Learning Good, University Bad

That’s an almost quote from Peter Thiel, the Stanford University educated billionaire who started Paypal and went on to invest in other internet successes like YouTube and Facebook.

I jazzed it up a little; the actual quote is “Learning is good, credentialing and debt is very bad.”  (Click here for the actual ABC interview with Mr. Thiel.)

Thiel is pointing to something that should give parents pause before investing in a university education.

University may not be the best route to success,

… at least if your primary reasons for sending your kids to college are to make them secure, independent and responsible for their own financial success.  Just ask all the American families that have had their college educated kids move back home.

If you want your kids to be independent, and wealthy (happy anyone?) then they must learn to be inventive, as well as how to use technology to create new marketplace offers that could have them live autonomously, and passionately.

They must get an education that increases their capacity to adapt to a rapidly changing world.  If that’s what you want then a traditional university education may no longer be the best choice.

While still offering a better chance at employment and increased lifetime earnings over people without degrees, university degrees (at least American ones) are increasingly seen as grossly overvalued and out of step with the needs of the 21st century.

Learn by doing

Thiel’s answer is to offer a scholarship—worth the amount of what many would pay for a first degree—that allows 20 students to actually create their own business; to design, craft, sell and fulfill an offer that would become a sustainable business.

The idea being that this kind of real world experience forces people to think inventively and learn the practical skills to be able to not just earn a living, but to create and invent products and services that people really want.

As a model for future education, students would pay their tuition toward this type of “degree” rather than pass exams based on what they read in books.

The promise is Freedom not Security

This kind of education offers freedom from the 9-5 drudgery and working for security that has millions of people live at much less than their potential while quietly dreaming of an existence they feel is out of reach.

This is in contrast to the credentialed debt-ridden masses that traditional universities are designed to produce.

I’m by no means down on higher education, I just agree with Thiel that the current system needs to be seriously retooled if we are to prepare our young people to sustainably take care of their economic well-being and contribute to society.

Your choices

Your continuing education is not optional if you intend to grow and be able to live a great life in the face of a rapidly changing world.

There are many university and non-university courses that can help you take care of any area in your life where you are frustrated or stopped.

That’s what MoreVidaReviews is designed to help.

If you have kids, your fundamental choice is whether to follow the lemmings and send your kids for a traditional university degree vs. find a creative unorthodox university or non-university program that will that will allow them to develop REAL capacities to take control of their own personal and economic well-being.

The idea is not to buy credentials, but whether your kids will have the required capacities to produce valuable situations for themselves and others.  Particularly the valuable situations that people will pay for.

In addition to being expensive, I don’t believe universities produce these capacities in their graduates.



Any thoughts? Contributions/acknowledgments welcome.