Photo of Peter Thiel in an interview.
Peter Thiel is offering $100,000 to drop out of school. CC by Robert Scoble/Flickr

Peter Thiel got famous by putting up money for Facebook. An extreme libertarian, he’s made a name for himself by living large. He put himself in the spotlight last month by announcing the Thiel Fellowship, a controversial grant of $100,000 for young students who want to drop out of college and market the next big idea.

What is the Thiel Fellowship?

Peter Thiel’s Thiel Fellowship will award 20 entrepreneurs 20 or younger with grants of up to $100,000. In a press release, Thiel said some of the innovations that changed the world the most were created by college dropouts who had “ideas that couldn’t wait until graduation.” Thiel himself made billions with PayPal, the Clarium hedge fund and Facebook. He talked about Elon Musk who sold Zip2 to Compaq for $307 million after dropping out of college to start it.

Peter Thiel loved and hated for offer

The reaction to Peter Thiel’s $100,000 offer to drop out of school has been negative and positive. Thiel’s offer deflects college students from “from the love of knowledge to the love of money.” That is what Jacob Weisberg at the Slate explained while also saying Thiel’s ego is too big as he tries to encourage students to be like him. Another opinion rose up too. Nick Saint at Business Insider said, “it’s ridiculous to suggest that most people who go to college do so from the love of knowledge for its own sake.” Reason’s Jesse Walker explains that those in the Thiel Fellowship program won’t actually be emulating Thiel, who has a graduate degree.

The opinion of Thiel from a university

There have been opinions about the Thiel Fellowship program from higher education as well. Thiel was invited by Dr. Jeff Cornwall at Belmont University to come visit some programs. Thiel is coming for one reason, says Cornwall. He wants to show Thiel all the students and alumni at the school who came back to get an education after dropping out to pursue their own interests because they knew they needed something else.

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