"20 Under 20 winner Dale Stephens breaks down the idea that won him $100,000 not to go college." I never had the chance to get to know Dale personally, but it’s pretty cool to think we both came from Hendrix College. The principal of the Thiel Fellowship isn’t exactly a new idea to me, but I’m surprised that someone finally put their money where their mouth is.
Basically the Thiel Fellows have two years and $100,000USD, coupled with mentorship from tech industry leaders, to make a dent in their entrepreneurial dreams. After that, if the applicants want to pursue a bachelors degree (or not), they are free to do so.
The Thiel Fellows were already extremely bright, motivated individuals before this opportunity, and I am sure that will be the case long after their tenure is over. Thiel got smart and is broadcasting a counter college message with some of the brightest and outspoken youngsters to stand behind the idea. (I say youngsters, but I’m only 22 myself)
I totally agree that college isn’t for everyone. But, I also totally agree that college gives the average American opportunities that cannot be found elsewhere. My cynical point that I’m trying to make is: the risk of doing what the Thiel Fellows are doing won’t end well for the vast majority of unconventional students. For the naturally bright, talented, sorted, motivated, fearless youngsters, God’s speed.
Mind you, I’ve devoted a year of my life working to understand ways to influence change in an American education culture that keeps so many talented, yet unmotivated, unsorted, fearful, average minded students from reaching their full potential. So it’s no surprise why I feel the way I do.
But, to end on a less cynical note. It’s awesome to see educational issues discussed, in any capacity, on a large scale. If there is to be any positive change, there has to be public discussion. Now there are 24 entrepreneurs armed with the confidence and support to have their voices heard. They’re stirring the pot, and I’m curious for what’s to come.