College Entrepreneurs: How to Make the Most of Your Education When Starting a Business

Here’s how to get the best of both worlds by leveraging resources at a college or university and starting a business.

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Are you in college and contemplating whether to start a business?

Many young entrepreneurs ask themselves this question: Should I finish school or start my business?

Deciding to start a business while in school can pose quite a dilemma, but there’s good news: It doesn’t have to be one or the other. In fact, staying in school can actually give you the tools you need to get your startup off the ground.

Here’s how to get the best of both worlds by leveraging resources at a college or university and starting a business.

1. Be a Double-Dipper

Get credit for taking classes that are related to your startup.  Since you’ll be working toward your degree, as well as the success of your future business – maximize your opportunity. Analyze your elective options to enhance both your career and degree potential.

For example, throughout my business program, I took three classes that were entirely centered around my company:

a. An independent study focused entirely on my company,

b. A workshop for startups that was all about executing a business, and

c. An engineering entrepreneurship, with the credits based on how much progress was made.

Also, don’t hesitate to use your college startup idea as inspiration for projects and papers. That way, you’ll keep fleshing out the details of your business, and receive credit for your degree. I used my startup, Magoosh as the basis for quite a few assignments. I also even received “free labor” from classmates when my assignments became group projects!

2. Get Some Face Time

Higher education is about more than just books; you have access to a lot of people. Do your homework, yes, but also get as much as you can out of interactions with:

Your classmates. Take advantage of having so many sounding boards while you can! Finding people to help launch a startup gets much harder after you graduate. I used my classmates to help us vet our idea, test product usability, and build initial momentum for my online test prep company.

Your professors. Professors are an amazing – and a highly underrated – resource for students. Our professors helped with our business model, marketing, pricing, and more. We used office hours to discuss our new startup; we even obtained introductions to some of our investors through professors.

Alums. Nothing softens the heart of an alumnus quite like an “.edu” email address. In fact, our first investor was a Haas School of Business alum!

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