Should Schools Be Teaching Entrepreneurship?

By Sarah Wright

business school entrepreneurship degree

Why Teach Entrepreneurship?

If you're interested in starting your own business from scratch, you might be thinking about a degree program for entrepreneurs. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are available in this field. While a degree isn't formally necessary to have a career as an entrepreneur, the skills and knowledge acquired in one of these degree programs can help you succeed. Typically, entrepreneurship programs cover topics like accounting, economics, communications and management. These are all topics that are likely to come up in a business owner's career, and having a formal understanding of these subjects might be a real lifesaver at some point.

Depending on which classes you choose to take, a degree program in entrepreneurship can help you learn how to manage employees and set your organization up to run as smoothly as possible. Other class topics like business law can help you understand important rules and regulations that can stand in the way of success. These skills are all essential to running a successful business that can withstand hardship and make the most of its resources. It's possible to exit one of these entrepreneurship degree programs armed with information, abilities and connections that can help you get on track to start your business right away.

Do You Really Need a Degree to Succeed?

Even though there are some reasonable arguments in favor of entrepreneurship study, there are some compelling arguments against it. For one, it's not absolutely necessary to have a degree in order to start a business. If you're the boss, you get to set the parameters for what you think a qualified employee will be like. But one strong argument against entrepreneurship degrees is that the day-to-day functions of a successful business can't be taught in a classroom. Can you really learn how to start a successful business by listening to lectures and reading books?

The answer to that question isn't so cut-and-dried. There are aspects of running a business that are subtler than something that can be answered on a multiple choice test. Good customer service can be qualified objectively, but the ability to deliver that service is something that will come with practice. Plus, it's not likely that a customer will select your business based on whether or not you have a college degree. Still, gaining formal skills and knowledge in a degree program can help some people feel more ready to take on the challenge of starting a business. So is there a right path for future entrepreneurs to take?

The Solution for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Students pursuing entrepreneurship degrees are on the right track, but might want to consider altering their course of study a bit. If you're starting your own business, you don't necessarily need a college to prove your worth to anyone, since you'll be your own hiring committee. But what if your business fails? What if you need to apply for another job? A degree in entrepreneurship might be sufficient in some cases, but a general business degree that covers similar topics might be a better way to go.

Since there are plenty of entrepreneurship graduate degrees, it might be a good idea to earn your bachelor's degree in a more general area of business. Then you can focus on entrepreneurship in your final phase of education. Ultimately, there are plenty of ways that earning a college degree can help you succeed in business. And though earning a degree isn't a guarantee that you'll be successful in your efforts to start a business venture, completing the program will help you gain skills, knowledge, connections and focus that you might not be able to get otherwise.

Before making any decisions, be aware that business majors aren't always well prepared for life after college.

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