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