How important is college education to entrepreneurial success? How much does educational background and knowledge contribute to success as a business owner? Do you have to enroll in an Ivy League school to be successful in business?
Colleges and universities offer solid education, social network and access to resources to complement your studies. They take pride in helping ensure their graduates land top jobs, and much of the focus seems to be grooming young people for the corporate world and climbing the proverbial corporate ladder.
BusinessWeek had an article (“Who Needs the Ivies?”) that looked at the correlation of education and entrepreneurial success. One of the studies the article mentioned was that of Jim Duggan, a senior technology industry analyst. The article states that Duggan’s findings was
“… Attendance at top-tier schools might even be inversely correlated with
entrepreneurial success. These schools often focus on producing the next generation of research scientists and academics—not entrepreneurs. He believes that the elitism and confidence these schools nurture may work well in large corporations, but not in tech startups.”
Personally, I think deciding to be an entrepreneur instead of a corporate worker is an individual’s choice, though enhanced by the environment including schools. A risk averse person will still find solace in the steady paycheck of a job, even after attending one or two entrepreneurial classes.
Family and how entrepreneurship is viewed by the parents is a better gauge of whether a person will want to start and grow their own ventures rather than be employed by someone else. Children who see their parents enjoying the challenge, excitement and disappointments of starting a business are more likely to become entrepreneurs themselves.
But my hats off to the rare breed of entrepreneurs, who made it really big without college education. For these individuals, college education is not a prerequisite for attaining success. Here are some people from Forbes’ list of the richest in the world who never completed their college education:
• Sheldon Anderson dropped out of City College in New York City to become court reporter.
• Lawrence Ellison is a drop out at the University of Illinois
• Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard
• Kirk Kerkorian is an 8th grade dropout
• Michael Dell dropped out from University of Texas
• Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College
• Roman Abramovich is also a college drop out
• Amancio Ortega is also a self made man and dropped out of high school
• Li Ka-shing is also a high school drop out
Their stories can inspire you and give you confidence that you don’t really need a degree to succeed in life — as long as you are willing to work hard to make your business a success