Entrepreneurs and College: A Good Mix?

Do entrepreneurs need a college degree?

This question has been asked for a long time. Truthfully, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. I wrote this blog post because of a few questions I have: why do so many people go to college? Do the same types of people go to college now as did just a few decades ago? Are all students that go to college happy about being there? And if not, what are their options?

James Altucher has an interesting take on the alternatives to college.  Altucher is a successful entrepreneur who attended college and now shares his experiences in controversial writings on why kids shouldn’t go to college. His number one alternative - starting a business! According to Altucher, everyone can be an entrepreneur, but not everyone can be a successful entrepreneur.

Most people won’t rule out higher education completely, but they are starting to see that college is no longer the surefire path to success that it once was. Many influential entrepreneurs see little importance in receiving a college degree.

Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, is a committed supporter of young entrepreneurs. The 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship Program gives chosen applicants a $100,000 grant and two years to work on their ideas. The learning is hands-on and fellows must “learn by doing.” Well-respected mentors from Silicon Valley and incubators around the nation provide guidance and support.

“Some of the world’s most transformational technologies were created by people who stopped out of school because they had ideas that couldn’t wait until graduation.” –Peter Thiel

Sam Krichevsky, LaunchHouse managing partner and COO, shared his thoughts on the topic:

“You can gain more knowledge working with mentors and professionals in the field on a daily basis than sitting in a classroom reading out of a textbook. That’s how you learn: hands on.”

Krichevksy continues, “Being a tech entrepreneur means identifying need markets and creating disruptive technologies (anything that alters the space from what there is now). Pinterest is a great example.”

“Entrepreneurs like to help each other through community and networking. There is a sense of camaraderie in this industry. The LaunchHouse Accelerator program will be comprised of teams of 2-3 co-founders because LH believes in the power of the group. College focuses on individual achievement. Entrepreneurship is less quantifiable and often involves more than one founder.”

Despite the appeal for entrepreneurs to pass up college, you may be surprised to find out that:

-45% of entrepreneurs have a Master’s degree

-46% of entrepreneurs have an Undergraduate degree

-7% of entrepreneurs have less than an Undergraduate degree

-2% of entrepreneurs have a Ph.D.

College is the right choice for many people, especially those entering technical fields such as medicine, law, engineering, etc. Entrepreneurship is a field of experience-based learning. Schools know that and are starting to develop entrepreneurial programs. While basic business knowledge is important, the question is can you teach entrepreneurship? Colleges seem to think so. Check out the top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurial colleges.

What do you think? Should entrepreneurs go to college? Why or why not?

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur wondering what your next step is, consider applying for the LH Accelerator program. Teams of 2-3 co-founders can apply and applications are open until July 1.

The LH Accelerator will match seasoned, industry-specific mentors with the 10 teams, as well as invest $25,000 per team. These mentors will guide the teams as they experience the four-phase Accelerator program. The completion of each phase is a key milestone that helps the teams to build significant elements of their business model and investor dashboard.

The LH Accelerator drives business success through hands-on, pertinent experiences, which takes teams from idea to validation over the course of 12 weeks. The process is specifically designed to help entrepreneurs build strong businesses and to improve the likelihood of securing follow on funding.