Colleges are starting to become startup incubators by offering a variety of classes and programs in order to help students pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. This is good news for students because employers feel that they should gain entrepreneurship experience before graduating. Many professors are current or former entrepreneurs who act as mentors to students and teach them critical marketing, sales, and operation skills. The Kaufman Foundation estimates that more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the US, two thirds of the total, offer a course in entrepreneurship. There are now approximately 5,000 courses on entrepreneurship, up from 250 back in 1985. There are a few famous college dropouts, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, that didn’t need a business curriculum to start their companies, and a few lucky students who were selected as part of Peter Thiel’s “Thiel Fellowship” program, but they are outliers. Zuckerberg was in the right place at the right time and most students don’t get into Thiel’s program. Many students could use the education, network and support of an entrepreneurial institution.
Why are colleges creating these classes, programs and centers? Many students are passionate about entrepreneurship over full-time employment, the barriers to entry are lower to starting a business now because of the internet, and young people believe that entrepreneurs create jobs which are good for the economy. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) presented by Babson College (ranked #1 for entrepreneurship education) shows that there are 165 million early-stage young entrepreneurs age 18 to 25. More and more students are starting their businesses in college and graduating into full-time entrepreneurs.
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