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via bizjournals: About this time of year, many students are questioning the value of staying in school. There’s an increasing chorus of proponents urging them to drop out.

They say, “You don’t need a formal education anymore, especially if you are planning on being an entrepreneur.” They say, “Just get started, the real-world experience will be more effective than the abstract and theoretical education you get in college.”

They are quick to support this advice with an impressive list of some hugely successful people who dropped out of college and made gazillions.

Our advice: Don’t do it.

Here’s why, if you are truly planning on becoming an entrepreneur, you should stay in school:

1. Learn how to learn
College teaches you much more than the subjects offered. Due to the course load, the number of classes you must take per day, and the limited amount of time you have to study, you simply won’t pass unless you develop a systematic approach to learning.

You must make some assumptions about the material on a very general level, fill in the blanks and make adjustments to your assumption as you go. All the while you must outline the materials in a way that you can recall and use them — even if it’s only for an exam.

You must learn how to learn. And that skill is essential for successful entrepreneurship in the real world.

2) Learn how to juggle
College requires that you master another essential skill of entrepreneurship —juggling. You must juggle your time between classes, work, and social activities. You must remain healthy and get enough sleep.

Most have to juggle their finances to be able to afford college.

This means you must learn how to budget your time and your money. You must prioritize, sometimes going without and deferring gratification, all critical skills in the real world of entrepreneurship.

3) Learn how to stick to it
Seeing things through is crucial in the world of entrepreneurship. Completing college demonstrates that you can finish what you start.

Commitment and tenacity require practice and reap rewards. In the business world, if you pivot too often you will get the reputation of a quitter, someone not to be taken seriously when they say they are going to do something. As an entrepreneur, your customers buy from you because they believe you will do what you say. Your reputation is on the line.

If you are still in doubt, then here’s two things you can do:

  • Take some humanities courses — They are also known as the liberal arts or liberal studies. Successful entrepreneurs understand and properly use skills they have learned about communication, critical thinking, philosophy, psychology, history and sociology. Those studies will give you an appreciation for others that will come in handy when selling your ideas to others and communicating leadership skills.
  • Work part-time for an entrepreneur — Yes, get a job working for someone who is already doing what you want to do. It will give you insight and respect for what is involved. Watching a real entrepreneur face challenges, decide on priorities, and make tough decisions will prepare you for the road ahead.

You’ll notice we did not defend the content of formal education, but did defend the rigor and challenges necessary to see it through. The college experience itself forces discipline, focus and frugality at a time in your life when you need to develop these attributes. They will play a significant part in your future as an entrepreneur. So, stay in school and learn the skills successful entrepreneurs have before you hit the bricks.


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