How to Improve Entrepreneurship Education
“It’s not something you can teach. It’s just something you have to do.”
That maxim has sometimes been applied to teaching entrepreneurship. I mean, how do you teach resolve, ingenuity, risk-taking, relationship-building, and vision? Maybe that’s why the siren song of freedom, control, and equity lures away so many would-be MBAs.
Over the past decade, entrepreneurship education has become a cornerstone in many MBA programs. Unlike traditional finance and management curriculum, business schools are still wrestling with how to structure their programs. Who should teach it? How do you replicate the risks and immediacy of the entrepreneurial experience? And how can you help students hit the ground running with their ventures once they graduate?
In a recent Forbes column, Dr. Emad Rahim shared some insights on teaching entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur-in-residence at Oklahoma State University and a visiting scholar at Rutgers University, Rahim surveyed “social entrepreneurs, endowed professors, researchers, business owners, startup founders, and researchers” for their best practices. While some strategies, such as contests and guest speakers, aren’t particularly inventive, others (including beefing up case studies and student in-residence programs) challenge conventional wisdom to an extent. Here is a slice of the ideas shared by Rahim:
- “Foster Global Exchange Programs with Other Institutions: Global exchange programs are nothing new, but the concept has not expanded as it should to business programs. For example, the Erasmusprogram in Europe allows students of Eurozone countries to start a degree program in one country and finish it in another. Similar programs, such as the one spearheaded by the New York Institute of Technology also exist in the United States and elsewhere. The concept here is to broaden the exchange program to other institutions, inviting students with varied cultural and professional backgrounds.”
- “Emphasize Technology Topics in Curricula: Technology has asserted its supremacy on today’s global economy. Higher-learning institutions can jumpstart their students’ careers by incorporating more technology topics in curricula. The idea is not to clog academic programs with coding, programming and computer-hardware courses, but to teach strategic ways companies and entrepreneurs are using technology to innovate, communicate, advertise, and make money.”
- “Provide Consulting Services to Small Businesses and Nonprofits: Universities can make money—and make business courses engaging—by providing consulting services to small businesses and nonprofit agencies. Conceptually, a professor would lead the consulting team of students, formulating operational priorities and guiding students throughout the consulting engagement. This scenario is a win-win for all parties involved. Students learn practical stuff and how to cope with business tedium and nonprofit leaders; universities and faculty members make extra cash; and small businesses and nonprofits pay affordable rates for high-quality consulting services.”
- “Focus More on Case Studies: Case studies are an effective method to spur students’ curiosity, putting them face-to-face with real-life business situations. By studying past or present corporate success stories and operational hiccups, students can dig deeper into processes and procedures that executives follow to make decisions. And this is what a business degree should teach—the thinking pattern a manager formulates to analyze a situation, evaluate alternatives, choose a solution, and track progress over time.”
- “Encourage Student-in-Residence Programs: Student-in-residence programs are comparable to internships, except that students get hands-on experience, work a specific number of hours at the host company—say, 20 hours a week—and complete coursework that ultimately is graded and counts towards the course’s final GPA. Similar to entrepreneur-in-residence programs, student-in-residence programs allow students and experienced professionals to learn from each other while discussing and solving real-world business challenges.”
For additional insights, click on the Forbes link below.
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