Campus Entrepreneurs as Misfits Schools Can’t Handle?

I cruised by the Students 2.0 blog and found this post by Sean the Bass Player,

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

This quote, of course, comes from the famous Apple Think Different ad campaign. Students 2.0 takes it as a jumping off point to discuss higher education’s inability to ‘deal’ with the rebels, misfits, and troublemakers. While the blog doesn’t mention entrepreneurs, its clear that many colleges and universities are having trouble figuring out what to do with those students who want to start ventures while on campus. According to the Sean’s entry,

Let’s face it; the current education system just doesn’t know how to handle these kinds of people. “The round pegs in the square holes,” as Apple refers to them. The system doesn’t understand creativity. It robs all students of their creative consciousness and replaces it with structure, structure, and more structure, only to prepare them for a 9-to-5 job, Monday to Friday, every week of every year for the rest of their lives. Art, Music, Drama… you name it, the current system has a course for it. But that course doesn’t do any form of justice to the many greats that have over hundreds of years created amazing works and done incredible things, demonstrating how beautiful these arts can be. Students aren’t told to let passion drive them forward, or let their inspiration flow and their imagination stop at nothing. They are told to follow the rules, and do whatever it takes to get a ‘pass.’ Where would we be if Bach was told his Brandenburg concertos ‘didn’t quite meet the required standard’? What would have happened if Van Gogh was told his paintings just ‘didn’t make sense’

As we saw in Chad Moutray’s recent paper on BA majors and the self-employed, the self-employed have lower GPAs that those who go for the corporate, non-profit, or governmental jobs.

There are a handful of schools doing an exceptional job working with entrepreneurial students (Babson, the Acton MBA,  Stanford and others), but most don’t handle them well — perhaps thats why we see a fair amount of campus entrepreneurs dropping out when their firms start doing well. It is time for Administrators and Professors to ‘think different’ in their approach to working with these students. Any thoughts or recommendations?


2 thoughts on “Campus Entrepreneurs as Misfits Schools Can’t Handle?

  1. JR

    So what would you suggest as far as “thinking different”? (I happen to agree with you on the need to approach different — but it is a tough row to how to get buy in from administration)

  2. You are absolutely correct… some thoughts include seed funding/work space/resources for students interested in starting firms… also, more flexibility in terms of requirements for coursework would also help students who are interested in building entrepreneurial careers. offering credit for students who launch firms (schools often award credit for internships)

    whats most interesting in my mind and what I was discussing with a GMU prof recently is that entrepreneurial students will often get around rigid administrators by leaving school or openly breaking rules

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