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College Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship»» has been steadily growing as the fastest and hottest college course on college campuses and at home attending online colleges. The line of work has grown explosively in the past five years, with successful business owners and college alumni driving thousands of dollars into the creation of new businesses that are related to their college studies. Several colleges now offer curriculum in entrepreneurship.

About 400,000 undergraduate and graduate students took at least one entrepreneurship course in the past academic year, estimates Paul Magelli, senior scholar in residence at the Kauffman Foundation, compared with possibly 24,000 10 years ago. At a University Management college only one in four of the juniors who apply for a major in entrepreneurship will get into the program. At the Wharton School, the most popular double major among MBAs for three of the last four years has been finance and entrepreneurship.

However, even the best program of study can't sprinkle entrepreneurial pixie dust on students. The goals of these programs are considerably more commonplace. They offer instruction in the basic building blocks of business to equip students with some insight into the world of new ventures.

The insight comes from a combination of academics and experienced entrepreneurs. College Entrepreneurship is a relatively new subject being taught, few of the academics teaching in these programs have degrees in entrepreneurship. Instead, they hold PhDs in subjects such as Management. Most schools also rely mostly on lecturers by instructors who are entrepreneurs themselves or former entrepreneurs who teach from their own experience.

Most colleges agree a mix of practicing entrepreneurship experience and teaching / theory is best. "If you have mainly entrepreneurs [teaching], you have the chance that too many war stories are being told," cautions Steven S. Rogers, director of the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice at Northwestern University's Kellogg School and a professor in entrepreneurial finance. "And with too many academics, you have the possibility that no one knows the realities of entrepreneurship."

College students who focus on entrepreneurship as part of an undergraduate or MBA degree typically take a handful of classes that may include how to write a business plan, the ins and outs of financing a startup, how to manage a fast-growing enterprise, and negotiating an acquisition.

Which type of program might be right for you depends not just on your own purposes as an entrepreneur but on where you are in your college schooling, the teaching style you believe you'll respond to best, and how much time you're willing to devote to a college and participating in class.

Last year, Jennifer Iannolo thought she'd go back to school for an MBA in entrepreneurship and use that time to develop her next company. But she was rejected by Oxford University which turned out to be a great bit of luck. She now has her rejection letter framed in her office. The day after it arrived, she dove into work for the Gilded Fork, her new online media startup. She's hardly pining for more time on campus. Mostly, she says, she's using "what I learned by being in the trenches."

The students who are eager to get their hands dirty and start a business say they have learned valuable lessons. One of the most important: the ability to evaluate a situation in an analytic, dispassionate way. Another plus of being in a entrepreneurship program is the chance to surround yourself with others who are just as focused The degrees are attractive to big employers looking for executives to drive internal innovation.

Entrepreneurship is as viable a pathway to a career direction as career-tech training or college degree programs and is one of the only way to truly control your destiny.


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