10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs SHOULD Enroll in College

10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs SHOULD Enroll in College

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Entrepreneur Successful In College

It’s easy for young entrepreneurs struggling to break through to blame college for their delayed success. After all, they wouldn’t have this problem had they not wasted years earning a useless piece of paper, right? They can become fully equipped to run their own business without it, right?

Jason Smith seems to think so, according to his “10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Never Enroll in College.” Well, here I am to play devil’s advocate; let’s take a look at why college is still worth it for entrepreneurs.

 

The 10 Reasons Why College Is Good For Entrepreneurs

 

1. It will build your professional network and open doors for you

Networking is perhaps the most important benefit of college and a must-have for entrepreneurs. If your main competition for that new contract is someone who went to college with the potential client, who do you think has the edge? College will also teach you how to work with people from all walks of life, allowing you to be confident and personable no matter what the situation.

 

2. You will learn to think critically

College is a great learning opportunity in many ways – not the least of these is the fact that you will often question what you learn. This is a place for you to develop critical thinking skills. A truly well-rounded individual can clearly address any question and think about both sides of the argument. Finding your own answers and explanations in a collegiate setting will help you to deftly handle assessing a multitude of situations in the future.

 

3. You gain a fall back plan

Everyone wants to be the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, or Steve Jobs. They never finished college; why do you need to? Hate to break it to you, they’re the outliers. For every one Steve Jobs, there are thousands of entrepreneurs who were confident in their business, only to realize that they didn’t understand their market, their customer, their financials, etc. Those people had a few options: fail, or learn and succeed. Throughout college you probably failed a few times and if absolute worse comes to worse, you have a degree to go out and get a steady job to give you a safety net while you work on your business.

 

4. You earn credibility

Besides showing mastery in a subject, a degree shows that you were committed enough to spend 4+ years studying, and are thus a far more reliable individual than someone who spent their post-high school years in their basement. When your company bio proudly displays your picture, what credibility will stand out next to it? The next time you look at a successful venture, check and see if (and where) the owner went to college. You’ll notice most of them did.

 

5. The experience is irreplaceable

They say it’s the best four years of your life… well, it’s a great start. Without college, you miss out on the great times that your peers are having, the lessons they learn, and the experiences they have: living on your own, meeting friends, the Greek system, sleeping through an exam, joining an organization you never thought you would like and much more. Much is made of college’s academic benefits, but it’s truly an intriguing time in all other areas.

 

6. You will learn diverse subjects

College gets a bad rap for its “traditional” educational style. Traditions are still used for good reasons too. The seemingly useless courses will show you how to handle different subjects, no matter what you encounter in life. You may wonder why you have to take environmental science as an aspiring tech entrepreneur, but five years down the line when you are trying to establish greener energy to run your company this class might suddenly seem a lot more important. The traditional education experience creates a person prepared for many challenges in life.

 

7. You will develop and appreciate more individualism

All you need to do is watch College Game Day on any given weekend to see that there are no two people on a campus that are alike. College is an opportunity to become you. For most, it’s their first opportunity. College is (or, should be) based on you pursuing your passion for the first time. You pick your major. You pick your classes. Everything is up to YOU. This time of your life gives you the opportunity to explore what makes you tick, which may play a big part in the company culture you want to have within your startup.

 

8. Diversification is everywhere

Up until the end of high school, you’re surrounded with the same people. These people usually come from very similar socio-economic and demographic backgrounds. How boring! From the second you get to college, you meet a whole new potential market that may be completely different than you. You meet international students, inner-city kids, rednecks, redheads – everyone. Democrats? Meet Republicans. Republicans? Well… hopefully you’ll meet a few Democrats. But overall, guess what? Everyone lives differently. They all approach problems differently. It’s definitely beneficial to experience firsthand the global village that exists outside of our hometown. How will this help your company? Diversification will give you the chance to see what skills you need to look for when hiring your first employees, who your ideal clients will be, and how they think.

 

9. You will take on the challenge of risk-taking

In College, mom and dad are no longer there to watch you. Take advantage of that. Mix your red laundry with whites – who’s going to stop you? Join clubs you never thought about. Spelunking? There’s a club for that. Nonpartisan politics? There’s a club for that. College campuses pride themselves in having everything available. Almost every campus now has entrepreneurship clubs; why not run your idea by the members and advisors of the organization? There is your temporary Board of Advisors! Entrepreneurship is about taking (calculated) risks. College will teach you how. You build confidence in a relatively safe – not to mention less embarrassing and less costly – environment.

 

10. It’s okay to let loose

Traditionally, college is a transition point from adolescence to adulthood. In many ways, it’s an opportunity to “get it all out of your system.” Partying, late nights, all sorts of things – these are learning experiences. Once you leave college, it’s time to buckle down and be serious. College is good for getting a little bit of the party animal out of the way before you start your own business.

 

It may seem as though college is an unneeded expense, but believe you me; when you get out into the real world, you will be ten steps ahead at every turn. Beyond that, you will be happier having had the experience of those four years. Your degree is your friend. Without it, you’ll end up lost in a world in which college is becoming more and more necessary to have the skills to start your own business.

 

 

Dr. Greg BierAuthor Bio: Dr. Greg Bier is a Professor of Management at the University of Missouri. He leads the newly formed Entrepreneurship Alliance at the University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business.

He is also a partner with Entrepreneur MO (www.mo.com). Follow Greg on Twitter at @gregbier.

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. Hi. Liked reading both points of view and there’s one aspect that was “forgotten” and that is, if you leave college before graduating, and down the road, you discover that you need some of information/skills that a college course or degree will give you, you can always go back!! I did. I left a Biology masters program, worked part-time as a self-employed musician for almost 15 years, and then got tired of that and returned to the 9-5 work force, and eventually got my PhD – started back part-time and then transitioned to full-time w/ teaching assistant. The point is, in today’s world, you can move in and out of any system, pretty much at will, and get what you need when you need it!

