The Growth of College Entrepreneurship

4/23/08

Collegiate entrepreneurship is indisputably on the rise. More students seem to value the growth of their own assets over assisting the growth of others’ and are as a result seeking ventures in lieu of jobs. In support of this trend, universities are becoming increasingly encouraging of entrepreneurial activity, launching new programs, competitions, organizations, and other initiatives. The results are outstanding: there are nearly 7,500 new startups each year from the top 25 entrepreneurial schools alone.

The 2007 Princeton Review of the Top 50 Best Entrepreneurial Colleges shows that last year 17,743 students were enrolled in the top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs, with a cumulative total of 442 entrepreneurial courses offered and 75 clubs and organizations established. Of these students, more than 25 percent started a business while in school, putting the total number of startups at 4,487. Approximately 68 percent of these businesses are still operating. In addition, another 18 percent of these recent graduates started another 3,189 businesses.

While entrepreneurial programs are strong and flourishing amongst undergraduate programs, the same has been observed in the top 25 graduate programs. According to the same study, last year there were 12,139 students enrolled in an entrepreneurial master’s program with a cumulative total of 503 entrepreneurial courses and more than 90 clubs and organizations. Of these students, more than 8 percent started a business while in school, putting the total number of startups at 1,033. Approximately 89 percent of these businesses are still operating. On top of this, another 14 percent of recent graduates started another 1,701 businesses. This means that nearly 2,000 businesses are started each year by recent graduates and students still in school receiving their master’s.

Universities clearly offer a thriving ecosystem that lends itself particularly well to entrepreneurship among students. They are packed with free or low-cost resources as well as large bodies of talented individuals who can offer advice or come aboard the venture. Given the hyper-locality of the student body, it has also been very easy for student entrepreneurs to map the ecosystem leveraged by other successful collegiate startups; therefore, there is greater awareness of resources and human capital. More still, from our extensive coverage of student-run companies at College Mogul, the common theme of targeting local businesses as customers, vendors, or advertisers suggests that the supportive environment of a university extends beyond the campus walls.

All of the founders of College Mogul are currently student entrepreneurs, so we believe that this growing trend is something to celebrate and acknowledge. There is much to be learned from student enterprises, which is why we offer analysis of what appears to be working and what certainly is not. But regardless of their success, given that most student founders are balancing startups with school, organizations, part-time jobs, friends, and family, the stories of how they came to be and how they operate are truly inspirational.

Miles Lennon is the Editor of College Mogul, a blog that obsessively profiles and reviews new and existing companies and organizations run by students and young entrepreneurs. Follow @

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  • http://www.ZaggedEdge.com ZaggedEdge

    Hey, thanks for the post on collegiate entrepreneurship. We love this stuff!!!

  • http://businessrebirth.blogspot.com Shallie Bey

    Miles, thanks for an interesting post on entrepreneurship on college campuses. You are right that people are seeking ownership rather than merely finding jobs. I think it is equally important to mention that people are seeking to find solutions to the problems we face. For the people who want to consider entrepreneurship, there are a host of opportunities to change the world.

    In fact, in November of this year there will be a new effort to promote entrepreneurship. This will be the first time effort among more than 60 countries to establish Global Entrepreneurship Week. I hope this international effort will be an inspiration to young people across the world to face the challenge of their dreams and not to be frozen by the fear of loss. Let’s hope your blog will encourage young entrepreneurs on college campuses around the world to give it a try.

    Shallie Bey
    Smarter Small Business Blog