Many young people today who are considering going to college know that they are destined to become entrepreneurs. For so many, college is about the “experience”; personal growth and a well-rounded education. The challenge for aspiring entrepreneurs is the selection of an area of focus or degree. Some are lucky enough to have a solid entrepreneurship program in their selected college or university. The best entrepreneurship programs go beyond the addition of one or two classes to a traditional business degree and truly focus on market analysis, iterative processes, empathy, prototyping and the like. If you’re lucky enough to attend a university that has one of these elite entrepreneurship programs then the entrepreneurship degree is a no-brainer. Students who don’t have that opportunity must consider what area of study to pursue which might best support their entrepreneurial aspirations. The following is a top 10 list of degree programs that can, in the right environments, prepare a person to be a successful entrepreneur.
#10 Communication: Although most communication programs are among the weakest offered at a university, the ability to present ideas and to communicate industry-specific information can be very helpful. Although it is not my top recommendation, it does help a person learn how to connect with a buyer and properly deliver the appropriate message.
#9 Business: Traditional business programs spend too much time across a broad spectrum of courses that offer a troubling lack of depth. Too many business students are unable to succeed because they lack real tools to impact organization and therefore lack tools to impact communities.
#8 Chemistry: A smart, young scientific-thinking student can leverage their understanding of chemistry and turn their hand to a host of creative businesses. A chemist who understands how to apply science to industry has big opportunities in front of them. Chemists are rare and commonly scooped up by corporate America.
#7 Marketing: Although marketing by itself is not much stronger than communication, it does provide a basic understanding of the process of leading an audience toward a desired result. Marketing alone is too shallow unto itself and must be supplemented with ongoing learning.
#6 Physics: Persons who study physics who have a thorough understanding of how things work, how they might be improved, and who might benefit from these improvements are in an excellent position to become successful entrepreneurs. The understanding of physics demonstrates the ability to think and imagine which are both critical to entrepreneurship.
#5 Psychology: Understanding people and the motivations behind behaviors might be the single greatest resource for an entrepreneur. A student who is wise enough to forgo the ethereal elements of psychology and focus on the practical nature of human behavior has great opportunity to understand the market and benefit from this knowledge.
#4 Finance: A solid accounting and finance background is always helpful. The challenge is making the jump from corporate finance training to the applications needed as an entrepreneur. A finance degree requires a great deal of supplemental learning for an entrepreneur.
#3 Engineering: Learning how to think about innovation, iterative production improvements, and design is an amazing tool kit for the entrepreneur. Many of our nation’s successful entrepreneurs were trained as engineers and were able to turn that training into personal wealth.
#2 Information Technology: The computer is the most important tool in the toolbox of any entrepreneur. It is the source of solutions and information in today’s society. It has become the most important resource to our populous for finding and gathering data. A student could never go wrong with an education in Information Technology, especially if they can see applications touching the lives of people.
And the #1 degree selection for an entrepreneur is Literature:
A student who not only loves to read, but focuses their academic attention on understanding life through the eyes of another, teaches the student how to think from multiple perspectives. Not only does the student learn to think, but the student experiences life’s teachings through stories, poems, and allegories. Not only is this student prepared to understand human nature, but they are ready to learn vicariously through the experiences of others. An individual who studies literature has quieted their thoughts to favor the thoughts of others. In other words, they are a true learner. A learner will be successful in any endeavor.
These thoughts are based upon observation and not meant to categorize anyone or any degree. These generalizations are meant to offer a new perspective. Have fun with them and remember, your job is to gain knowledge, add to it, and pass it along.