The Corner

Education

Does College Help Entrepreneurs?

Students walk at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., September 20, 2018. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Quite a few colleges now have entrepreneurship programs, but do they do much to help spur entrepreneurship?

That’s the question explored by Michael McGrady in today’s Martin Center article. McGrady is a young entrepreneur who says that he is still working on his college degree, not letting that get in the way of his entrepreneurial activities.

Can entrepreneurship programs help? Certainly, McGrady answers. A person who intends to start a business could learn some crucial information in a college program — information that might improve his business skills and help him avoid mistakes.

But it absolutely is not essential to go to college if you want to become an entrepreneur. There are other ways of learning what you need to know besides taking classes from academic types who might have scant experience themselves. And college soaks up lots of time and money that could be directed into business success.

I think McGrady’s conclusion is right:

As documented here, there is no “specific” way to become an entrepreneur. Despite the credibility gained by earning a degree, college isn’t always the path to becoming a successful, trail-blazing “agent of change.” However, critics of higher education shouldn’t dismiss what a university can offer in terms of education, innovative environments, and creative people.

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George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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