tutors, lecturers and professors)
  - time

Re:There's some validity to this idea. (1)

JustSomeProgrammer (1881750) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250892)

Not to mention I would never let someone operate on me who didn't go to college.

Re:There's some validity to this idea. (1, Insightful)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250940)

University/College is only an educational institute. It teaches you nothing that you can't learn yourself in your chosen field through self-study and research.

College gives you:

  - A well stocked library

  - A ready made peer group, with whom you can discuss the subjects

  - A structured approach to the content

  - Ready access to experts (tutors, lecturers and professors)

  - time

Internet is a better stocked library. Where you can find a greater amount of peers with similar interests. With many levels of structure to match your own learning preferences. With actual experts amongst your peers in open source participation (maybe also in university but in colleges? no way). And you'll have plenty of time for all that when you drop out of college.

Re:There's some validity to this idea. (1)

paintballer1087 (910920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251002)

As a current student, I'll have to disagree with you...

College gives you: - A well stocked library

Full of textbooks that you bought for $200, most likely won't use again, and would sell, but the bookstore will only give you $10.

- A ready made peer group, with whom you can discuss the subjects

A majority of the students who really don't care about the class or material, they are just trying to get their diploma as quickly as possible.

- A structured approach to the content

Possibly, depending on the professor, though usually just reading through powerpoint slides in class, and following the books chapter by chapter.

- Ready access to experts (tutors, lecturers and professors)

Ok, I'll give you that, but there's not much I can get from them that I can't get elsewhere.

- time

I disagree here, I've found college to be a major timesink. In both the "required" courses that are unrelated to my field, and in those that insist on teaching me what I already know, like the "Computer Basics" class that everyone must take. How to turn on the computer, use a mouse, etc. I think the fact that I'm taking Cisco/Unix/C++ classes should negate that class, but no, it's required... Colleges are like any other business, they are trying to make money, they are not concerned with the quality of education, or what will actually help in the real world. They want to suck as much money out of students as they can.

Re:There's some validity to this idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36251016)

University/College is only an educational institute. It teaches you nothing that you can't learn yourself in your chosen field through self-study and research.

College gives you:

  - A well stocked library

Of textbooks with information that's a decade old at least ....

- A ready made peer group, with whom you can discuss the subjects

People who all drank that same Kool-Aid as you did; therefore getting no new opinions or information.

- A structured approach to the content

Slamming information down your throat so that you forget 90% the week after finals.

- Ready access to experts (tutors, lecturers and professors)

Experts?! Maybe in their very very very narrow field. And talking to them always ends being a condescending lecture from them.

- time

Time?

Re:There's some validity to this idea. (1)

Theotherguy_1 (1971460) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250954)

University/College is only an educational institute. It teaches you nothing that you can't learn yourself in your chosen field through self-study and research.

In theory, maybe. But I'm having a hard time envisioning learning all about the stability of linear time invariant ordinary differential equations or how to left-pseudo-invert a 7 dimensional Jacobian without being prodded along by a professor. The thing is, most of what I've had to learn in college has been dreadfully boring, but INCREDIBLY useful. I would never have learned these things outside of college, because I would never have been motivated enough to get past the title of the goddamn chapter. I personally have to be eased into these things to even know where to begin. I suspect that's true of most people.

But if you do choose to attend later, after you gain some real-world experience, you have a much better capacity to understand and learn what it is you are being taught.

That has some real value.

GrpA

Now this I agree with. That's why I would recommend an internship during the summer. Not dropping out. After I had my first real internship in the industry, I started to understand what all the weird mathematics were for, and it made my college career much easier.

College... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250620)

I skipped college, even though I went 4 years I also didn't get a diploma due to skipping a city council meeting that was oh so necessary for a diploma.

So I said fuck it, walked out, finished high school with .25 credits short of a diploma.

Made 70K/year before I turned 20. I'm younger than our college interns and I make 6 figures now. I absolutely *SCHOOL* them when it comes to any kind of development work or coding. They simply haven't done it yet despite having all this "college".

Being better at your job than the college guys has really helped me invalidate the need for a piece of paper. Without passion, stay in school. If you have true passion, drop the fuck out and make 6 figures already. It's about impressing people, not flashing paper at them.

Go to conferences and meet these young enthusiasts. That's where the talent is, and many of them can't afford school.

