It sounds like the beginning of a reality show on Fox. You get the chance to allow your child to drop out of college in exchange for $100,000 to start a business of their choice. It sounds crazy, but this is what Peter Thiel has done in his latest campaign to brand college as an overhyped money sucker.
This article will examine the fellowship program and whether it could really be a viable alternative to going to college.
How Does It Really Work?
To begin with, it's important to know how it works. Under the terms of the program, the successful applicant must drop out of college immediately or not go to college in the first place. At this point, they will receive $100,000 to start a business.
They will be mentored by a range of entrepreneurs and business leaders best suited to their chosen industries. As they start their business dreams, they will be monitored and recorded every step of the way. At no point is there any guarantee of success. On the other hand, this is a working education.
Candidates have a choice as to what industry they go into. Part of the application involves pitching that business idea.
Does it Have Long-Term Value?
This depends on whether the person's business succeeds or not. The actual fellowship is designed to last for two years' maximum. After this, the entrepreneur is left alone to run their business. Potentially it has long-term value, but the actual fellowship itself is rather short.
On the other hand, the candidates chosen are no ordinary teenagers. One teenager chosen started college education in the third grade. Another scored over 5500 on the SAT. They are extremely bright and many are borderline geniuses.
In other words, Thiel made sure they were intelligent and mature well beyond their years before choosing them. This means that it likely isn't going to work in the same way for everybody.
The Chance to Change the World
Laura Deming is one of the more remarkable teenagers working in this program. She desires to commercialize anti-aging therapies. She will increase the speed of which anti-aging treatments are produced and hopefully expand the average human life by a few decades.
The projects chosen have the power to change the entire world for the better. If your kid was chosen for such a program, they would have the opportunity to make real change in the world, which is more than can be said for the ordinary college graduate.
In addition, it would almost certainly be a chance they would never be able to obtain in any other fashion.
The Debt Issue
Peter Thiel's fellowship provides a grant of $100,000. Even if these businesses fail in the long-term, the money doesn't have to be repaid. The same guarantee doesn't come with a college degree. Someone who takes out $100,000 in loans will still have to repay that money even if they find themselves stacking shelves at 7/11.
Some students realize that they will never be able to pay off their debt, particularly if they have a high income and are ineligible for debt forgiveness and certain types of consolidation. This is essentially leaving many students starting careers while already being at least $50,000 in the hole.
While Thiel's fellowship may seem reckless at first, the $1.2 trillion student debt figure for the US is much worse. A fellowship gives you the opportunity of a lifetime without the debt. If you let your kids drop out in order to embark on such a journey, they would be far better off than someone with a degree.
So Would You Allow Your Kids to Drop Out?
For the purposes of this section, your kids have been accepted for the Thiel fellowship. They have a fantastic idea that could change the world. With all the student debt and no guarantee of a job, they would be better off taking the money and the education of the fellowship.
The reality is a degree is there to help you get a job in which to earn money with. With the help of Peter Thiel, your kids could accomplish this without student loan consolidation.
It may be unlikely that your kids would ever have the chance to join the fellowship, but if it came up you would be better off taking the chance with both hands.
You never know, it could be the decision that changes the world for the better.