Next Bubble to Burst? Higher Education

We invest vast sums in a future that may not exist, says Peter Thiel
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 11, 2011 1:59 PM CDT
Peter Thiel argues that higher education is another bubble.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – We’re in the midst of another bubble, and it's not an Internet one, according to PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. It's a higher education bubble, and "like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future,” writes Sarah Lacy, who sat down to interview Thiel for TechCrunch. Students pay universities big bucks not to teach them, but to guarantee their security, argues Thiel. Questioning the value of education has long been "the absolute taboo," he says—but now more and more kids are graduating ... then moving home, leading many to ask, "Is it worth it?"

But Thiel takes it further. He believes it’s "wrong for a society to pin people’s best hope for a better life on something that is by definition exclusionary." After all, if Harvard’s so great, why not open 100 affiliates? Because Harvard's value is based on “scarcity” and “status,” Thiel argues. And so Thiel, who predicted the dot-com bust and the housing bubble, is trying to “poke a small but solid hole in this Ivy League bubble.” He has created a program that will pay 20 talented kids $100,000 to drop out of college and start businesses. Many of the finalists are Ivy Leaguers, and that's OK, says Thiel. "Maybe people at Harvard need to be doing something else. We have to reset what the bar is at the top.”

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