Phi Beta Cons

Where Are the Entrepreneurs?

We’ve all heard arguments against the prevailing wisdom that “everyone should go to college”—we’ve even written them! But in the Washington Post last month, entrepreneur Peter Thiel (of PayPal and Facebook fame) offered a fresh perspective. He explained that pushing everyone into college will damage our economy.

“Instead of doing something new,” the top college graduates tend to go into safe fields such as investment banking and management consulting. They merely “jockey to collect rents from old industries instead of working to create new ones that could raise the standard of living for everyone.”

That’s why the iconic figures he mentions—Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerman, and Steve Jobs—are important illustrations. “They aren’t famous because of the similar ways in which they left school,” he said, but “because of what each of them did differently from everybody else.”

And there’s more in that little op-ed, such as his comparison of the university and the Catholic Church in the 16th century. “A Reformation is coming, and its message will be the same as it was 500 years ago: Don’t outsource your future to a big institution. You need to figure it out for yourself.”

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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