Re:College... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251032)

Big deal.
I had a girlfriend that made more than that when she was 18. Brought home $900 a night on average. Worked as a drinks girl at the sands and had GIANT boobs. She had the brains to get over the stupid "they look at me like 'im an object" objection because she knows that men stare at a hot chick with giant boobs... So she cashed in on it.

Too bad she went crazy and went all religious on me....

This says nothing about the value of education (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250634)

I mean, some of these kids already have degrees. One of them I read attended classes at a university since he was 10. Or how about this one:

"Andrew Hsu started doing research in a pathology lab when he was 10. By the time he was 12, he had matriculated at the University of Washington. Soon after, he graduated with honors degrees in neurobiology, biochemistry, and chemistry. He was a 19-year-old 4th-year neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University when he left early this year to pursue his start-up, Airy Labs."

So this kid is under 20, but he already had 3 Bachelor's degrees and was a year from finishing a Ph.D. These kids are all smart and highly motivated, and it seems they're going to receive a significant amount of mentorship through this fellowship.

But just considering the failure rate of new startups, how would the Thiel Foundation look if 18/20 of their proteges are out of business in a year? My guess is the Foundation will be injecting money and talent into these ventures to avoid such a PR disaster.

Re:This says nothing about the value of education (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251064)

And are social pariahs. They need to use that cash to get social training on how to interact with people and rub elbows with the rich. Brains+education+ understand social interaction and use it to your advantage? that get's you bigger than bill gates ever was.

Not for me (1)

dorix (414150) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250638)

I dropped out of University in 1996. I've never regretted anything in my life more than this. I'm happy with my life now, I have a good career and a family that I love, but I still think that dropping out was the biggest mistake I ever made. If I had the money, I'd go back, but it wouldn't be the same experience now.

Hope he's targeting the right people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250666)

For me, dropping out of college and starting my own business was the best decision I ever made; but I'd also been pining to be a business owner since I was a little kid and was mentally prepared to do the work that owning a business entailed.

Not everyone has the mindset to make it work, and for them they need to stay in school. If you've got a worker ant mentality, taking this guy's money will ruin you.

Not College? (1)

in10se (472253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250694)

Don't go to "college". Come to our "fellowship" and take "classes" where we will mentor you and teach you things. That doesn't sound like a university at all...

The main difference is that they will probably dedicate more time an money for these students which will somehow prove it is better not to go to college... and they'd be right. It is probably better to get taken under the wing of a billionaire and get a free education than go to college.

Not a bad idea in theory ... (1)

killdashnine (651759) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250696)

As we're talking about superstars here it's probably not going to affect them much either way. Self-starters generally know how to teach themselves anyway. Would would be better is if there was a tight bond between the grant and the school they're dropping out of and, perhaps, instead of dropping out for a period of time the University in question could give them credit or grant a different form of degree.

Beware of gifts from people in power.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250704)

They hate competition. This is just a way to make sure that young companies start on a "buzz" but have no staying power...

I've heard this a million times... (4, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250746)

Every time the college vs. no college debate comes up, examples of highly successful dropouts or people who didn't ever go to college are rolled out. The default assumption is that everyone is destined to be a successful entrepreneur. In his defense, he does mention further down in the article that not everyone is cut out for this.

Think about it this way -- to be a successful business owner, you can't just be smart or a hard worker. You have to have some sort of entrepreneurial spark that most people don't have. Every business owner that I've dealt with who is reasonably successful is also a type-A nutjob (mostly meant in a good way...) who works 130 hour weeks and never lets up. Sending the message that everyone can do this if they just try is wrong in my opinion. It produces a lot of small business failures and subsequent bankruptcies as people keep trying to make their business float despite obvious signs it'll never work. It also produces a lot of rhetoric that standard employees are a bunch of lazy people who have no drive and can't cut it in the "real world." Also, there's only so many small businesses that the economy can absorb -- if everyone is out running a frozen yogurt shop or pizza place or small-time startup company, larger companies don't have a workforce. Finally, the entrepreneur class plays the rugged individualist card a little too much IMO when pushing for things such as reduced regulations on business. Example: States who try to enforce sick time requirements on medium-sized small businesses are labeled socialist and hostile to business.

I will be the first to admit I'm not an entrepreneur. I have a good job doing systems engineering work for a large employer, I work hard, and my contribution is valued (after all, they keep paying me.) A smaller company could run rings around this one, but there would be a problem making that transition:
- I can't sell. Period.
- I'm not your typical "slimy used car salesman" personality that most small business owners tend to be
- I'm not willing to risk my livelihood or work insane hours for something that will probably fail. (Isn't it 90% of small businesses failing within a year still?) What would I fall back on?

