Why You Should And Should Not Take Peter Thiel’s Offer To Skip College

20 June 2011 Thoughts

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In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of Peter Thiel’s 100k offer to entrepreneurial teens to skip college. The fellowship gives teens 100k over two years to build a company but the deal is that they can’t enroll in college.

The first members of the 20 Under 20 Fellows were announced May 25.

Why You Should Take The Offer

1. College Costs Up Up Up


Trends over the last few years have shown that college costs, along with living and medical expenses, are skyrocketing. On the other side, salaries are stagnating, and unemployment is rising. The benefits of a college degree are not the same as they were decades ago. The cost of starting a business is next to zero. Not everyone is an entrepreneur, but there’s no harm in trying to be one.

Naresh Vissa

2. Mature, Then Go To College


I’d recommend taking the offer in a heartbeat. I think too many go to college too early. Often its the first time away from home and many spend the first year or more to “spread their wings”. Most would benefit if they took a few years off to mature and also evaluate what interests them so they can better plan their college years. For example, I liked President Clinton’s “public service” program but thought should be offered before college not after for the same reasons.

John Boyd , MeetingWave

3. Practical Over Theoretical


I would take the offer as it presents a real chance of getting to know the state of affairs in practice and not theoretically as college would have presented it. Building your own company is an undertaking, which requires a lot of research, analysis and straightforward decision making. You cannot spend hours reading through the books to find an ultimate answer for your questions – everything is learn through ups and downs, which constitute your experience and knowledge.

Though the knowledge that college gives you cannot be underestimated, it is still the real-life occurrences and circumstances that build you up as a person and businessman. You should not be afraid to take risks and responsibility on your shoulders if you eventuality what to make something out of your life.

Erika Walker, Best Essay Help

4. Umm… You Get To Work With Peter Thiel!


I would take the deal of $100,000 and the opportunity to work along-side Peter Thiel. As a young entrepreneur who graduated college with a degree in Business Marketing I can wholeheartedly say that you can learn more from a great advisor and beating the streets then you can inside a classroom. Money to eat and continue product development is great, but the experience of working passionately on your own business before life obstacles come about is so important. Whether you win, lose or draw in your business, you can always go back to college, but you may never have the chance to work with Peter Thiel.

Jacob Dreyfuss, Ready Set Work

5. Be That Much More Ahead


A true entrepreneur learns from his/her experience building and operating a company day in and day out. While a degree will serve you well for future job applications, most entrepreneurs have the mindset to never work for anyone but themselves and their customers. If I was given the deal of $100,000 to start a company rather than college I would take full advantage of it. Even if I do or don’t know what to do with that $100,000, I’m going to learn more about business just from the experience than sitting in a classroom reading about it. The business would most likely fail, but like all entrepreneurs I’d try again and be way ahead of the game than a recent college graduate.

Tyler D. Ward, Letter Photography

6. Yes, But…

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Thiel’s offer makes some sense to me because I dropped out of college at the end of my sophomore year to become the general manager of a restaurant where I’d been the night manager, and it was a wonderful opportunity to expand upon my leadership and entrepreneurial abilities. I was extremely successful in building the business; but after several years, I began realizing how hard I had to work to keep up with colleagues who had completed degrees in business administration. Inside my domain (i.e., the restaurant itself), my technical skills were unmatched; but in a turbulent, ever-changing economic environment, my colleagues recognized (and adapted to) “big picture” business challenges that I often barely noticed.

I realized that my limited education would eventually limit my success; so I saved my money, resigned my position, went back to school full-time, and ultimately completed graduate school. My early business experience was extremely valuable; but without my education, my life would have been much less fulfilling.

Timothy G. Wiedman, Doane College

7. College Is For Corporate Soldiers (Not Me)

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In a minute I’d take Peter Thiel’s offer, and would strongly encourage my kids to if entrepreneurship is a passion for them.

As a business owner (4 businesses now) who works with hundreds of other entrepreneurs, I’ve found that college generally teaches you how to be a good corporate soldier who thinks inside the box while costing at minimum tens of thousands of dollars and 4-5 years of life.

For the people who need to work for others because they aren’t driven enough or aren’t yet mature enough for entrepreneurship, college is perfect.

But for those who are ready to be on their own, the sheer amount of time and money to attend college would be much better invested on their first business gaining valuable experience while getting a huge head start.

I am even strongly considering buying each of my kids a franchise to give them control and tee them up for the future in a much bigger way than learning how to party at the frat and sorority houses while being trained to work for others.

Craig Hohnberger, LinkedIn

8. For The Experience!

Given the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity (and age) to participate I would take Thiel’s offer of $100,000 to build a company instead of going to college. I’ve already gone through a bachelors degree and am heading to a top MBA program this fall, but what I’m really learning is the value of doing and experience.

Thiel’s program is well timed since there is little risk with leaving the traditional path to pursue entrepreneurship that early. More important than the money is the alternative education, support and connections that this program provides. Even if your start up is unsuccessful, participants still come out ahead with an awesome resume building experience, great skills and knowledge, and some very powerful allies above and beyond what their college peers will have.

