Questions to Ask When Choosing an Entrepreneurship Program
- How many alumni created their own jobs?
- Is entrepreneurship a concentration or an official track?
- Who are the faculty?
- If I already have a business idea, how will the faculty support me?
- How is entrepreneurship taught?
Traditionally, attending business school can help an individual to advance in the ranks of an already-established company, but more recently, students are choosing to work for themselves soon after earning their degree and instead choose an entrepreneurship program to help them succeed. Although learning opportunities vary at different schools, programs with a strong focus on entrepreneurship will have common traits. Prospective students trying to determine which of these programs will best prepare them for their careers can ask students, admissions officers or other experts these five targeted questions.
1. How many alumni created their own jobs?
This direct question will help you determine how effective the program is in terms of launching entrepreneurs. If the school cannot give an answer or the number of graduates starting their own businesses is low, look elsewhere for education. At some schools, you may find that many students generate revenue for their businesses before they even receive their degree.
2. Is entrepreneurship a concentration or an official track?
An educational institution that offers entrepreneurship as a designated study area might treat this business more seriously than one that doesn't. In other words, there is some degree of commitment by the school in this field. Other schools may offer entrepreneurship as a concentration and require students to take not only required courses but electives as well. Prospective students may also ask whether the school has a center for entrepreneurship that establishes a point of contact for successful alumni wishing to speak with current students or competitions.
3. Who are the faculty?
When determining whether the program is right for you, take a long, hard look at the faculty. A program that is committed to teaching and developing the fundamentals of entrepreneurship will have both part-time faculty and full-time faculty who are specialists in this field. Some institutions may only have part-time staff, while others employ full-time factory. However, a mixture of teachers with solid hands-on experience and traditional academics creates a more balanced setting.
4. If I already have a business idea, how will the faculty support me?
Some students begin an entrepreneurship program with an idea for a service or product they would like to launch or are currently just beginning, and a strong program will be able to help. For instance, the school should have resources to prototype any idea, and competitions and presentations are helpful to get the student's idea, product or name out into the field. Whether the school offers a concentration in innovation and entrepreneurship or offers the opportunity for off-campus organization for those who already have an idea in place, it is important to research the ways that the school and its faculty will answer questions, provide constructive criticism and support you along the way.
5. How is entrepreneurship taught?
Actually learning about entrepreneurship differs from learning about other subject areas. Students cannot simply learn it through exams and textbooks; rather, gaining knowledge about entrepreneurship requires some exponential learning. Instead of focusing on just the coursework and academics taught, look at the full picture of offerings and the breadth of the entrepreneurship program to determine whether you can tailor it to meet your needs. For example, some schools offer a summer accelerator, an incubator and various venture competitions to help supplement the reading and textbook coursework.
Beginning a business from the ground up is no easy task, yet with the right school behind you, you might be surprised to find success is not out of reach. By asking the right questions, doing thorough research and looking into factors other than academic coursework, you can ensure that the entrepreneurship program you choose is actually the one that's right for you and your future business goals.