I am often asked, “If a student wants to start his own business, should he or she still go to college?” Many famous entrepreneurs boast of never having gotten a degree, but taking some college courses can still be of benefit.
If you choose to enroll in college you need to select those courses that will help you with your plan. You also need to take the opportunity to meet people that may be interested in helping you launch your dream. You must be intentional about what you do with your time in college, always keeping an eye on the outcome.
Below are some opportunities that are offered to college students that may keep you from completely discarding the idea of going to college.
You might choose to participate in an Internship in your industry. The career center on your campus can help you land one of those. Usually they are not offered until you have completed at least one year at the college. After you are no longer a college student the door to these internship opportunities close.
Steven Spielberg chose to do an internship at Universal Studios and he was so valuable in his skills that he was offered a job. He did not complete his degree, but chose to make movies instead! He did return 35 years later to complete that degree, just because he wanted to. His college was worth it for the door it opened to Universal Studios. Before you enroll, ask if the college has connections for internships to the industry you are interested in.
2. College ID: Your Golden Ticket
When you enroll in college you receive a golden ticket to many things. You will be given a college ID or an email address ending in .edu. This gives you the eligibility to purchase business software and equipment for a much-reduced price. If you know you are going to need a certain software, computer or other piece of equipment for your business, buy it while you are a student. In fact, ask for a student discount wherever you shop. You can save significantly on clothes, entertainment and food, but only while you have that proof of student status.
Your college ID or email address will also get you huge discounts to business associations. You can join the Financial Planners Association, for example, for the student membership price of about $25. That will get you the same access as a professional gets, but he has to pay $500! Go to the events and meet people. These could be your future clients.
3. Be Selective About the Courses You Take
If you can get into a marketing course, take it! Any business you build will need to be marketed. You will also need to learn how to market yourself to be successful. Speaking and writing courses are critical to your success as well.
4. Learn Business Software
Make a point to learn software programs that will be a part of your business, like Word, Excel, etc. Build that knowledge while you are in college.
5. Experiment and Gain Expertise on Expensive Equipment
Find out if your college gives access to 3-D printers, audio equipment, cameras, or other expensive items. If so, take the time to learn how to use them. Many colleges pride themselves on having the newest, most update systems. This is a golden opportunity to be able to get some hands-on learning without having to purchase the equipment yourself. Volunteer to work in the drama department on a theater or film production. Others on the set will help you get valuable training and experience while you are still in a position to learn from your mistakes. Once you are in the working world a mistake could cost you a client.
6. Build Friendships
Join clubs, intramural sports teams, or musical groups that interest you. You will find others that have similar interests. These teammates may become lifelong friends or business partners that last even after you have left the college.
7. Build a Success Team
Finally, make it a point to meet people in various majors. When you have a business idea, you may need an engineer to help you build a prototype. A graphic design major can help you create your ads. A business major can help you develop a business plan to get a loan for capital. Your job while in college will be to find key players to help you build a successful team.
Should you go to college or not? Only you can decide that for yourself. It is expensive, but can be very valuable if you proceed with clear intention. Begin by asking yourself what you want your life to look like. Write down everything you can think of that you will need to make that happen. If those things can be gathered while pursuing a degree, then enroll. Realize you don’t have to graduate to make it worthwhile.
Use the college experience for your benefit. Take what will help you and leave what will not. You may need and want that degree so that you can go on to grad school, law school or med school. However, if it means you only attend two years and then withdraw to make movies in Hollywood, well that is a success too!