No Debt MBA

9. Not Worth Putting Idea On Hold

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Peter Thiel’s foundation gives young, motivated, entrepreneurs an opportunity to bring their idea to the next level and have the experience of building a company from a very young age. I would absolutely take the 100k over a going to college any day. In todays fast paced, ever evolving business landscape, it is not worth putting an idea off for four years of college that wont give you anywhere near the experience that you will learn in your first three months of running your own company.

Paypal Co-founder Elon Musk says it best, University is a tremendously valuable experience, but when entrepreneurs are ready to launch, they should do so immediately, rather that sticking around to satisfy expectations of a full four year college or eight of grad school.

Nate Drouin, Fundraise.com

Why You Should Not

10. College Was Invaluable For Me


I recently graduated from a small, liberal arts college at 19, so my perspective on whether to take Peter Thiel’s offer is not exactly simple. This is because the day after I graduated, I launched a social media marketing startup in Dallas, Tx called Dornon-Robertson Developments. We’re currently shopping around for seed funding, so the $100,000 would be fantastic for our firm.

However, the well-rounded and deep liberal arts education I got at my alma mater, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Tx, was far more valuable than any angel investment ever could be. If this trend of skipping college to found startups becomes more popular, I would be wary to encourage people who want the sort of education I got to skip it.

Andrew Dornon, Dornon-Robertson Developments

11. It Won’t Be Your Company

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I would not take the $100K to skip college and build a company. First and foremost, the company you’re building would not be your own and you’d be building something off a great idea for someone else. In my opinion, better to go to college AND start a great business at the same time so that you’re balancing long-term security (with a college education) with short-term potential (in building something that YOU are driving which is yours and might have huge upside without having to defer control).

If you attend college and build out a great idea in the meantime, that $100K will be a drop in the bucket anyway – plus, it just isn’t that costly to start a business these days. I simply wouldn’t want to give away control or ownership to anyone else if I didn’t have to, and most of the time you can learn about running a business while in college.

Mike Sprouse, www.mikesprouse.com

12. Character, Confidence, Friendships At College


I would not trade my college education for $100,000. As I run my company and enjoy the entrepreneurial freedom, I always think that if the going got tough, I would always have my education to fall back on. Going to college is invaluable. More than an institution of education, it is a place to build character and confidence, learn and expand thinking, make friendships and hone disciplinary skills. Plus, one can always start a business “while” in college – a true lesson in balance, focus and determination.

Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation

From The TBF Community

13. Yes- Learn Faster

Quite frankly I think if you enjoy a topic then you should go; you’ll learn more from somebody with a doctorate about it then you would studying it on your own; for example I want to study Economics; I can’t teach myself econometrics easily. Not to mention; outer-course events and so forth can be extremely valuable.

JWInvestments, J W Wright Financial

13. Yes- Be Lightyears Ahead

If you do take the offer, and are successful with your venture, then you’ll be years ahead than most college grads will be when they finish. And you’ll meet the right people as you go along. If you are not successful, you can just swallow the lesson learnt and go back to college-or home. I think i’d take it.

malaika, Succeeding To The Maximum

14. No- Missing Out On Youth

My answer is… No. There are a lot of things you learn in college (not counting school). A big part of who you are is defined in college. A lot of your good friends are made in college. In essence, you would miss the college experience. I heard from entrepreneurs that they missed out on many things of their youth because of their business. Skipping college shouldn’t be one of them.

bond, Teen Business Forum

15. No- College Helped The Dropouts

I’ll definitely not take it up.

Plus they (Drop-out self made millionaires) are testament to the fact that college actually helps. And take away college and they wouldn’t have probably achieved what they did.

mtnjkwe, NJMART.IN

16. No- Not Worth Skipping Further Education

I heard about this the other week when one of the fellows was talking to me about being given a fellowship, bragging over their $50,000 a year. I was like “heh, you’re bragging to the wrong person – it takes me less than two weeks to earn that – and I went to college.”

Anyway, the short answer is – no, I wouldn’t take his offer.
He offers you advice etc. and $100,000 (or $50,000 a year) – I wouldn’t say it was worth skipping further education.

I’d say go to college, get a good degree then get a job which pays $50,000+ a year. There may not be many jobs that pay $50,000 that you can go straight into after college, but statistically the average income of someone with a good degree from a reputable college is $100,000+.

benwmsonline, Premiere Entertainment UK

17. No- Meet People Of Common Interests

College dropouts still went to college…!

Besides the fact you might actually learn something, you meet smart people with common interests and *can have a whole lots of fun*.

Fryed7, Your Teen Business

18. No- Skipping The Best Times Of Your Life

No I would not take even though it would be a great experience it’s a huge change, and it’s more than just an experience it’s affecting your latter life, and it’s almost like your skipping some of the best years of your life

Gabe, GamerPress

Created By:

Chief Community Officer at TeenBusinessForum. I believe that successful and ethical entrepreneurs make the world a better place. To make that a reality, I help empower teen entrepreneurs that will be the next generation of business leaders.


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