Paypal Founder Pays Kids to Quit College

Paypal Founder Pays Kids to Quit College
  • Opening Intro -

    Who wants to quit college?

    Perhaps many of you who are reading this.

    Certainly, college isn't for everyone, but the reasons why some students want to quit has nothing to do with academic boredom or their own inability to find direction in their lives.


There are students who possess an innovative idea, one that they want to see come to fruition, except that college is currently standing in the way.

Twenty Under Twenty

Peter Thiel, founder of online payment giant Paypal, is giving some students a lucrative option: quit college and pursue your dreams now. Thiel, who believes that a college education is overvalued and that the college setting can stifle innovation, has set up a $100,000 program through his aptly named Thiel Foundation to help students innovate. Under his “twenty under twenty” program, young students will be given grants of up to $100,000 to produce what he hopes will be breakthrough technologies.

Besides the cash endowment, Thiel’s network of tech entrepreneurs and philanthropists who are drawn from PayPal, Facebook, Palantir Technologies, Founders Fund, the Singularity Institute, and others will instruct grant recipients about creating what he calls “disruptive technologies” and offer mentorship, employment opportunities, support, and training for two years.

Launching Innovators Now

“University is a tremendously valuable experience, but when entrepreneurs are ready to launch, they should do so immediately, rather than sticking around to satisfy expectations of a full four years of college or eight of grad school,” said Elon Musk, who co-founded Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and PayPal. Musk himself stopped out of his graduate program before classes began to co-found his first company Zip2, which he sold to Compaq for $307 million.

A Thiel supporter and innovator in his own right is Scott Bannister, founder of ListBot which is the largest ASP for business email. Bannister, who also started anti-spam company IronPort and sold it to Cisco for $830 million said, “There is absolutely no experience that matches the real world, so if you have the passion and drive and want to work on a great idea, you should just do it.”

Other people who concur with Thiel’s position about leaving college to purse innovative dreams now include William Andregg, CEO and co-founder of Halcyon Molecular and Michael Vassar, president of the nonprofit Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

October 2011 Availability

Students who have scientific, technical and nonprofit ideas are among the candidates the Thiel Fellowship is seeking, but applicants are not limited to those with developed innovations as teams of up to four people may also apply. You’ll have to wait until October 2011 to get an application which will be available on the website and due later in the fall. The fellowship is expected to begin before the end of 2011, which mean grant winners can expect a quick turn around on application review, approval and the start of their fellowships.

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