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So You Want to Be a Young Entrepreneur

By by Hally Pinaud

Many universities today offer entrepreneurial courses, advisers, internship programs, and a few have become completely focused on entrepreneurial integration at every level of your college career.

Depending on what you're looking for, here are some schools that have great opportunities for the innovators of tomorrow.

Entrepreneurial Pioneers

Some schools have worked hard to make entrepreneurship a base for every student. The University of Arizona's McGuire Entrepreneurship Program gives students venture planning experience through a four year program that is recognized as highly selective and innovative, and was the first of its kind. Everyone in the program is exposed to multiple levels of the entrepreneurial experience in academic and hands-on settings. Students expect a rigorous four years and come out with an acute understanding of the business world.

Babson College has pioneered many entrepreneurial teaching methods and became the first school to offer a course in entrepreneurship. While earning a degree in any concentration at Babson, students find entrepreneurship integrated into every course, ensuring that they have a depth of practical and technical knowledge on the subject. Beyond a discipline, the school boasts entrepreneurship as a "way of life," and it's common to meet students here who are already running their own successful businesses.

Venture Classrooms

If you're looking for a place where you can take a load of preparatory courses to learn the fundamentals of starting your own business, look no further than DePaul University, where you can elect a major or minor in the field, or take advantage of the Ryan Center for Creativity and Innovation. Another school with the opportunity to major or take a few classes in entrepreneurial studies is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, well known for having great networks and student organizations as well. At Fairleigh Dickenson University, as a business major, you're required to take courses in entrepreneurship.

If you're not ready to commit your semester to the cause but still want some entrepreneurial academic exposure, Drexel University makes a point of integrating concepts in the classroom and encouraging students of all majors to participate in a number of workshops offered by the school, in addition to offering courses. You could also choose Stanford University, where the Draper Fisher Jurvetson Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar Series hosts many high-tech entrepreneurial guest speakers every year.

Hands-on Approach

Want the opportunity to build your dream right on campus? Several colleges offer start-up facilities to students in an effort to help them get their ideas planned out and off the ground. At Syracuse University, students have the opportunity to create ventures in "The Couri Hatchery," a space that offers room and tools for concepts to be realized and developed. Xavier University has the Entrepreneurial Learning Lab, where students can start businesses on site and utilize advisers and administrative help from the business school to hit the ground running. The University of Illinois has an Entrepreneurial Learning Lab as well, where budding business minds can create prototypes with guidance.

At the University of Dayton you can do all this for credit--just join the entrepreneurial program, and you will spend your sophomore year in a team, building a micro-company on campus. In fact, many colleges now offer hands-on entrepreneurial skill-building courses: check out Temple University and the University of New Hampshire, which both offer unique programs that focus on learning entrepreneurship through experience on campus.

Learn from the Pros

Sometimes what you want is a little practical experience. The University of North Dakota offers a well recognized internship network for anyone interested in entrepreneurship. Northeastern University's Entrepreneurship Center provides networking assistance for advice, and will help you find a professional who's been through the process to guide you through fleshing out your big dream, any time of year. Boston University's Entrepreneurial Management Institute and Louisiana State University have two highly successful mentorship programs that specialize in pairing students with entrepreneurs. To really learn by example, Loyola Marymount University's "Diamond in the Rough" program gives a few innovative students a highly involved four years of mentorship as they develop their own businesses in college.

Of course, many more colleges offer a multitude of opportunities to learn entrepreneurship, and the number grows every year. Young entrepreneurs should be sure to check out the resources at their colleges of choice, and to make sure they take advantage of them early and often. The kind of support that comes from a college campus is often a lot harder to find after graduation.

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