The two dozen winners of technology tycoon Peter Thiel’s $100,000, “20 under 20” scholarships won’t be using that money at Princeton University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Mr. Thiel is paying them to not go to college and instead chase their entrepreneurial dreams for the next two years.
One of the winners, Nick Cammarata, an 18-year-old from Newburyport, Mass., plans to work with 17-year-old David Merfield of Princeton, N.J., on software to upend the standard approach to teaching in high school classrooms. Another winner wants to create a mobile banking system for the developing world. Another is working to create cheaper biofuels.
Mr. Thiel, a law school graduate who co-founded the online payment service PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, said he believes that innovation has stagnated in the United States and that the best young minds can contribute more to society by skipping college and bringing their ideas straight to the world.
A version of this article appeared in the June 08, 2011 edition of Education Week as Mogul Pays Bright Minds Not to Go to College