Nearly half of American youth between ages 8 and 24 are enthusiastic about starting a business, or have already have started one, according to a Harris poll done for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2010.
What if big schools developed endowments to recruit entrepreneurship students? In the 2006/2007 school year alone, The University of Tennessee spent $2 million to recruit athletes. Certainly, college athletes can generate a lot of excitement – and a lot of money – for their schools. But entrepreneurs can generate so much more, in terms of jobs and wealth for the U.S. economy. New businesses are job creators. The Kauffman Foundation determined that over the last 30 years, all net new job growth came from companies less than five years old. More entrepreneurs also mean more innovative products and processes for U.S. companies, which make them more globally competitive.
Maybe students are tired of hearing about their gloomy job prospects and want to create their own jobs. Maybe they’re looking for a fast track to technology commercialization (think: Steve Jobs and his iPod). Whatever the reasons, an entrepreneurial education will serve students well in life, no matter what career paths they choose.
For starters, entrepreneurial education prepares students for unstable and fast-changing job markets. “As the economy changes, as career outlooks change, as various industries change, entrepreneurial education can provide a backstop for people who may at some point have to fend for themselves or create some of their own opportunities,” said Bob Cohen, CEO of Braintree Business Development Center in Mansfield, Ohio.
“The more you can expose students to that idea of entrepreneurship, the less foreign or risky the idea becomes, and the more it is viewed as another viable path.”
So if entrepreneurial education is important to America’s economy and global competitiveness, and good for its students, why don’t we recruit entrepreneurs for our colleges the way we do athletes?
More than 35,000 college coaches in the United States recruit talent from 24,000 secondary schools nationwide. And nearly $1 billion in financial aid is awarded each year to more than 126,000 student-athletes at Division I and II institutions. What if the more than 6,000 post-secondary institutions in America recruited future entrepreneurs?
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