UNIVERSITY 101: RELEVANT?

As an entrepreneur, you may think that your traits and your tools will serve as your “get out of college or university jail” card. After all, so many entrepreneurs will tell you they never went or simply dropped out.

With so many entrepreneurs proudly proclaiming they became millionaires and billionaires without ever attending college or finishing a degree, it is easy to see why today's entrepreneurs may rebel against the notion that institutions of higher learning have any relevance to what they are trying to achieve. They believe they can get an education that will help them by living and working in the real world. Again, this is normal for the traditional entrepreneurial character, which expects instant results culled by taking shortcuts and having all the information and contacts they think they need at their fingertips. Despite all that, today's entrepreneur might want to reconsider skipping past university lessons.

Higher learning has caught on to the changes in the global business environment and many universities are altering their focus to offer courses that resonate with entrepreneurs, as well as to cover some very relevant aspects of leading a business. Entrepreneurs can glean skills that they might otherwise lack from these courses. Sure, there was a time when universities offered few or no classes on entrepreneurship. Guidance counselors did not suggest going out and starting your own business. Many who might have liked to have their own business, instead conformed to a traditional career path.

But today's students aren't forced to make that kind of sacrifice. Universities have made the leap into the current decade in terms of their thinking and approach to learning. Owning your own business is now talked about more readily, stoking the flames of entrepreneurship for the younger crowd. Colleges and universities are finally embracing entrepreneurship, creating undergraduate and graduate courses in the field. MIT and the University of California, Berkeley, are just a couple of the top universities now offering classes and graduate courses in entrepreneurship. Given the growing number of student loans but the lack of existing jobs, universities might have to do even more to attract young people as many decide to forgo higher education.

Instead, they will use the entrepreneurial force coursing through their veins simply to develop their own jobs by starting businesses, rather than hoping that a job awaits them upon graduation. As such, future generations of entrepreneurs are preparing earlier and more thoroughly for the rigors of today's business environment. With this comes a throwback to the idea that the education system can prepare entrepreneurs to be more effective in their role, whether it is through a brick-and-mortar university or through e-learning techniques now being developed to appeal to their character.

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