Roger Kimball notes that the higher education tide is starting to turn:

The current, and the money, is beginning to flow the other way. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, has read the tea leaves,  seen the pattern in the carpet, and felt the shifting winds of change.  Here’s the relevant headline form The Chronicle of So-Called Higher Education:

 Thiel Fellowship Pays 24 Talented Students $100,000 Not to Attend College

The most important data point is not the 100,000 smackeroos but the word “talented.”

Mr. Thiel is not interested in providing furloughs for the mediocre, the uninspired, the weary, or the time-servers.  He wants to nab tomorrow’s Steve Jobs, the Bill Gates  of 2020, the up-and-coming Peter Thiel who requires not “diversity training” and lessons in how Shakespeare was a colonialist but an atmosphere that encourages real engagement with real-life problems. “The fellowship seeks to help winners develop their ideas more quickly than they would at a traditional university,” the Chronicle reports, adding that “Its broader aim goes beyond helping the 24 winners, by raising big questions about the state of higher education.”

Good. Goooooood.  Raise those questions.

At this point, I am still assuming that, like their aged parents before them, the gels will all go to college and grad school, that they will pick up a liberal arts degree as undergrads – which I believe to be a good in itself so long as it is a quality degree- and then prepare for a profession of some sort.  But of course, these days demand for slots is too fierce and tuition is just too damned high.  Movements like this one will, I hope, apply some corrective market pressures to the situation by, in effect, giving higher ed some serious competition.

It’s another five years before the eldest gel is off.  Hopefully, higher ed will have gone through some meaningful reform by then.

Advertisements