“We have a society where successful people are encouraged to go to college,” said Peter Thiel during a 60 Minutes interview last night about a program he’s sponsored paying students to drop out of college. “But…it’s a mistake to think that that’s what makes people successful.”
Here’s the full segment:
I’ve written about Mr. Thiel’s efforts to change America’s thinking about higher education before.
We can talk about how government policy has distorted higher education markets, inflating the cost of education and diminishing the value of a degree, but we should remember that the policy was put in place to satisfy American obsession with higher education.
There is this assumption that the only path to prosperity and success is through college. That’s why you hear politicians talk all the time about wanting to send very American kid to college. But college is just one means to an end. There are a lot of ways to find prosperity, and running up 5 or 6 figures in student loan debt to get a college degree isn’t necessarily the best way. Or even a way.
America’s attitude about higher education, and the government policy that has followed it, has been great for the higher education industry. Employment for faculty – and even more so administrators – is high, and compensation is extremely lucrative and growing more so all the time. But it hasn’t been so great for America.