By and large, entrepreneurs will disagree with your parents about the safety net provided by a higher education. Why waste time studying the Western canon when you could be coding your way to the next Facebook? Not every techie agrees, of course. But it’s hard to name a more lucrative industry dominated by dropouts. PayPal co-founder, early Facebook investor, and veteran contrarian Peter Thiel takes that distrust of the merits of matriculating a few steps further. Thiel sees the next bubble happening not in tech, but in higher education:
“A true bubble is when something is over-valued and intensely believed,” he says. “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.”
It’s a polarizing notion. After all, dropping out of Harvard (à la Gates and Zuckerberg) isn’t the same thing as stopping at a high school education. But it is a great way for Thiel, who went to Stanford and Stanford Law School, to drum up publicity for his latest venture: a “20 Under 20” program to pay twenty kids $100,000 over two years to leave school and start a company instead. Who will the next generation of entrepreneurs listen to? Their folks or the dude whose San Francisco manse comes equipped with a butler?