Proof Kids Don't Really Need College

Jacqueline Burt Cote
24

high school graduateImagine if you could stop stressing about saving up for college. I know, it's like fantasizing about sprouting wings or some other fabulous but extremely unlikely scenario, right? But for some parents, this dream is actually coming true. Peter Thiel, a tech tycoon in San Francisco, recently awarded 24 teens with scholarships of $100,000 each ... to skip going to college. Yep, you read that right. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the first investors in Facebook, chose winners based on their proposals for how to change the world. His theory? If you've got a great idea, get started right away; don't waste time racking up debt in college. Might sound crazy, but Mark Zuckerberg makes a pretty convincing poster boy.

 

 

Granted, like Zuckerberg, these are some spectacularly smart teens we're talking about, kids who turned down schools like Carnegie Mellon and Princeton to take Thiel's offer. Their potentially revolutionary concepts range from a mobile banking system for the developing world to producing cheaper biofuels, topics that might not be weighing too heavily on the average teenager's mind. But even for kids who aren't poised to "change the world," I think the idea of entrepreneurial scholarships instead of college loans makes a lot of sense, especially now, when so many Americans are both unemployed and college-educated. A degree used to serve as a guarantee, but not anymore. Maybe the key to turning the job market around lies in overhauling our country's higher education model.

My kids are still only 5 and 10 years old, but if someone like Thiel were to give them a similar opportunity upon their high school graduation, I'd tell them to go for it.

Would you let your kid skip college to follow a dream?

 

Image via Meredith P./Flickr

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