BY: CAROLINE ROLF
According to PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, the key to achieving a successful business quickly is by skipping college, and he’ll pay you to do it. The Thiel Foundation is offering $100,000 fellowships to entrepreneurs under 22 to help their vision get off the ground.
Thiel wants innovators to pursue science and technology-related projects, understand entrepreneurship and start building the biggest companies of tomorrow. Along with the huge chunk of change, the foundation will also offer mentorship from a network of inventors. Those selected for the fellowship can focus on projects like economics, finance, education, robotics, space, mobility, career development and more. The only requirements concern your age and that you drop out of school. It is also suggested that you move to San Francisco.
This controversial method of innovation is persuading some students at top-notch institutions like Harvard to drop out of school for two years to start their own company. The Thiel Foundation was developed in part because of the increasing cost of a higher education as well as challenging the status associated with an academic degree, which has become more important than the education and experience itself. This confronts the familiar notion that young adults must complete a post-secondary degree if they want to build a foundation for future success.
According to Tech Crunch, “Thiel isn’t totally alone in the first part of his education bubble assertion. It used to be a given that a college education was always worth the investment– even if you had to take out student loans to get one. But over the last year, as unemployment hovers around double digits, the cost of universities soars and kids graduate and move back home with their parents, the once-heretical question of whether education is worth the exorbitant price has started to be re-examined…”
Take Dale Stephens, for example, who was selected by Thiel to participate in the program. Stephens pushed academics to the side to take a more hands-on approach to learning. He dropped out of Hendrix College in Arkansas and started UnCollege – a non-profit organization that helps teenagers learn outside the conventional education system and make a mark in the world instead of being another student number.
Along with the $100,000, the foundation will also offer mentorship from a network of inventors
Thiel, who initially followed a conventional career path to Wall Street before establishing himself as an entrepreneur, has had his fair amount of criticism from sceptics who believe that dropping out of school is equivalent to a total lack of motivation. They also question what his “little experiment” will prove other than a handful of individuals can achieve similar success to Thiel’s.
This program is offering the opportunity to participate in something equally valuable to a higher education, even if you didn’t get into Stanford. If you have the brains and personality, but you don’t quite fit in the academic mold, Thiel’s Fellowship might be for you.