Martin Center column weighs costs, benefits of college for entrepreneurs

Michael McGrady writes for the Martin Center about the calculations an entrepreneur should make about whether to attend college.

Launching a business is always a risk. And for young entrepreneurs, their path to success isn’t clear. But the long-debated question of whether an individual should jump right into running an infant business remains focused on one question: is a university education required for someone to be a successful entrepreneur?

“The short answer to your question is no,” Buck Goldstein, the entrepreneur in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in an email. “Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, among others, prove that.”

Goldstein has previously argued in a Martin Center article that entrepreneurship is an acquired mindset and series of skills developed through willingness and education. “A rigorous combination of theory and practice gives those who are willing to embark on an entrepreneurial journey a much higher likelihood of success,” he wrote. This entrepreneurial mindset is not limited to college graduates.

And the numbers reflect the success of those who skipped a traditional college route. According to a 2017 CNBC/Survey Monkey survey, small business owners without bachelor degrees outnumber those with one—56 percent of respondents only had an associate degree at most.

Yet, a college education can still be of value to budding entrepreneurs. “Certain techniques and methods and an entrepreneurial mindset can be taught, and this knowledge can be valuable,” Goldstein said.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

Reader Comments