First came the internet bubble. Then the housing bubble.  What’s next, the higher-education bubble? That’s what the co-founder of PayPal thinks. Peter Thiel has had an impressive run at life. By anyone’s standards, he has been pretty successful. After attending Standford University and Standford Law school, Thiel hit it big by selling PayPal to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion dollars. He was also one of the first outside investors in Facebook. Now he is the President of Founder’s Fund and Clarium Capital, two investment firms he founded. So why does this highly decorated businessman think that there is now a higher-education bubble?

Thiel has criticized higher education for many issues including the lack of entrepreneurship being taught.  He thinks that society now thinks of a college education as an insurance policy – the false belief that graduating from college automatically means getting a job. He has also stated that the price of a college education can strip away creativity from its students, which he calls “the last indentured worker of the developed world,” by forcing them into debt. Because of this debt, students choose majors and degrees based on salaries, not passion. This is why he started a 20 Under 20, a program that gave 20 college students under the age of 20 a fellowship of $100,000 for two years to drop out of college and start their own company. I believe that Thiel is revolutionary thinker that really challenges the norms of society. At a school like Bucknell, Thiel’s views would certainly stir up much controversy which could help us think outside the box.

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7 responses »

  1. pbm043 says:

    Upon further thought, based on this review and the comment on my post, I rescind my statement that Mr. Thiel wouldn’t be a worthy speaker. On the contrary, I am becoming increasingly convinced that be might be a perfect fit. At a school like Bucknell above all others, where life seems to be structured around a strict and defined routine, a speaker like Thiel might inspire some much needed unconventional thinking. Although I’m not sure I’m convinced of his methods, a man like Thiel might well be worth a few hours of our time.

  2. ts036 says:

    I don’t fully agree with Thiel in regards to students pursuing careers that are purely dictated by the higher salary. He does bring up a good point that there has been a decline in regards to the entrepreneur. I think the problem with entrepreneurship is that many people fall victim to the belief that it is very difficult to get started, but essentially all it takes is an idea. I think Thiel would help students see how simple ideas, can become those million dollar ideas with a little time and effort.

  3. alin01 says:

    Referring to the comment above, I agree with you in that I am not convinced of his methods. I found it interesting how Mr. Thiel thinks of higher-education when in fact had it not been for higher-education, he would never have met many of his business partners including the co-founder of PayPal. Also, in a society like ours, it is hard to get a job without a college degree. He believes that people should drop out and start their own business but not everybody comes from a good background that provides them with the necessary capital to start their own business. However, I applaud him for throwing down bills to support his ideas with the 20 Under 20 program.

  4. lcs024 says:

    After just reading this short description about some of Thiel’s views, I am hooked. I think it is very amusing that he referred to present-day college students as “the last indentured worker of the developed world,” and I also feel he is spot on about many people choosing their major based on potential salary earnings, not a passion for the subject material. Given that all of these ideas are very relevant to a college campus, especially a school like Bucknell where many students are very salary-conscious, it would be great to hear Thiel speak and potentially change some students’ perspectives on undergraduate education. Additionally, as the co-founder of PayPal, he could undoubtedly spark some interesting discussion about the efficiencies that technology can bring and perhaps connect this to his other views on college and career paths.

  5. Mike M says:

    I agree that Thiel would be a great speaker for the Bucknell campus. Many Bucknell students seem to believe that going to college and then getting a job with a company somewhere is the normal and proper path to choose, but Thiel challenges this view. This would likely stir debate among many Bucknell students and thus make him an interesting speaker.

  6. manderson12 says:

    I believe that Peter Thiel would be the best speaker for Bucknell, especially in the current economic state we are in now. With jobs being very difficult to obtain and the percentage of people having a college degree increases, students have the feeling like they are being drowned in a pool of job applicants where it takes very hard work to get just a tiny leg up on any other student. I completely agree with Thiel’s opinion that many young students believe higher education is an insurance policy to obtain any job. It is also natural for most students to believe that being successful means finding the job with the highest salary (or any job now).
    I cannot say for a fact, but I would not be surprised if entrepreneurship has been declining over the past few years. This reminds me of a video I have seen by Sir Ken Robinson from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). This video explains how our generation has been educated to the point where it strips away our creativity to teach us to learn convergently. If you have the time, I suggest you watch the video and see if you agree with his point of view – video. Thiel success matched with his creative thinking would be very stimulating for Bucknell to hear and discuss. His talk would help students identify their passion and think about the various ways to find their career, instead of the largest salary.

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