All throughout high school and going into college, people would look at my interest in the humanities and my English major and ask that dreaded question “What are you going to do with that?” The assumption there being that there were only a finite number of (unappealing) things that I could do with that.
At every program I facilitate with 3 Day Startup, there are students — not just in the humanities, but in hard sciences like biology and chemistry — that still show the after-effects of that same limitation. They often believe in the myth that only engineering or computer science majors really have a place in the startup sphere.
And that’s not the only myth being perpetuated to students from a young age.
At a recent program, I asked the room full of participants what assumptions they had about entrepreneurs. The first girl who raised her hand said loud and clear “You have to have money.” And the room nodded in agreement.
The idea that entrepreneurship is somehow for the elite is a dangerous one, and one that educators across the country should be taking every step to strike down. Particularly since interest in entrepreneurship education is growing in the younger generations, and with it grows the interest of schools and communities to start the education young.
In colleges and universities over 1,600 formal entrepreneurship programs are thriving, the highest it has ever been. And those schools are working to make sure that they support their student entrepreneurs to the best of their ability. As of 2012, over a third of business incubators were housed on college campuses.
Trends like these not only demonstrate the increased importance given to entrepreneurship education, but also allow for increased accessibility.
For students who think that entrepreneurship doesn’t apply to their discipline, or that they can’t make it because they don’t have family money backing them, that’s a big deal.
Because entrepreneurship is a part of your future, regardless of background or discipline.
More and more studies are coming out showing that Generation Z is the most entrepreneurially inclined generation yet. And that will undoubtedly help them more as the nature of work continues to change. Widespread entrepreneurship education can help them hone those skills even further and start creating innovation in long dormant sectors of the market.
That includes sectors outside the scope of most engineering, computer science, and “traditional” entrepreneurship and business majors.
In fact, there is even some room for argument that liberal arts students also make for excellent entrepreneurs, with their emphasis on critical thinking, communication, and problem solving throughout their studies.
And with the changing nature of work and the growth of entrepreneurship, there is no room for exclusion in entrepreneurship education. Not only can students of all disciplines benefit from entrepreneurship education (and even become successful entrepreneurs) but they should
Entrepreneurship is quickly developing into a literacy that students of all kinds, everywhere should be well versed in. Whether they want to start their own ventures or not.
What do we mean when we say that entrepreneurship is a literacy?
In short, much like reading, writing, and basic arithmetic, basic entrepreneurial skills are quickly becoming necessary to successfully move through the world. Increasingly, we as a society are placing a premium on self-promotion, innovation, and creative problem solving. And all of these skills go hand in hand with entrepreneurial training, even if the individual’s end-goal has nothing to do with starting a company.
So, should we be starting earlier?
Here at 3 Day Startup, we specialize in college and university students — with experience in some high schools as well. But more and more programs and camps and classes are bringing entrepreneurship to students even at the elementary school level.
And this is extremely promising for the future of entrepreneurship education. Even though these classes and practices are not completely widespread yet, experts agree that the younger we introduce kids to entrepreneurship, the better. Because when you introduce these skills early and often, it profoundly benefits students.
As Florina Rodov and Sabrina Truong wrote in a piece for Entrepreneur, “Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy.”
Entrepreneurship is a powerful force that can drive innovation, create social change, and transcend societal barriers. Which means building those skills in the English majors, the artists, the students in rural communities, and the immigrants, goes to build us all towards a better world.