“If I want to start my own business, why do I even need a degree?”
This was a question posed to me recently and I was glad to see the student in question was really thinking about why he was going to attend college and what he may or may not get out of the experience. I thought it was a great question and while a degree itself may not end up amounting to much in the long run, the overall college experience absolutely can to many things:
1.) Develop Critical Thinking Skills: Any successful business owner will tell you that his or her day is spent solving problems. At any number of institutions, especially liberal arts colleges, one of the expected outcomes of their curriculum is to help you think critically. In other words, you should learn how to think outside the box, become a better problem solver, and be able to successfully navigate your way through issues involving moral dilemmas, diversity and conflicts of interest.
2.) Networking: While you are enrolled in school, one of the best things you can do for yourself is cultivate relationships with other students, faculty and staff. By expanding your network you will have the opportunity to share your ideas, gather support and fine tune what you want to do with your business. You may even identify future business partners or investors. Some schools like Yale even house entrepreneurial programs where students can develop their ideas into tangible businesses.
3.) Have a Back-Up Plan: More business fail than succeed and while you could turn out to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, the chances of this actually happening are not favorable. By going to college you can immerse yourself in a degree program that, should you need it, can help you put together a back-up plan in the event that your business venture doesn’t pan out.
Ultimately, college can offer so many benefits outside of just earning a degree. In fact, many of the greatest benefits may take place outside of the classroom. The people you will meet, the experiences you will have, the conversations you will take part in – all of these things and more will help you grow into the person you are in the process of becoming.
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Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.