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Why Entrepreneurs Should Go To College
Have you ever wondered why so many jobs ask for a college degree in order to gain employment? If one has the skill set to perform the job without a college degree, why should they pursuit a degree? Does having a degree really give one the upper hand? Do entrepreneurs need a college degree?
A college education provides financial security and helps an individual to have a competitive edge in the workforce. Not only does a college education help students acquire a job, but it also helps students learn how to make financial investments in viable businesses or to start their own business. Contrary to traditional belief, entrepreneurism is not just about making money and becoming financially independent, nor is it about owning a small business or starting a new venture, it is a way of life. A college education helps equip entrepreneurs with skills that can help them become more effective in their field. While technically there is no need for future entrepreneurs to go to college and even some list well-known entrepreneurs who have succeeded without a college degree (also suggesting that going to college is a waste of time), I believe a college degree will have a profound and positive effect on entrepreneurs. A college degree helps equip students with knowledge and skills that later help them start and succeed in their ventures, develops and expands students’ social capital and lastly, higher institutions strive to deliver entrepreneurship education to help better prepare students.
Throughout the years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the impact of college education on entrepreneurship. According to Gorman et al, many scholars believe that formal education is counter-productive to entrepreneurship and innovation because it promotes conformity and reduces tolerance for ambiguity (Gorman et al, 1997). Research from the early 1970’s suggested that professional training fosters a preference for steady careers (Gorman et al, 1997). Contrary to this belief, a college education helps prepare a person by teaching new skills and training students in critical thinking as well as helping the person build networks at school. Although one might argue that a college education reduces aspiration for self-employment by creating more opportunities in the job market. However, receiving a college degree is an indication of a person’s ambition, socioeconomic background and motivation, which are all related to starting a business.
Secondly, a college education develops and expands student’s social capital. Social capital is about the value of social networks, bonding similar people and bridging between diverse people with norms of reciprocity (Dekker and Uslaner, 2001). Social capital at an individual level is an individual’s ability to gain benefits from their memberships, networks and social structure (Dekker and Uslaner, 2001). For example, when a student is in college, they are typically involved in groups and organizations that allow them to develop leadership and communication skills; therefore, helping students establish and expand their networks (Barringer and Ireland, 2015). Most colleges and universities offer students opportunities such as: developing their vision ideas, exposing students to the business world and most importantly, building up their social ties which are one of the most important factors (Binks et al, 2006). College is the best place to take risk and better understand the risks in order to become more confident entrepreneurs. Some might argue that spending thousands of dollars in a college degree is a waste of money and one can gain all these experiences in “the real world”; however, I believe that campus-wide events which include the participation of business owners, alumnus entrepreneurs, investors and recruiters will help students gain valuable experiences and nurture their ideas and build networks.
Lastly, higher institutions strive to deliver entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurship courses are offered at many colleges and universities. Most of these entrepreneurial courses are distinguished from formal business training in order to promote entrepreneurial thinking (Eckel, 2003). These programs teach students how to start and operate a successful business as a business owner. Few people might argue that there is no need for formal training and entrepreneurism is innate and cannot be taught. In contrast, entrepreneurship programs are usually designed to develop both social and human capital that is needed to become successful entrepreneurs. Also, another argument that tends to rise is that many well-known entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) are both college dropouts and yet they are both one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. On the other hand, there is very little guarantee that one can become a successful entrepreneur without a college degree. Not only does a college degree increase the chances of becoming well-established and successful entrepreneur, it provides a fall back option just in case things do not work out.
In conclusion, I believe a college education is positively, associated with entrepreneurship. A college education equips students with more skills, knowledge and connections which are crucial in starting a business. Moreover, completing college increases the chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Many people frequently believe that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, one does not need to receive formal education especially since there are many well-known entrepreneurs that did not obtain a degree. Although it is true that one does not necessarily need a college degree, but just imagine what more these well-known entrepreneurs could do or could have done with a college education?