Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, is famous for predicting bubbles, first the Nasdaq crash in 2000 and next, the housing bubble in 2008. Now he argues that the next inflated market in the United States that's about to burst is education.
In an interview with TechCrunch he argues:
“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”
For Thiel, the promise of a Harvard education doesn't hold the return that the belief in pursuing it provides. To prove this, he's launching a social experiment, looking for 20 kids under 20, giving them $100,000 and mentoring them to start their own businesses. Well and good in proving that a college education does not a successful entrepreneur make.
But Thiel's very experiment proves that access to limited networks and money can be a strong foundation for success. The kids in his program will be mentored by Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs. They'll be given $100,000 over two years. Less than a Harvard education but certainly way more than what one would shell out for a state school. Harvard may be overrated, but education itself certainly isn't. It provides access and opportunity -- at different levels.