I have been thinking a lot about college recently. Probably because of all the social media posts of high school graduates and where they are going in the fall or of recent college graduates sharing the start of ‘real life.’ And, of course, the discussions on the expense of attending universities.
This video of Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD talking about college struck me. Whenever someone asks, “Is college necessary?” - my answer is truly, “It depends.” Tyson put into words what I’ve tried to impart to my students.
“You don’t go to college to learn a subject; you go to college to learn how to think.” How many times have we heard folks say they don’t work in their major? Tyson goes on to say you learn how to research, how to know the difference between what is bullshit and what isn’t. You come out of college as a thinker, a problem solver, and a lifelong learner.
As entrepreneurs, we understand the ever-evolving nature of the business world. In our pursuit of success, we often focus on practical skills and strategies. While classes and formal education are undoubtedly valuable, there is a wealth of knowledge and experiences that extend beyond the textbooks and lectures. As a small business consultant, I've seen firsthand the transformative power of these hidden benefits.
Building Diverse Networks:
In college, we find ourselves surrounded by individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and fields of study. This diverse ecosystem provides a unique opportunity to network and forge connections that can be invaluable to our businesses. Whether it's engaging with classmates and professors or attending campus events, college is a hub for fostering relationships that can lead to collaborative partnerships, mentorship opportunities, and access to a wide range of expertise.
Developing Soft Skills:
While technical skills are crucial for any business owner, soft skills play an equally vital role in our entrepreneurial journeys. College life presents many avenues for honing these skills, including teamwork, leadership, communication, and time management. Collaborating on group projects, leading student organizations, and participating in extracurricular activities can all contribute to the development of these essential qualities, enhancing our ability to navigate the complexities of running a small business.
Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset:
College can be a breeding ground for innovation and creativity. Immersed in an environment that encourages critical thinking and problem-solving, attending college can foster an entrepreneurial mindset. Exposure to diverse ideas, intellectual challenges, and thought-provoking discussions can inspire us to think creatively, identify new opportunities, and approach business challenges with fresh perspectives.
Nurturing Resilience and Grit:
The path to success is rarely smooth, and as small business owners, we encounter numerous obstacles along the way. College life, with its demanding coursework, extracurricular commitments, and the juggling act of personal responsibilities, teaches us resilience and grit. Navigating through the ups and downs of academic life instills the determination and perseverance necessary to weather the storms of entrepreneurship. It prepares us to adapt to adversity, make tough decisions, and stay focused on our goals.
Embracing the holistic college experience allows us to tap into a vast array of resources, expertise, and transformative experiences that can propel our businesses to new heights.
While the hidden benefits of attending college are numerous, it's important to acknowledge that success can be achieved without a college degree. There are countless examples of entrepreneurs and business leaders whom have excelled without formal education. The path to success is not limited to a college campus, and alternative routes can lead to remarkable achievements. Some individuals may choose to pursue entrepreneurship at a young age, while others find success through vocational training or self-education.
Ultimately, the decision to attend college or not should be based on individual circumstances, aspirations, and preferences. It is crucial to evaluate the specific needs and goals to determine the best course of action. While college offers unique advantages, it is not the only pathway to success. The entrepreneurial spirit, dedication, and continuous learning are what truly drive achievements in the business world.
Remembering it’s not just about the classes—it's about unlocking a world of knowledge and experiences that can help shape well-rounded thinkers and problem solvers.
SMALL BIZ OF THE MONTH
I’ve written about Mastiha Bakery many times. My dear friend Katerina has built a strong following for her pita bread, authentic Greek pastries, dips and other savory treats. She and her business partner, Rob have now launched the Mastiha Taverna food truck. Insider tip: get the krokettes tiri - mix of 3 Greek cheese fried. Check out their Instagram and Facebook for the latest and their hours They also have a Kickstarter if you’d like to support their growth.