As college graduates struggle to find traction in the job market, they are increasingly looking to make ends meet by employing themselves. The ranks of post-graduate men and women starting their own businesses as a reaction to futile job searches has been swelling in recent years. In response, colleges are offering entrepreneurship education like never before.
According to a 2008 Kaufmann Foundation study, U.S.colleges offered 20 times the number of entrepreneurship courses than they had in 1985. And now, many business educators believe the time has come to push the envelope even further. These proponents believe there is great benefit to having students cut their teeth on business in high schools.
In a Sept. 9 blog post for Bloomberg Businessweek, writer Patrick Clark reports on research on that very subject has found that there are benefits to preaching the merits of entrepreneurship to students while they are in their formative years.
According to Clark, the non-profit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) claims its research shows that the benefits don’t stop with the development of the next generation of business owners. There is an educational upside as well.
It’s important to note here that NFTE provides and administers the high school entrepreneurship curriculum it researched, and has done so in schools in low-income areas since 1987. Some 500,000 middle school and high school students have taken its courses. The aforementioned research comes from a survey of 1,300 NFTE alums.
Among the findings: a higher high school graduation rate among those who have taken entrepreneurial courses than the population as a whole — NFTE says its research shows that 99 percent of those in its high school programs earned a high school diploma, compared to 85 percent of the population as a whole; half of those students who took its courses went on to get college degrees in math, science, engineering or technology; of those who enrolled in NFTE courses, 47 percent who graduated college with STEM degrees were African American; and the dropout rate of entrepreneurship students between 16 and 19 was 1 percent, compared to the 3.5 percent national average.
“Kids are making decisions when they’re 12 or 13 that will destine them to poverty,” NFTE chief executive Amy Rosen told Clark. “The question is: Can you change the trajectory of a kid’s life in one year-long course by getting them involved in their work? I’ve seen over and over again that you can.”
Clark, Patrick. “The Case for Teaching Entrepreneurship in High School“; Bloomberg BusinessWeek. 9/9/13