Articles

The High Costs of Startup Education

Vijar Kohli
August 28, 2020
5
 MIN
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Articles
August 28, 2020
5
 MIN

The High Costs of Startup Education

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Startups are a Good Investment

Billion dollar valuations. Unlimited paid time off. And flexible work schedules.

If you think startups are glamorous, remember...being self-employed is easy, staying so is hard. But the learning curve to launching a product is exponential.

To Follow or Fellow

Eccentric billionaire, Peter Thiel, launched the Thiel Fellowship in 2010.

The program is designed for students under the age of 23 to drop out of school to pursue other forms of work. This may include science, business, or social impact. Students would receive $100,000 for two years plus other resources.

The acceptance rate is below 0.1%.

Why Apply for a Fellowship?

When I was in college, I was skeptical about this program. The lack of social interaction and college degree would be a major handicap in one’s career. But boy was I wrong.

Several Thiel Fellows have had a major impact on the world. Some notable recipients include Vitalik Buterin, the co-creator of Ethereum, and Ritesh Agarwal, the founder of OYO and the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

Another Luminary is Rising

Self-driving cars need smart sensors. Austin Russell, a 23-year old Thiel Fellow, started Luminar, a self-driving car technology company.

This week the company went public through a reverse merger valued at $3.4 billion. This was a major deal. Luminar is riding the smart-car wave. Smart investors are backing this new lidar technology and betting big on autonomous cars.

This is the beginning of the smart revolution. And a change in education as we know it.

Colleges are Bankrupt

Homeschooling has had a major impact on the work from home environment. Parents were not prepared to juggle summer camps and online education at peak pandemic.

Less prepared are the college students starting the college semester to enter the workforce.

Don’t Overpay for Education

In a LinkedIn poll, I asked my followers what students should do this upcoming year. Instead of enrolling in college, pollsters recommended taking a year off. Or using tuition money to launch a business.

In another post, I suggested if ten college students withdrew their upcoming $50k tuition payments, they could put together $500k to start a company.

If they gave up four years of college tuition ($200k each), they would have $2m to start. The learning experiences from a new business would be 100x any college degree.

The Problem with Bankrupt Colleges

Some colleges are offering a 10-15% discount for on-campus fall classes. I’ve seen pictures of empty cafeterias with the full cost of room & board.

Colleges are not doing anyone a favor with these terms. Students have the power to make their own choice. And deferring the fall semester is a good one.

Online Education is a Clear Winner

2020 has been painful for all physical businesses, including universities. No employer would look down on a student if they took the fall semester off.

In fact, if students took online courses, picked up a new hobby, or launched a small business, it would look more favorable. Online education is free and many technology programs like Lambda School will help you find a job with no degree.

If you know anyone going to college this fall, I would recommend deferring classes until the spring. It’s not worth the risk during a national pandemic.

Standardized Global Education

My free billion dollar, startup idea is to rebuild global education from scratch.

The Khan Academy started this revolution in 2008. But it has a lot more potential.

Across the world, K-12 students have different learning curriculums. Many of those students have access to more information on their phone then we ever had in the past.

Why aren’t Elementary Curriculums Accessible Online?

Every K-12 student should be learning the same fundamental ideas.

If I was a parent, I would want to know more about my child’s classes. These are fundamental teachings that carry through everyone’s life. If this was online, more people could contribute to it, parents could better understand the core curriculum and students could speed up learning.

A standard curriculum must be public and accessible to everyone online.

My thoughts on a New Core Curriculum

The core curriculum must be simple, which would include math, history and science. Those are fact based and universal. History doesn't change, countries simply tell their own side of the story. So there is a lot of improvement to be made.

As for literature, languages and cultures, those are added layers and unique to every country. Students should have a choice of which ones they want to learn.

Creating a modular curriculum with the same core curriculum would standardize the learning curve. Students can build on this themselves in their personal time.

The Internet has Democratized Education

We can standardize fast if we use the internet instead of relying on local school systems for resources. It would be like the World Health Organization but with a leaner team. This can be executed in less than one year. Implementation would take much longer.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on education. Email or Message me if you have any feedback.

I’m publishing this series to discuss tech stocks and trends. Please subscribe to my Financier series to follow my latest commentary.

You can find the rest of my content on the TechFinancier, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay in touch.

Episode Transcript

Vijar Kohli
Tech Investor

Vijar Kohli is the founder of the TechFinancier. He discusses the latest industry changes and interviews all podcast guests.