Gen Z entrepreneurs view higher education as vital to their startups
A 2011 survey by Gallup found 77 percent of students in grades 5 through 12 said they want to be their own boss and 45 percent planned to start their own business. Today, many of those students are now in college.
Penn State, Indiana University, University of North Carolina, Georgia Tech, University of Michigan, Ohio State and other leading public institutions all have thriving entrepreneurial centers that are available to all students, as well as community members and businesses. Penn State alone has opened 21 entrepreneurial spaces across Pennsylvania, and in just two years, we’ve engaged with more than 4,500 students.
Traditionally, higher education has focused their investment on faculty entrepreneurs, hoping to find a breakthrough like the next Gatorade (University of Florida) or Lyrica (Northwestern University). Since universities don’t own the rights to undergraduate intellectual property, there has been less incentive to support these efforts.
While we universities are taking a risk on students without a guaranteed immediate return on investment, we think the potential outcomes — for example in alumni support and building our local economies — are worth it.
With their minds set on this entrepreneurial future, a common narrative has emerged that students are skipping college to start their own businesses. In reality, 8 in 10 students believe college is important to achieving their career goals. Sixty-three percent of those same students – all between the ages of 16 and 19 — said they want to learn about entrepreneurship in college, including how to start a business.
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