Paul Graham says,

Most organizations who hire people right out of college are only aware of the average value of 22 year olds, which is not that high…

The most productive young people will always be undervalued by large organizations, because the young have no performance to measure yet, and any error in guessing their ability will tend toward the mean.

His point is that if you are exceptional and young, you should start your own business. That way, you will get more than an average reward.

Graham and I think alike on many issues. Several of the ideas in his talk mirror those in my book on starting a business, Under the Radar. Graham also did a great deal to promote Bayesian spam filters, something that I advocated also. I use a Graham-inspired filter called Popfile.

One of Graham’s points is that young people need experience in figuring out what customers want. In my book, I call this “learning by selling.”

Learning comes from taking on challenges. Entrepreneurship is a constant, in-your-face challenge. Relative to that, college is a stroll in the park.

As Graham points out, the cost of starting a business is plummeting. Given that college expenses are going the other way, the learning-to-cost ratio has shifted in favor of entrepreneurship over college.

Thanks to Michael Mandel for the pointer.

For Discussion. As a parent, could you convince yourself that investing $15,000 in helping your 18-year-old start a business is a reasonable “tuition” payment?