For everyone else who isn't these things, the formal education route is the way to go. Just like your average unemployed factory worker would be ill-advised to cash out his retirement to go buy a Subway franchise, high school grads would be ill-advised to completely ignore the safer path to a decent living.

He's on to something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36250816)

Honestly, he's not taking 24 random kids off the street. He's taking the cream of the crop. These kids probably would have done well in life, no matter where they went to school. Most of them are dropping out of elite schools anyway.

The mentorship connection that it develops will be huge for them. I'm jealous.

- www.awkwardengineer.com

College is a mean to an end (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250842)

Skipping it can be just fine if someone has the right idea and the capabilities to transform into a product. However, because it is a mean to an end, it can provide knowledge and inspiration to achieve the same goals. I see a very demagogic move here, that doesn't take into account the numbers. The very few that made it without college cannot be compared to the thousands that did it BECAUSE of college. Besides, I have seen many of the startups that Peter Thief is sponsoring, and while there are good ideas flowing, most of them work in a completely disoriented, uncoordinated way. These companies (I cannot name them) are run by people that do not possess the rigour and the focus that will ultimately lead them to fail. The same lack of rigour and focus were the same reason for them to drop out from college. Furthermore, while you can easily establish a software company with no training (in fact training may be going against you), I just don't see how you can do it in the bio- or nano-tech, with completely no exposure to basic concepts or science and technology.

Not that big a deal (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250868)

A number of people I knew in University dropped out and did rather well. Some found jobs in software. Some started businesses. The thing was that they were able to get into a more or less real university and succeed for some period of time. The mere fact atht they were able to do this mean they have some ability to work and plan and do paperwork and other silly things simply because they need to be done. It also means that they sat for their SAT or ACT and did rather well. You don't get into Harvard of Standford with 1000 on you SAT.

So giving away 2 million dollars to the the top twenty applicants with a good idea is not really going to tell us anything. First, many of the innovations we see today were created using college resources. Bill Gates dropped out of harvard to do software, but it is alleged that he used campus resources to start. 100K is not going to get you campus resoureces. Dell sold computers out of his college dorm.

My thought is that people who want to drop out of college and go out and change the world do it. Some stay to maintain access to university resources. In any case the university will continue to be a basis of training for innovation. I have never had access to the equipment in the real worl that I had in University, and familiarity with that equipment has transferred to many other projects.

What would make me impressed is if there were 2 million dollars for high school students who start a tech firm prior to graduation. That woud accelerate innovation.

Experiment (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250880)

It does make for an interesting experiment because going to college gives you a formal, theoretical background but doesn't actually prepare you for the workplace nor does it make you necessarily a better employee or manager. There are poor managers that have business/managerial degrees. I have a decent career in a field totally unrelated to what I studied. I was a Criminal Justice major that ended up in IT. I am entirely self-taught and I am running my own part-time business to supplement income. To be successful, you must be willing to have an attitude of "life-long learning." I remember my first IT job was a low level help desk job that basically involved taking tickets and routing them so I spent time on my own to learn and improve. I learned basic networking by building one in my house. I also made use of the internet to read up on networking technologies and TCP/IP. If we were slow, I asked questions of the engineers to learn more. Due to my own motivation to be a "life-long learner," I quickly got out of that low level help desk position and on to desktop support and beyond. I have seen many people come out of college with degrees in Information Technology and I can run circles around them. I would hope that Peter Thiel would also encourage learning.

This is not what it seems (0)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250882)

This is a paid mentorship/apprenticeship. And that is a fine way to learn in many fields, provided the person is capable. It's like the blacksmith jobs of old. But give someone 2 years under a startup CEO, and they will undoubtedly be more prepared than someone with 2 years of college in starting a company.

Experience is one of the best teachers. Books are no replacement for the real world, with its successes, but more importantly, failures. This is why even medical doctors don't graduate without hands on experience.

Still, I don't like the idea. Rather, I think experience is part of a well rounded curriculum, not the entire curriculum.

