5 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Entrepreneurship Program
As a child, you probably dreamed of someday being a pilot or fireman…one of those ‘cool’ jobs where you traveled the world or saved lives. Chances are, you didn’t think, ‘I’m going to risk my life savings on an idea that’ll require me to work 110 hours a week with a 90 percent chance of failure (and only a three month window to capitalize).
Alas, a good education is one way to increase your odds for success. Question is, which business schools actually prepare you to be an entrepreneur instead of paying lip service to the concept?
Entrepreneurship is the new “big thing” on campus. In fact, many students aren’t even waiting until graduation to launch their ventures. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, nearly half of b-school entrepreneurs from the classes of 2010-2013 started their companies in school.
So which schools provide the best environments for doing so? This week, U.S. News and World Report provides a five point criteria for evaluating a program’s entrepreneurial bent:
1. Is entrepreneurship an official track or concentration? Gauge a school’s level of commitment. How many entrepreneurship courses are required for specialization? What types of electives are offered? Just as important, look for whether a school maintains a center for entrepreneurship. Centers are good at a few things,” observes Jeffrey Robinson, the academic director for the Center of Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers. “One of them is coordinating activities from inside and outside of the school.”
2. How is entrepreneurship taught? “You can’t learn it through textbooks and exams,” says Helena Yli-Renko, an associate professor and the director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “It really requires some experiential learning.” She encourages students to look at the breadth and depth of offerings, ranging from incubators to competitions, to ensure students gain real hands-on experience.
3. Who are the faculty? Rutgers’ Robinson believes schools should maintain a mix of full-time academics with part-time faculty with deep experience in specific areas. By doing this, schools maintain a balance between teaching quality, theoretical mastery, and real world practical insights.
4. If you’re coming in with a business idea, what kind of support can the faculty provide? If students want to start a company during the program, they’ll need resources and mentors. As a result, they should evaluate whether the school has programs – or interdepartmental connections – that allow students to test their ideas. For example, Clemson University’s College of Business and Behavioral Science an partner with the engineering school’s Clemson Apparel Research organization. “We have all the resources to prototype just about any idea,” brags Matthew Klein, who oversees business development at the College.
5. How many alumni actually created their own jobs? Entrepreneurship is a deeply embedded in many school cultures. To find out how deep, students should tap into the alumni network, to discern just how many graduates have been able to successfully launch companies.
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Source: U.S. News and World Report