Choosing a college to attend after high school is difficult no matter what field you’re going into. Each school offers a variety of courses; along with the unique degrees and certificates you may have available to you if choosing that particular college. If you’re an entrepreneur, the outlook may be a little different than the average student. You want a degree that rounds you in the world of business and creativity. Having both critical thinking and business smarts is important to your future pursuits. So which college is the best for you to take a look at? Below are some schools favored by entrepreneurs and business owners.
Photo Credit: Patrick J. Sweeney II
University of Virginia
I have been impressed with students I’ve hired from the University of Virginia. They have a well rounded education and know what embodies a solid work ethic. Several of the folks I have hired in the past were very eager to learn from my entrepreneurship background (dwinQ is the fourth successful tech company I’ve started) and then went on to start their own companies. The engineering grads at UVA have a critical balance of business and liberal arts that drives a better creative thinking process needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. As a business school alum (MBA) I know that when I hire a top graduate they are no stranger to hard work and heavy lifting. It’s a great combination and as good a predictor for success as I’ve seen.
Thanks to Patrick J. Sweeney II, dwinQ
Photo Credit: Phil Tepfer
I’d like to put in a plug for Babson College. Throughout my 4 years of undergraduate study, nothing was handed down more focused and encompassing than the entrepreneurial coursework, mindset, and support found at Babson College. It’s a school that constantly challenged us, pushed us to the edge, was never afraid to criticize when we were making mistakes, or congratulate when new milestones were achieved. At any given point, every one of my friends were starting businesses – or researching ideas for new ones. And if you weren’t, well – what were you doing there?! Professors and staff were always available, day or night (many times we had their cell phone numbers), and were never afraid to speak their minds to brash young entrepreneurs. They were the first investors to some, and invaluable advisors to many more. I often say entrepreneurship is neither taught, nor a born skill – but a honed craft developed through years of study and practice (read: “failing and getting back up again, and again”). Babson College has been producing by far the sharpest entrepreneurs in the field for years.
Thanks to Phil Tepfer, Kenai Sports
Photo Credit: Joanne Medvitz
Wharton | San Francisco
Entrepreneurs interested in business school often ask me if they need an MBA to start or run their company. Starting a business can’t replace an MBA and an MBA can’t replace starting a business. For me, it was the combination of the two that has enabled our success and drives Pop Outerwear’s continued upward trajectory. My husband and I started Pop Outerwear roughly one year before I enrolled at Wharton| San Francisco. The deep educational roots of Wharton| San Francisco taught me the fundamentals and helped me link my previous work experiences together to form the entire business landscape that I needed to address current issues and avoid pitfalls that so many startups encounter. Don’t get me wrong, we still make plenty of mistakes, but when it comes to high-level strategy, our company has so many resources because of Wharton| San Francisco, that we can call on to help us make the best decision. For example, when it comes to funding and growth capital, I have a classmate who ran his company completely bootstrapped, another who is pursuing the VC channel, and countless alumni who have been there, done that, not only in entrepreneurship but even in our consumer goods, fashion industry. Thanks to the coursework and electives, I can have informed conversations about term sheets, watch for less advantageous clauses, and even call on professors or staff who come from entrepreneurship backgrounds or have deep connections in the investment community.
Thanks to Joanne Medvitz, Pop Outerwear
Photo Credit: Alex Raymond
I got my MBA from INSEAD, which is a great program for aspiring entrepreneurs. INSEAD is not that well known in the US, although it’s recognized as one of the top global MBA schools. I took a number of amazing courses that prepared me for my entrepreneurial career (I’m currently on my second start-up). Two that stand out were “Your First Hundred Days” which was a team-based simulation of running a company with lots of moving parts and “Realizing Entrepreneurial Potential” in which we went through a mock process of acquiring and turning around a company. Both courses were really hands-on and exposed me to the many dilemmas and challenges that you face in the real business world. 3 years out of business school I started my first company, armed with knowledge and real-world experience gained at INSEAD.
Thanks to Alex Raymond, Kapta Systems
Photo Credit: Peter Chee
The Entrepreneurial Masters Program through the Entrepreneur Organization and MIT is a three year program and is the best program that I have been through. The class size is 65 students who are all CEO’s of their company looking to increase their knowledge on the four cornerstones to build a great company. It’s incredible because its not useless text book theory, rather, you take what you learn and immediately apply it to your company. There’s no better way to learn and see the impact. Peer learning from your classmates who are working on their company right now separates this from any other program in the world.
Thanks to Peter Chee, thinkspace
Photo Credit: Jon Ambrose
I’d like to submit Cornell University as the best school for entrepreneurs. I am a first-year MBA student at Johnson, Cornell’s business school. I recently launched a technology start-up company named Rosie in October 2012 thanks to exceptional help and support from Cornell’s on campus network of mentors and advisers. Our growth and successes are significantly due to the exceptional resources and support available at Cornell University. In addition to my company, numerous other start-ups operate on campus through various programs including the eLab and the popshop, a student run entrepreneurship office and work-space that’s open 24/7. Cornell is also planning to expand its programs by building a major office center on the edge of campus that will be called the eHub.
