On 9th March 2020, during his speech at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C., Elon Musk was questioned about what is the need for higher education post the schooling level. His answer echoed what his former partner Peter Thiel had said back in 2011.
What Did Musk Say?
Musk mentioned how one does not need to go to college if they want to learn anything. According to him, value is seeing if a person can be dedicated to working hard at something or not. Musk also mentioned how colleges are “basically for fun” and that learning is not what takes place in such institutes.
Back in 2011, Peter Theil, the co-founder of PayPal was paying college students and encouraging them to drop out. They were guided to start their own star-ups that can change the world. Now Musk too seems to hold similar thoughts.
What Is The Thiel Fellowship?
A Thiel Fellowship program exists where anyone aged 22 or less can apply for a $100,000 grant that lasts for two years. The directive here is to “build new things instead of sitting in a classroom”. The only condition is that college students must drop out if they want to be a part of this program.
Musk says a smart engineer makes dumb mistakes by optimizing something that doesn't exist.
"Don't optimize something that doesn't exist."
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) March 9, 2020
Thiel has been an open supporter of Trump during the presidential campaign in 2016. He blames the liberalism on higher education by the Silicon Valley and even went on record to say that too much education can get students “brainwashed”. This was from a podcast with Dave Rubin in 2018.
Elon Musk is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania while Thiel completed his law degrees and undergraduate course from Stanford. Despite the skepticism of Thiel and Musk, on Musk’s companies- SpaceX has most jobs where a bachelor’s degree or higher education is a basic requirement.
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