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Learning Curve A class consulting project can be a great way to learn entrepreneurship.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Traditional wisdom holds that college is theory time, while real-world learning comes later. Traditional wisdom would be wrong, though, if you're talking about today's entrepreneurship courses, which emphasize projects with real-life components. That's because students today are learning entrepreneurship not only from books and professors, but also from in-class projects where they consult for outside businesses.

It's a win-win for both students and business owners, says Michael P. Verchot, director of the Business and Economic Development Program at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Very often in academic settings, you take distinct classes--accounting, marketing, finance--but you don't see how all that fits together," he says. "Working as a consultant with a small business . . . just weaves everything together."

The Business and Economic Development Program, for example, gives students the chance to consult for local small businesses, from restaurants and auto repair shops to professional services firms. "It takes away the mystery of what being an entrepreneur is," says Verchot. "Students walk away saying, 'Look at how hard running a business really is.'"

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