Thanks to Jon Ambrose, RosieApp
Photo Credit: Yanning Li
University of Michigan
As a first year MBA student at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business University of Michigan, I believe the best school for students who want to develop their business is the school that has a solid academic curriculum to enhance the students’ capability of handing the business in specific field, has experienced and committed advisors to provide frequent coaching and feedback, and has well-developed internal and external network resources to help the students build a talented team and test the businesses in the real word. Take my business, Wintergreen Stone, a sustainability service provider in China as an example. Through the Zell Lurie Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, not only did I gain precious, tailored feedback from advisors about business development, but I also learned tremendously about sustainability through courses such as “CleanTech Venture Opportunities” and “New Game Business Model.” I also was able to connect with great external advisors and key contacts through the Institute and because of the strong ties with the Engineering school and other Institutes, I recruited excellent team members with the right skill sets. After we passed certain rounds, the school even offered sponsorships to compete in intercollegiate competitions. I feel extremely fortune that I was able to get all kinds of support from the Zell Lurie Institute at U. Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Thanks to Yanning Li, Wintergreen Stone
Photo Credit: Joe Antenucci
I would like to point you to Enstitute, a new two-year startup school / apprenticeship program based in New York. They are implementing a new low-cost model of higher education with an apprenticeship-based “Learn by Doing” approach that pairs students with startup founders in NYC. Fellows are paid to learn and work Monday – Friday directly under a veteran CEO, founder, and/or key executives where they receive real world experience while learning the valuable skills they need to be compete in a 21st century workplace. Some companies they work with include Thrillist, Bit.ly , and Warby Parker.
Thanks to Joe Antenucci, Shrink for Entrepreneurs
Photo Credit: Katja Schroeder
When I started by PR agency business at the end of 2009, in the midst of the recession, I got accepted to FastTracR NewVenture held at the SUNY Levin Institute. The program is basically a crash course for people at the verge of starting a new venture, covering finance, legal, HR and marketing. It helped me to set the foundation for my business and get it successfully of the ground and growing. I met all the growth goals I had set out to meet at the start. After more than a year, I went back and also attended FastTracR GrowthVenture. This class is more targeted for companies that are running and are looking to grow. It helped me to build a network and understand all the resources I can use for my business. I mostly enjoyed being with other entrepreneurs who face similar challenges in other industries. It was an opportunity to pause and set the direction for the company and apply the process for years to come.
Thanks to Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR
Photo Credit: John Pilmer
Brigham Young University
Narrowing the field to a Utah school is not a stretch with startup monsters like Mozy, Omniture, Vivint among the latest harvesters. The state continues to rack up top accolades for business growth (“hotbed for entrepreneurs” – Inc.). While my MBA alma mater, University of Utah, is ‘kickin’ it’ with their tech transfer office and I teach entrepreneurship at Utah Valley University with a growing program, my 1st alma mater, Brigham Young University has to get my vote for #1 for entrepreneurs. 1-800 Contacts, Word Perfect, Novell, Vivint, Omniture, and US Synthetic are just a drop in the bucket of the startups spawned by this top business school. 30 such startups incubate there this year alone.
Thanks to John Pilmer, APR, PilmerPR, LLC
Photo Credit: Daniel Chen
Wharton | San Francisco – 2
I chose Wharton| San Francisco because it’s the number one ranked executive MBA in the world and because Wharton has invested heavily in its west coast presence. I also wanted a school that would build upon my finance experience and one of Wharton’s key strengths is finance. Classes such as Entrepreneurship, Total Leadership, and Venture Finance have also contributed directly to Bucksprout’s early success. Finally, Wharton San Francisco is in the heart of Silicon Valley, where students can leverage the deep network of alumni, investor and industry contacts Wharton has built over the years. Wharton also has a Venture Initiation Program that identifies and selects a few key student-led start-ups to develop each semester. Bucksprout, as part of the Wharton VIP program, has benefited immensely from connections to other students, start-ups and VCs.
Thanks to Daniel Chen, Bucksprout
Photo Credit: Greg Rudolph
W.P. Carey School of Business
The W.P. Carey School of Business has been a terrific resource throughout the process, with staff and administrators who truly are invested in my success. There is a spirit of entrepreneurship that pervades the school, with students eager to become involved with new ventures and a supportive community of faculty eager to assist. Programs such as the SkySong entrepreneurship campus and Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative provide the resources necessary for success. Even the Barrett Honors College, with its innovative undergraduate thesis program, provides funding and support that have helped make my business a success and provided valuable resources for many of my fellow entrepreneurship-minded classmates.
Thanks to Greg Rudolph, Board Blazers