Is College Built For Entrepreneurs?
When discussing both college and entrepreneurship, there tends to be a debate.
For me, this question is very personal. It took many months of tough deliberation to determine the true answer behind the ultimate question.
Being a current college student, I believe I can speak to any young entrepreneurs deciding if college is the right call for them. I would like you to know that I have been in your very same shoes not too long ago.
As year one of college came to a close, I was left more confused than ever. I was already running and operating a successful business and felt that class was a complete and utter waste of my time.
I traveled back home for summer vacation and had heavy thoughts on my mind. Did I want to stay in college? Is getting a degree in entrepreneurship really worth it? Class aside, is college helpful?
These questions among many others were clouding my head. It wasn’t monthly, daily or even hourly. At one point, these questions would flood my mind every 5 minutes.
I tried to talk to everyone. My family, my friends and my girlfriend.
I was convinced that college meant nothing to an entrepreneur that has or even does not have an existing business. Every time someone tried to convince me of “…but college teaches you this” or “…college provides you this” I would argue back with counterpoints.
I didn’t see it. I did not see what college could provide me over actual experience of learning entrepreneurship through running a business and self-education.
In fact, during summer, I got so convinced that I was done with college that I scheduled a meeting to sit down and talk to my parents. I expressed that I did not think going back to college was right for me. I told them that I would dropout, but move back to that area in an apartment to be by my girlfriend while she was completing school and that I would run my business.
My family is very entrepreneurial and understood where I was coming from after having to really deliver my argument against school. To clarify, I was never about school. I have always had a strong-dislike for school. So, they kind of felt this one coming.
Although my family means everything to me, I needed to gather opinions from non-entrepreneurs as well. I had to see how the other side viewed college and their arguments for it.
I sat down and even had long conversations with my girlfriend’s family. They were totally for college and with good reason.
There was now an all out war playing in my mind. Do I go back? Do I dropout? Would I be able to financially dropout and make it on my own? Is there opportunities I did not take advantage of while at school?
These were all valid questions that started getting more and more prominent as the summer went on.
Then, one night I come back home fairly late and my father was watching a show on Amazon Video. I pop a squat on the couch and ask him about his day.
I should preface the next part of this story by saying my father is a successful entrepreneur and both him and my mother have been massive mentors to me in my entrepreneurial journey.
Knowing this has been weighing on me, he says “you know, I think you should finish out college. I’ve been thinking about it and although I do not think you entirely need your degree, I think you will be happy you finished it out.”
This statement changed my entire perspective in 10 seconds.
I went from having my mind made up of dropping out of college to, let me finish what I started. I valued advice from my parents tremendously and thought about his statement for the entire night.
After praying about the decision for months and asking for a sign, I knew this had to be it.
However, do I still think college is built for entrepreneurs?
Today, I sit here in my dorm room writing you this post.
The magic question is, do I think college is built for entrepreneurs?
The short answer to this question in my mind is, no. Although, at the same time my answer is yes.
Let me explain.
I am currently in my university’s entrepreneurship program and I have not taken classes that I personally feel sets an entrepreneur that already has a business up for success.
In my heart of hearts, I believe entrepreneurship is a journey that is learned through experience and self-education. I believe it is also learned through making mistakes and determining what works and what does not.
As someone who is running a successful business from college, I do not think the classes are built to teach you how to create and scale a successful business.
You are likely now asking yourself, “Well, what the hell is he doing at college then?”
Although I do not believe classes are built for entrepreneurs, I have learned in year two that college experiences can be used to improve the skills of entrepreneurs.
I believe there are classes that are fantastic to learn and lead to acquiring basic business skills. I think these skills are very important and important enough to come learn them while experiencing college, where I believe the bulk of skills can be acquired.
What do I mean by this?
I believe college is a game of, you get what you put in.
Year one of college, I kept my circle small and held mainly to myself and my business. I went into year two with that exact same mindset.
However, after encouragement from my parents, family, friends and my girlfriend, I decided that to see any change and try to see value, I needed to broaden my horizons.
I decided to become a “yes man” of sorts. If you have not seen Jim Carrey’s Yes Man, I would recommend it.
If someone asked me to do something, I said yes. In fact, I went as far as joining a fraternity. I told everyone that this is something I would never do. I should also clarify that fraternities at my college are not your typical fraternity, otherwise I wouldn’t be in one. They are social fraternities, but with a strong emphasis on philanthropy and giving back to the community.
Due to becoming a “yes man,” I was left having to learn many new skills that were more foreign to me from year one.
I had to learn time management. Balancing class, a business, a girlfriend, a fitness routine and a fraternity was a task. However, due to this, I have been able to transfer my time management skills into my business.
Additionally, I had become more social. I began developing my existing social skills and even learned how to manage multiple friends at one time. You can take these skills and utilize them in your business as new sales and management skills.
See, these are real experiences. These are not classes. This is not homework.
So, when I tell you I think most college classes are not built for entrepreneurship, I mean it. But, I would argue that the college experience is a foundational base to learn new skills to grow in your entrepreneurial journey.
To this day, I still struggle on days finding value in why I’m in school. Then, I remember that I started this for a reason and if for nothing more, this an experience that teaches me hard work and following through on what I started.
So, now it’s your turn.
My final statement to you would be to talk to family, talk to business owners, talk to friends. However, at the end of the day, you need to determine what route is best for you.
Let my story be an example of someone who started college, seriously contemplated dropping out and then went back and made the best of my situation to begin sharpening skills I may not have sharpened otherwise.
I would tell you to go for it.
I am not going to sit here and give you the “…you’re only a kid for so long” or “…these are your last year’s of freedom” talk. Although I think those statements hold some value, I think they are bullshit. If you are reading this article, you are not looking for those statements. You are looking for an honest answer.
My honest answer to you would be to go give it a shot. Entrepreneurship is a game of risk-taking. So, at the very least take a risk on college. Get involved in anything and everything, because that is how you will fully maximize your experience and skills you acquire.
If you are still struggling with your decision, reach out to me. I promise I can help. Not too long ago, I was making this same decision.
If you have thoughts or experience about this topic, share in the comments section below to help other young budding entrepreneurs with this major life decision.
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