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Making The Grade

College programs offer real-world business experience.

University students today no longer covet management positions with high salaries and stable pension plans. Scared off by the downsiz- ing of corporate America, they're becoming entrepreneurs instead.

Nationwide, schools of entrepreneurship are turning these talented students--and their fledgling businesses--out into the world. And because students who double as business owners can access state-of-the-art computers, research libraries and entrepreneurial professors who give free business advice, they're in a critical position to prepare themselves for the real world.

But even with such incentives, college entrepreneurship has its pitfalls. "It's difficult to give the business the attention it needs," says William D. Bygrave, director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. "And if the business grows rapidly, the student might drop out of school."

Jeremy Weiner, founder of Cover-It, a textbook-cover manufacturer in Boston, agrees. "At times, I was very close to quitting college," he says. "I had to say no to sales, and it hindered my company's growth."

Upon graduating, students must decide whether to continue without the support of parents and college loans. "When [college entrepreneurs] leave school, they're no longer surrounded by friends and family," says Bygrave. "They suddenly have overhead, and the business has to support them with an adequate income."

For most students schooled in entrepreneurship, however, the independence is well worth the risks.

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This article was originally published in the November 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making The Grade.

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