Money doesn't get you everywhere... (1)

Shrike Valeo (2198124) | more than 3 years ago | (#36250948)

I agree with his points suggesting education is hinted at far too strongly, especially Universities. I abandoned my degree in the second year feeling that there is far less market for them (not just degree-dependant jobs, but jobs that a degree can help you with). And when you see the value of a degree declining when education is mainly a way to give you skills to work, to earn, to make money and keep capitalism rolling, it makes you think. To get a suave job nowadays you now benefit more from side projects, work experience and the things you do besides the degree. If everyone has a degree in computer science, you cant define yourself with it. So I say, good on him, but giving kids money to start businesses won't go far. It pushes ideas-for-profit over ideas-for-innovation...and many things these days aren't innovation, they're rebrands. Oh, and kids? Good luck getting around all the patents... *chuckles*

I'd take it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36251014)

If failed, then I can always go back to college

Man, I wish something like this had existed in '89 (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251018)

I discovered the internet in the 80's, at university, and totally fell in love with the whole concept of special interest news groups, email, and using ftp to get freely available software. I thought it'd be an interesting idea to create a "BBS" (the only term I could think of to apply to it at the time), which would provide a number of dial-up lines to allow the general public to connect to it. I began doing some research to figure out what the cost of running such an operation would be, starting with 16 phone lines, and working my way up from there once the company started to make a profit. I also inquired with the university about out how much it would cost to lease a connection from them, situated relatively close to the campus, and calculated the cost of laying down the necessary cable, and the start up costs worked out to be in the many tens of thousands of dollars. I wanted the service to be affordable, and was hoping to charge 5c per minute, or preferably even less. I didn't expect the phone lines to be in use all the time, so I estimated how busy I expected the phone lines to be, based on an amount I figured was reasonable from my experience with multiuser chat BBS's, and calculated that near the start of the 2nd year of operation, while making enough money to cover all of its own ongoing costs the whole time, it would have made enough on top of that to completely pay for the start up costs, and at that point would be completely self-sustaining and could start to grow.

I approached someone I happened to personally know who worked in the loans department for a bank to give him an unofficial pitch for my idea. I wanted to approach it as a business loan, and that seemed reasonable to myself and the other fellow that I had recruited into helping me do the research.

He thought it was really innovative, but he thought that my estimates on usage were very high, since this sort of thing was wholly unproven, and said that I would probably not be able to get a loan for the amounts that I would have needed to start up.

*sigh*

If only...

Is it me? (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251114)

or does this just smack as another attack on Education. It seems everywhere I go I keep hearing how poor kids don't need college, books, classrooms, teachers. They just need to work. I'm reminded about how robber barons in the 1800s used to argue against the 40 hour work week, saying the working classes would just use it to drink (idle hands... devil's play thing).

He is right. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251140)

First session of our orientation course in our first year, our professor from industrial engineering (our dept) dept, who was flying to m.i.t. to deliver lessons and back from time to time, (one of the youngest professors in this country back then) had told us that we would only remember 4% of ALL that we were going to learn during the course of next 4 years of academic education. and ALL of that would only serve the purpose of giving us a 'formation'. a formation of scientific/engineering mind.

he was right. despite we were studying in a university that sent academicians to teach in a lot of respectable universities of the world, despite we were a university that was geared more towards practical (applied) education, (a few of my classmates are in top 4-5 people of some fortune 10 companies now), the next 4 years of education was really in that manner. after a while, you come to learn - this is the reality of an education system that has descended from scholastic roots, and there are few universities and colleges exempt from these around the world, and these are considered radical.

so in short, even our education system, even if it is conducted with a 'modern' approach, is, 96% inefficient. we load 96% crap into brains of people, only to give a formation that is worth 4%.

it is stunning that, up until this point, noone was able to bring a method that would give 100% formation without loading 96% crap.

but hey - education and textbooks are lucrative businesses. so, our youth has to endure 96% crap.

Much better kids get some basic education in high school, then directly go about doing what they want to do, and learning in the process. times have changed. we had to shell out $50-90 on a single textbook to get to what would be considered advanced information back then - now we have google, and unfathomable amount of information that it indexed, thanks to what crowds put on the web. and yeah, what you can get from web, can be as good as what is put into textbooks. (and at times, more advanced and deep than you would want in a coursebook).

it is time to reform.

I know one of the 20 awardees (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251146)

He already has 2 patents before he was accepted by Stanford, and has already opened more than 10 companies, and his current company already has significant backing. Peter Thiel's award is only given to people who don't need college.

Only a $100k? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36251184)

For many private colleges, $100k is about what it costs to go to school for 2 years (incl room/board).

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