Monday, October 30, 2017

Hedge Fund Billionaire: Thiel’s Skip-College Plan is ‘Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard’

Pay Pal co-founder Peter Theil founded the Thiel Fellowship in 2011. The two-year program pays students $100,000 to skip college and pursue their entrepreneurial ideas with guidance.

“I think it’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. I mean, really, ‘We don’t need training, let’s just get out there and do it,’ ” billionaire hedge funder James Simons said at a breakfast hosted by the IESE Business School last Thursday, reports The New York Post.

“Maybe there’s one or two people a year who could benefit from that,” Simons said.

Simons holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and worked in acadamia prior to launching his $50 billion Renaissance Technologies fund in 1982.

Simons may have a point here, depending upon what courses a student takes in college. Politically correct nonsense is a waste. However, courses such as accounting or engineering, can make sense for many. Not everyone has the talent to become an entrepreneur. And those that are super talented from an entrepreneurial perspective often figure out a way on their own, see Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. 

As for Theil, he holds a bachelors degree and law degree from Stanford.
That said, Theil is using his own money so if he wants to fund such a project I don't have any problem with it. Much of college education is a wreck but the real solution would be to get government influence out of the education sector so we could see what free market alternatives would develop. If Theil started such a campaign that would be even more interesting.



  1. Oh, please. "The DUMBEST thing"??? So out of ALL the incoming freshmen, a FEW take the Theil route and strike out immediately on the road. Puleeeze. College teaches you the orthodox way to proceed in the STEM fields,say,but NOTHING else (except maybe some cool Shakespeare stuff).
    I made shitloads without a complete college semester. My ex made gazillions in chemical products sales with a degree in linguistics (oh, lots of overlay there).
    Theil has the right idea. Nothing wrong with a B.S. degree, but if you're impatient...

    1. College teaches you nothing about how proceed in "STEM fields". There's zero about how to move along the conventional corporate ladder. The degrees are all about the technical knowledge across a broad width of things with very little exception. You apply that how you see fit.

      If you want to do sales or business deals, you don't need college any more than Thornton Melon. But how do you make gazillions selling chemical products without someone who learned how to make them? That's the problem.

      The business skills and the technical skills rarely exist in the same person. For instance, without Woz, Jobs would have had nothing to sell and nobody to make it. Without Jobs Woz's work would have never gone beyond the computer club level.

      And while for a lot of technical things one doesn't need college, the time price to learn must be paid in some form or fashion. Apple needed those people or its computers would have stayed in wood boxes.

  2. Education is one thing, a college degree another, and one does not require the other.

    One of my brothers is a college professor and two other relatives are teachers in lower education. From what I understand through them and others the majority of what is taught in schools these days is what I would describe as anti-education.

    On the other hand there are some large corporations that require a college degree for positions, such as sales, that the degree has no relevance to. Companies such as Budweiser wont hire salespeople without a degree. What the degree is in is less important than the piece of paper.

    My nephew majored in acting at Berkley. I thought this was a waist of his time and his parents money. I did not let this opinion be known to them because I have seen others such as my sister use her degree in economics to get positions with little to no relevance to her degree. Now she is very successful in the HR field, making very good money and she enjoys very much.

    Times have changed. My nephew will likely have a different experience compared to my sister. Also, the availability of information and to become educated through other means than college is a game changer for the "dumbness" of a college education.

    1. Lets just call a spade a spade. College is the wrong path for most that venture down it these days. Its a fabricated process for creating a debt serf generation that has very little hope of ROI on their investment!

      A college eduction does not instill a passion for career nor drive to excel, nor a think outside the box mentality that all Entrepreneurs bring to the table.

      When looked back upon in the future these decades of higher education will be an embarrassment to students, educators and outrageously priced institutions across the board.

      Theil couldnt be MORE correct in his assessment.

    2. I agree that todays typical education facilities do not instill a passion for career nor drive to excel, nor a think outside the box mentality. Critical thinking seems to be heretical in all fields. This is part of what I meant by anti-education.

      In my experience most entrepreneurs do little outside the box thinking. Most business owners open a new business in the same industry they have already been working in. For the most part they copy a business that they were formerly an employee of.

      The amount of risk and responsibility that entrepreneurs take on is outside the box. Can this be taught? It does not seem to be in the typical education facilities today.

    3. IMO Bryan Caplan makes a lot of sense here. Many employers don’t necessarily want to hire an “outside the box thinker.” Instead, they’d prefer to hire a drone who’s demonstrated that they’ll do what they’re told, even if it involves uninteresting drudgery.

  3. Current education practices Elementary through High School were primarily established during the Industrial Revolution. This late 18th century time lent itself to what the establishment thought was the need for drone workers in factories. Higher education used to be a different story. Now that "everyone should go to college" higher education has dumbed down.

    This "dronization" of even higher education has become part of even science and tech subjects. I see this in the space sciences where they won’t let go of old theories that have been shown to be wrong by observations in both nature and laboratories. Of course holding on to established theories has been part of science forever.

    A lot of work, including in science and tech, just needs to be hammered out with no critical thinking needed. But if critical thinking were encouraged throughout our education the world would be a better place. Maybe not for the politicians and cronies but overall a better place.