A Fellowship for College Drop-Outs

Aug 27, 2011

When Steve Jobs dropped out of college he didn’t know where his life was headed. Looking back he was able to “connect the dots” and said that this was the first step on his path to becoming the founder, chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc.

The Thiel Foundation aims to find extraordinary people just like Jobs.  The foundation has established the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellows program, which provides  20 young geniuses $100,000 to create innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow. The kick? They have to drop out of college.

One of this year’s Thiel Fellows, Dale Stephens, had already dropped out of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas to launch UnCollege, a nonprofit that helps teens educate themselves outside the conventional university system.

“I created my education, essentially hacked it by leveraging the resources of the world around me,” said Stephens, who had been homeschooled since 6th grade.  “You can do the same thing at the collegiate level.” Read more.

Only 2 of the 20 Thiel Fellows are women – Laura Demming, who plans to commercialize anti-aging research, and Eden Full, who started a solar energy start-up that deploys her patent-pending inventions.