Peter Thiel’s 4 Definitions of Higher Education
Peter Thiel is one of the most underrated thinkers in the Western world currently. His ideas have depth, his analyses are to the point, and his capacity to predict a startup’s success can only be matched with that of Paul Graham, Y Combinator founder.
It is therefore not surprising that Peter Thiel has developed a model to think about education, outlining what it is, what it says it is, and what it is viewed as.
To contextualize Thiel’s views of universities, we need to understand his own educative track.
Peter Thiel’s Life in a Nutshell
Born in Germany to German parents, Thiel moved around extensively with his parents before eventually settling down in California.
After high school, he studied philosophy than law at Stanford. He subsequently went on to work for Wall Street, wrote speeches for politicians, and founded his hedge-fund before going on to set up and develop PayPal which he sold for $1.5 billion to eBay.
He subsequently invested in Facebook (which made him a billionaire), created the data-analysis firm Palantir, and invested in a myriad of other startups.
While these achievements are certainly impressive, the central narrative in Peter Thiel’s identity is other.
In the middle of his high school curriculum, one of Thiel’s classmates wrote into his yearbook a prediction of Thiel’s life.
He wrote that Thiel would get into Stanford to study philosophy, then go on to study law 4 years later and that he would just obtain every credential he wanted, on his way to the top.
And Thiel did.
The pinnacle of his life, the ultimate trophy he hadn’t gotten yet and that he desired above all else, was the Supreme Court clerkship.
Thiel worked hard, demonstrated his skills and value, and finally obtained an interview with two judges. Faced with a 50% chance to get in…he failed.
This failure was one of the most dramatic moments in Peter Thiel’s life.