    There was one backhand stab at teachers in the “Don’t need College” article though that has always irritated me and it comes from that old mentality of “those who can, do, those who can’t, teach”. BS through and through. Many teachers I have had both in and out of college teach because they love to teach and have lots to offer to those who are ready to receive. And their accomplishments in the varied fields of research they pursue have shaped the world we live in and saved millions upon millions of lives. Like on any Bell curve, there are always outliers but to denigrate a whole profession because of a few bad apples is ignorant, unfeeling and unprofessional. Teachers deserve better.

    Having said that, thanks for the chance to voice an opinion and for two good debates on the issue!

  2. Hi. I just liked this post. But i think that people in college sometimes doesn’ t understand that reality, ’cause they are inmature and they just Wanna have fun. You have to be clear about your future and the things you Wanna achieve, and at that age sometimes it’s very difficult.
    Anyway, great article.

    Regards

  3. When I started student magazine, we had no intention of becoming entrepreneurs or starting a business but we had to sell magazines too keep the business running.

    It wasn’t a difficult decision to make although my parents were hoping I would become a lawyer like my father. However I struggled in school and decided that a ‘higher education’ wouldn’t be beneficial.

    I have been very lucky and successful all thanks to the great people in my businesses. I now advocate rather than entrepreneurs go to college or university, they start their own business and use those years to build something great!

    Richard

    • Great stuff! I love your site. I will frequent it often for motivation and empowerment. This article confirmed what I know school(college) is beneficial!

  4. I agree with everything but have one more very important reason. You will make friends and business contacts that will stay with you forever. In addition to the people you will meet, is just the fact that alumni stick together. In most large schools, especially the ones with football teams, the alumni still refer to themselves by the team name. For example, everyone who attends the U of Florida refers to themselves as “gators”. You can look up other “gators” in any town in the country and have an instant friend who will help if they can.

    • Bob, you are so right! I have many friends and contacts from my years in school that I still keep in contact with on a personal and professional level. I have also kept in contact with many of my students, providing references and recommendations it’s great to see where the world takes them after they leave my classroom. Mizzou definitely has a similar almuni base, the “Tigers” are always willing to help another Tiger in need!

      • I thinks its very personal which way to go. Either way its will take focus and hard work. Even if you don’t go to college a person can improve there networking ability by being more sociable. They can go to SBAs seminars. I think a person has to have the time to put into their business. I don’t think Bill, Mark or any other guy dropped out because school sucked. I think they realize that they only needed to focus on that one goal, without studying for a Math test. Mark Zukerberg parent had him taking computer courses a young kid. College is a great achievement But no one should every think they would fail if they didn’t go. If its really a dream from the heart then you will give your all and stay motivated on either journey. You have to know in your heart that thats would you want to do. I never been to college but I have a local graphic company and doing well. Everyone is unique in their own way. Putting GOD first and going in like a champ you never fail but no trying you will.

  5. Neil,

    Great comment! I agree with everything you mentioned. I’m currently in the crossroads of staying in college, or stopping it to use more free time to devote to business and just enjoying life. I think life is too short to spend lots of time on things you don’t want to do. I would hate to lose the social aspect of it and that’s whats bothering me the most. As for self education, yes you always have to keep learning and growing. “Don’t let school get in the way of your good education,” is something I apply on the daily.

    Did you dropout to start a business? If so let me know how its going, what its about, etc.

    Thanks for sharing that comment

    • Gabriel,

      Thanks for reading! That’s definitely a tough decision, and I’m glad I was able to give you some perspective on the pros of staying in school. I wish you the best of luck with whichever path you choose to take.

  6. I agree with both opinions of Joel and Greg.

    Entrepreneurs must make their own choice. Whether they should enroll in college or not. It must be their own decision.

    Take the first step.The most important thing is you need to keep learning. In fact, I myself was a student in a University, but not until I decided to stop schooling to follow my dreams and passion. It took me 2 years before I took the decision. Yes, I was 2 years in college and I was a good student with good grades(Dean’s list) and having a great time socializing with different types of people. I’ve been in different organizations. I was even a varsity player of football since I am an athletic kind of person. I believe in traditional education, it is GOOD. But self-education is BETTER. If you decide going to college just to secure a job and you don’t know any other purpose, then you’re absolutely going to fail. And if you decide not to enroll in college just because you’re lazy and don’t want to interact with people, you’re also going to fail. The lesson here I want to point out is that regardless of which way you want to walk, you must know yourself and keep learning. You must know where you stand and act on it.

    Experience is the key here. Take risks. Double your rate of failure to succeed. I understand the fear, just take the first step and act on your specific goal. Entrepreneurs must have a core value of an entrepreneur. Keep educating yourself even if you’re in college or not, in a classroom or in your mom’r basement, that’s the key. Never stop learning.

    • Exactly Neil! I’m tired of this back & forth argument about college or no college (ironically most are made by people who haven’t founded anything). People are confusing our entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs should shut the noise and follow their hearts. It’s a cat & box problem. You drop out, it will work out somehow, because you dropped out. If you go to college, it will work out in a way that makes it look like it wouldn’t had you not dropped out of college.

      • Mike and Niel, Thanks for reading and starting the conversation! You are right, the decision of whether or not to go to college is very personal. Everyone’s situation is different and it is definitely a situation that each entrepreneur must make for themselves. With that being said, although college may set you back a few years it will also provide you with experiences and opportunities that you can’t get elsewhere. The key is making the most of your time and using this to your advantage.

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