Stay In School: Five Reasons Why Wannabe Entrepreneurs Should Pursue Higher Education

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Much has been written on the fact that wildly successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg are college dropouts. So much so that some college students with dreams of launching their own startups may be tempted to follow suit.


While there are certainly success stories involving college dropouts, the truth is that a large number of people will benefit personally and professionally from completing their degrees. Even better, many colleges and universities are recognizing that more and more students would rather launch their own businesses than work for someone else. Before you blow off college in favor of launching your company, keep reading. There may be more value in staying in school than you realize- here are five factors to consider.

1. Entrepreneurship education is becoming more commonplace

One of the reasons that many emerging entrepreneurs drop out of college is that they feel as if colleges and universities don’t offer anything that helps them pursue their goals. They don’t want a degree that will prepare them to work for someone else. They want a degree that will prepare them for the unique challenges of launching a business, then creating growth.

Fortunately, many colleges and universities are taking heed. They are creating degree or programs and courses of studies within degree programs that enable students to learn entrepreneurial skills. According to a recent report by the Innovation Cluster for Entrepreneurship Education, students who are enrolled in entrepreneurship programs experience multiple benefits including:

• Students participating in mini-companies within educational institutions tend to be more motivated, attend the school happier and more frequently, and ultimately improve their performance compared when compared to peers enrolled in other programs.

• Pursuing entrepreneurship education also has a positive impact on academic performance in other subjects and supports development of all key competences for lifelong learning.

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2. There are more options available for business professionals to earn degrees

Many entrepreneurs are already busy at work on their empires or actively working in their fields while they are still in college. If school gets in the way of their success, it’s tempting to drop out. According to a survey conducted by Georgetown University, 70% of students tend to work while enrolled and up to 25% of full-time students are also full-time workers. And most of them need flexibility and an education to meet their needs.

Students who want to complete their education while pursuing their goals should look for schools that respect their dreams and give them options that work. This could mean offering an online MBA, giving students the opportunity to design their degree programs, or ensuring that course offerings and class schedules work for student entrepreneurs and working adults.

3. Higher education builds critical skills, and brings important life experience

Let’s be honest. There are still skills and experiences that simply cannot be picked up anywhere except in college. For example, the Aston business management degree gives students the opportunity to learn how to review financial statements and create pricing strategies. These are important skills that can’t always be picked up through informal experiences.

It’s also important to remember that starting a business in some industries requires meeting certain licensing requirements or obtaining certifications. In many cases the best path to obtaining these is through a college or university program.

4. Alumni networks are ideal for networking

College is also a time for creating lifelong connections and friendships. These are wonderful on a personal level, but they also have professional benefits. Entrepreneurs face many challenges. These include getting new clients and earning the investment funding that they need. While graduating college is no guarantee of success, alumni associations are known as breeding grounds for networking opportunities. In fact, up to 85% of jobs and work-related opportunities are found via networking. Up to 84% solo entrepreneurs earning $100,000+ per year have also reported that most of the opportunities come to them through word-of-mouth.  

For entrepreneurs, these networks can be priceless. Fellow students, sorority and fraternity mates, instructors all have the opportunity to be future clients, associates or investors. More importantly, there are many people who actively seek to support and do business with people within their alumni communities.

5. Many potential clients and investors see value in a college education

College may not be for everyone, but the truth is having a college degree does carry a lot of weight. Keep in mind that Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers are still a very active part of the economy, and they see a college education as being valuable on a few fronts. First, they believe that having a college education simply makes an entrepreneur more qualified. They also believe that obtaining a college degree illustrates a certain work ethic and tenacity.

The decision to stay in college and pursue a degree or to take a different path is a complex one. Unfortunately, because so many stories have been published about successful college dropouts, a perceptive imbalance has been created. In reality, a large number of entrepreneurs will absolutely benefit from pursuing higher education.

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