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Another one who should get some flack is Thiel.

He may just be the worst, suggesting kids should forgo a university education and going so far as to actually debate the "issue" whether an education is "worth it".

For some of these VC to make money, they have no need to see university degrees.

But they have their own interests in mind. And, lo and behold, most of them have university degrees.

I think you guys are being unduly cynical. Thiel recently debated this on NPR (http://intelligencesquaredus.org/index.php/past-debates/too-...) and I found him very convincing. He repeatedly talked about the concern of young people leaving college with 200k+ in debt -- which I think is very fair.

Thiel's also discussed elsewhere his frustration with the liberal politics of academia, which he sees as an impediment to libertarian policies gaining wider buy-in, so I think he might have motivations for attempting to undermine it besides pure concern for students' debt. (Though it's quite possible he earnestly dislikes academia for multiple, independent reasons.)

Nail on head. Common politician tactic.

He's a hardcore objectivist libertarian. He most certainly doesn't care the least bit about student loan debts.

But this is kind of an ad hominem. He's also correct.

>He repeatedly talked about the concern of young people leaving college with 200k+ in debt -- which I think is very fair.

But is that a real problem? The statistics I've seen show that the proportion of students with more than $100,000 in debt is tiny. Most students graduate with ~$25,000 in debt. At that debt level, a college education is still a no-brainer.

I'd be willing to argue that if you've managed to rack up $200,000 in debt financing a college education, you've either 1) had extraordinarily bad luck or 2) made extraordinarily poor choices. Neither case is an indictment of the system at large.

  At that debt level, a college education is still a no-brainer.
I would argue that depends heavily on which degree you're coming out with. I know a lot of communications and psychology majors who are working in food service 3-4 years after graduating, still living at home, and getting assistance from their regretful parents who cosigned on their student loans.

In the recent Thiel debate he said in fact that he supported undergrad education inclusive of non-technical degrees and was personally glad he did what he did. The larger question related to increasing price tag vs. decreasing value.

I'm sure some people might find Arrington very convincing as well (especially when he's recycling old jwz material). That may be why jwz has chosen to speak out.

Whether or not someone is convincing is moot if they're correct. That's what should be considered, not whether or not they're convincing. And every self-thinking analytical individual should be free to draw their own conclusions, after gathering as much data as possible.

Ahh if only the world and media worked that way. Sadly as if you look at most politicians, being right is way less critical then being convincing.

I did find it ironic that one of Thiel's major complaints about education was the exclusivity of universities like Harvard given that his solution was a program that admitted a mere 20 would-be entrepreneurs.

jwz is right: be alert to the agendas of those who would influence you.

jwz is saying "follow the money". Thiel's drop-out scholarships are offered by his non-profit foundation.

There is no relation between the discord between the self interest of a VC and a startup employee on the one hand, and the possibility that Thiel is giving bad advice to people who he has no financial interest in.

I helped vet applications for 20 Under 20 and I'm serving as a mentor for the program, and based on my observations there's nothing cynical about it. As currently structured, the program isn't scalable, but they're just getting started. Let's see what they can do given a few years to get the ball rolling.

Sorry, I don't understand the link to 20 under 20. My understanding is that it is purely philanthropic. And I'm not sure I've ever heard of Thiel advocating what Arrington is advocating.

And honestly, is a university education not being worth it such an evil idea? Many of the best and brightest are autodidacts. From Ben Franklin to Thomas Edison to Bill Gates. Is it so horrible for Thiel to subsidize self-teachers?

In fact, my guess is that some people actually learn better on their own or outside of a university environment. Thiel is providing an innovative alternative to elite universities. He's very experimental in his philanthropy, so let's just see where this goes before giving him "flack."

I haven't heard his whole pitch, but the summary version I've heard doesn't seem crazy to me.

There are some fields where what really matters is talent and practical experience, not book learning. A lot of the best techies I know either have no degree or have it in something unrelated. The same is true of entrepreneurs and musicians, and probably other fields.

Consider also the absurdly rising cost of education:

"Median household income has grown by a factor of 6.5 in the past 40 years, but the cost of attending a state college has increased by a factor of 15 for in-state students and 24 for out-of-state students. The cost of attending a private college has increased by a factor of more than 13." -- http://www.economist.com/node/16960438

It's simple economics that if the cost of a good keeps increasing, it eventually won't be worth it for some purposes. It's not crazy to ask whether for certain people it's really worth it now. If your aim is entrepreneurship, you might be better off spending $150k and 4 years on starting businesses and learning on your own rather than giving that to Harvard.

Except those numbers simply are not true. Sticker price is nowhere close to actual price for college. No one leaves Harvard (or any Ivy League college) with $150K in debt. Either their families can easily afford to pay the price, or Harvard picks up almost all of the tab.

Also, um, not everyone is due to be an entrepreneur. Outside of the Twitter Bootstrap startup world, the entrepreneurs need well-educated professionals to do the work, and will pay for talent.

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