Management October 6, 2014 Last updated September 18th, 2018 2,988 Reads share

What Entrepreneurs Had to Say: How Can Colleges Improve Entrepreneurship Education (Forbes Recap)

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In a September 2014 article I wrote for Forbes titled

#1. Focus More on Case Studies

“Using case studies allows the creation of a simulated environment as a problem based learning approach to classroom content. Students are offered a tremendous opportunity to learn because they get to practice developing strategies and making decisions as if they were the actual CEO or senior leader. The case study scenario allows students to make decisions and solve problems in a way that connects course theories, models, and ideas to real world problems that they could actually face in an actual work environment. The case becomes the incubator that creates a learning cycle where students can collaborate and learn from others through an exploration of each other’s problem solving thinking, innovative ideas, and actual experiences as it relates to decision making and strategy development.”Dr. Darrell Norman Burrell, Associate Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

#2. Link Curricula to Real-World Business Challenges

“Graduating with a degree in entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurship is not as important as educators actually graduating entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is best learned on the ground floor. Connecting mistakes, successes, and strategies with real world business challenges makes entrepreneurship as real as possible for students, which is one, if not the best, way to transform someone from just a student into someone who is an entrepreneur.”  – Arel Moodie, Founder and President of The College Success Program @ArelMoodie

#3. Make Students Participate in Social Entrepreneurship Contests

“Universities have become aware of the urgent need for students to practice what they’ve learned by performing in meaningful engagements, such as accelerators, hackathons and business model competitions. Pursuing their passions by actively creating entities, students are made aware of the significance of customer discovery, tactical decision making and need for iteration. Experiential education puts students in the game, rather than having them write about the game.” – John Liddy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Syracuse University @JohnLiddy

#4. Partner with Businesses

“As the entrepreneurship ecosystem very quickly evolves, the unique contribution that colleges and universities can make to it is evolving. When I first co-founded Empact, colleges & universities were often the only or the main game in town. This meant creating many programs from scratch. Just 8 years later, we have had the rapid proliferation of entrepreneurship accelerators, co-working spaces, and other support services. I believe that colleges & universities can now contribute the most by serving as the glue that connects students to the rest of the ecosystem.” – Michael Simmons, Co-Founder & Partner of Empact @michaeldsimmons

#5. Have Business Executives Deliver Some Lectures

“Academics needs to find ways to incorporate the experiences of professionals – guest lectures and entrepreneurs-in-residence from the business world – as part of the teaching/learning experience they offer. Many of our students who plan to use their degrees as professional entrees want to see the “street credentials” of who is teaching them. It is who they want to take advice from as the find their way in the business world.  Professionals take them beyond what appears to be conjecture. The ability of professionals to offer a “value-added element” to classroom texts and lessons is invaluable.” – Dr. Craig Watters, Norman C. Stevenson Chair and Executive Director of Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, Oklahoma State University

#6. Provide Consulting Services to Small Businesses and Nonprofits

“There is a huge opportunity for business students to learn from small businesses and nonprofit agencies during students’ formal education especially if they plan to providing consultations to small businesses as a career and / or they plan to start their own businesses.  Keep in mind, many large organizations such as Home Depot, Walmart, U-Haul, etc. were initiated by entrepreneurs as small businesses. Not understanding the differences between different growth stages of organizations lead business students to make wrong assumptions.” – Dr. Amine Ayad, Senior Director of Strategy – US Innovations at Walmart Corp @Dr_Ayad

#7. Help Students Launch Their Own Businesses

“Education is greater, but helping students to get their business off the ground is more meaningful. They need advice, experience, resources, seed money and assistance to grow their network. At Syracuse University, our students work with businesses associated with our entrepreneurial outreach centers, which exposes them to the real life challenges faced by growing businesses. Our student incubator, which housed 50 student owned businesses, offers an opportunity for them to meet with professors of practice, bankers, accountants, and other small business professionals, and allows our students to explore their entrepreneurial desires while in college around other college students who are entrepreneurially inclined. Such experiences are crucial in the development of these students as entrepreneurs on the journey to starting their own business.” – El-Java Abdul-Qadir, Director of the South Side Innovation Center and Faculty at Whitman School of Management/ SU

#8. Emphasize Technology Topics in Curricula

“Create technology entrepreneurship opportunities in the forms of software service support and infrastructure support to global organizations.  This will allow students to gain expertise in low level design, software project management, and software consulting services in order to successfully deploy their own spin off technology focused company. The entrepreneurship ecosystem is changing so rapidly where start-ups are being developed everyday based on the discovery of new technology and  mobile apps. You want curricula that prepares them for this.” – Dr. Maurice Dawson, Fulbright Scholar and Assistant Professor, University of Missouri-St. Louis @drmauricedawson

#9. Foster Global Exchange Programs with Other Institutions

“The ability to provide students opportunities to gain international exchange and experiences enables them to accurately evaluate a dynamic decision environment, and subsequently act in the face of uncertainty. The nature of global exchange programs dictates that student participants gain skills at operating across cultures and international boundaries. The cross-cultural experiences characteristic of these students represent a competitive advantage for their entrepreneurial endeavor, given the increasing globalization of the business environment.” – Mirza Tihic, Faculty at Whitman School of Management/ SU and Director of Program Support Services at the Institute for Veterans @mtihic

#10. Encourage Student-in-Residence Programs

“It is very important that business schools encourage Student-in-Residence Programs, as they have the resources to provide on campus support, faculty expertise, and in some cases funding for student led start-up companies. Real time business experiences coupled with the support of seasoned business school faculty allows for an immediate and continuous exchange of ideas that facilitates a real world entrepreneurial education for students.” – Dr. Mario Barrett, Management Faculty at the Jack Welch Management Institute


All of these individuals were extremely passionate and knowledgeable on entrepreneurial trends taking shape. To encourage entrepreneurship in students, all of these entrepreneurs suggest that universities must offer more practical coursework, blending the theory in the traditional economic literature with the tangible needs of everyday business management. The education should be experiential, hands-on and be action driven to give students a real-world experience.

The best ways to spur hands-on business teaching include global exchange programs, case studies, student-run consulting services, and business-university partnerships. Allow entrepreneurship students with the opportunity to sink or swim in the Shark Tank.

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Emad Rahim

Emad Rahim

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