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Editorial: The entrepreneur’s case for college

Everywhere you look, it seems like college dropouts are building massive Fortune 500 companies and chic startups; however, this is misleading. The reality is that most successful entrepreneurs have a college degree – and you should consider pursuing one, too.


The exceptions, not the rule

Everywhere you look, it seems like college dropouts are building massive Fortune 500 companies and chic startups; however, this is misleading. The reason is that you never hear successful founders or CEOs referred to as “college graduates.” The media only picks up on “college dropouts.” The reality is that most successful entrepreneurs have a college degree – and you should pursue one, too.


The benefits of obtaining a college degree

For many high school seniors across the country, the idea of going to college is pretty much a given. However, in the face of rising costs, looming student loan debts, and the inspiration of successful dropouts, many who would otherwise attend college are rethinking their options. It’s always good to evaluate a major life choice, but don’t forget the following benefits of obtaining a college degree.

  1. Initial Job Opportunities

In most cases, an entrepreneur gets his start by working for a business and then branching off on his own. While you may not need a college degree for the latter, you’ll probably need one to land an initial job opportunity.

“You’ll find that many organizations, especially huge companies that are loaded down with institutional bureaucracy, are bound by hard-and-fast educational requirements for their posted jobs,” writes IT professional Tim Warner. “These requirements often can’t be bypassed even if you do know the right person or people inside the organization.”

If for nothing else, it’s wise to obtain a college degree so that you can get your foot in the door and launch your career. Think of it as a spark. A spark may not provide the warmth of a fire, but it’s what gives the fire a start.

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  1. Networking

Going to college isn’t just about sitting in a classroom, passing exams, and getting a diploma. Even more valuable than the classroom experience is the chance you get to rub shoulders with experienced professors and likeminded peers. This networking aspect of college will help you for years to come.

  1. School Resources

Depending on the school and program you enroll in, you may be able to leverage your school’s resources to jumpstart your career in entrepreneurship. Some schools provide students with career centers, internship opportunities, access to incubators and accelerators, and training programs. These can help you get a taste of the “real world” while you’re still in school.

  1. Backup Plan

Unfortunately, entrepreneurship doesn’t always work out. Startups fail, ideas flounder, and bigger corporate jobs sometimes call your name. Even if you’re 100 percent set on starting your own business, a college degree is something valuable you can stick in your back pocket. Should your plans fail or change, you can rest assured knowing there’s an alternative path available.

Top colleges for entrepreneurship in 2016

If you want the best of both worlds, why not get a degree in entrepreneurship? This allows you to maximize your time in school while simultaneously moving in the right direction.

For undergraduates, the top schools for entrepreneurship in 2016 include Babson College, Brigham Young University, the University of Houston, Baylor University, and Northwestern University.

For graduates, the top programs are found at Harvard University, Babson College, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and Northwestern University.

Don’t fall for the dropout myth

Can college dropouts and those who avoid higher education altogether enjoy entrepreneurial success? Absolutely. However, these people are the exception to the rule. In the majority of instances, successful entrepreneurs go to school, learn from the experience, leverage the credibility of a degree, and then launch successful careers. Don’t fall for the myth that college is a waste of your time. As we’ve discussed, it can be beneficial for a multitude of reasons.


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Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.



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