This piece was originally published on Entrepreneur.
For many reasons, college is a unique opportunity for young adults. It not only provides a rare ecosystem where students can learn new skills but also allows for experiences they might not have had access to otherwise.
Yet, as an entrepreneur, college is sometimes undervalued. Many people believe the standard courses and majors included in a college curriculum have little or no relevance for entrepreneurs and that aspiring founders are better off jumping into the real world and starting businesses. For this reason, hundreds of entrepreneurs drop out of college each year.
However, if done correctly, the college experience can be a very beneficial time for entrepreneurs, and can provide opportunities to learn and grow.
Here are three ways that college can help you develop as an entrepreneur.
1. Interpersonal skills
College is a fantastic opportunity to develop your personality, along with your social, networking and relationship-building skills.
You are placed in a community with thousands of other young, ambitious students who want to learn and grow. There are hundreds of opportunities to join clubs, organizations and find ways to form new connections and friends.
By being surrounded by so many different people in so many different settings, college is a great platform for those who wish to network and meet new people — a valuable skill for entrepreneurs. The direct value is it you can broaden your network and expand your knowledge, while the indirect benefit is you will learn how to form connections and relationships with people.
Plus, learning how to become charismatic and social is very important for entrepreneurs, as they are often forced to recruit new employees, gain clients and convince investors. All three of these basic functions are impossible without effective interpersonal skills.
As touched on above, one of the most valuable assets for an entrepreneur is his network.
As an entrepreneur your job is versatile and requires many skills, people, and procedures. When you are fundraising, you need financial investors; when you are hiring, you need talent; and when you are growing your business, you need new leads and clients. For all of these functions, an entrepreneur’s network is extremely helpful.
When an entrepreneur takes full advantage of his college experience, he can meet other entrepreneurs and people who can be potential employees, partners and investors. In addition, he can meet cohorts who can provide introduction to key employees and partners.
While general humanities doesn’t seem to contain much practical value for entrepreneurs, there are many other ways college can provide excellent education for entrepreneurs. For instance, the mentorship from business professors, teachers and club leaders can be helpful resources for entrepreneurs and tools to learn and grow.
Beyond mentorship, college is also a convenient place to learn the raw skills and traits of business. There are plenty of courses focused on the elements of running a business, along with specific entrepreneurship classes.
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For high school graduates who have an inclination to go into entrepreneurship, making the shift to college can be a tricky one. However, now that many colleges specialize in teaching entrepreneurs, that decision has become easier. Ultimately, college can be a beneficial experience for young entrepreneurs if they take full advantage of it.