One of the most exciting things in higher education is when colleges are willing to take a new approach to become more effective and relevant. Some colleges have been reflecting on current curriculum, graduate employability, and the value of entrepreneurship. From that reflection, they are trying some new strategies, in particular, strategies that integrate entrepreneurship.
One example is Babson College in Massachusetts. Babson revamped its curriculum so students are infused with a high level of entrepreneurial skills. Scott Gerber describes the new student experience (How Liberal Arts Colleges Are Failing America The Atlantic 9/24/12):
Today, every freshman who walks into Babson goes immediately to work with a team to create, develop, launch and manage a new business (and they donate their profits to nonprofits). Students spend just 14 hours a week in classthe other 154 are spent elsewhere, in special interest housing or working on student-led initiatives. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a course.
This sounds like something very close to a total-immersion entrepreneur experience. What the student learns throughout that practical, hands-on, real-world application of knowledge is phenomenal.
Gerber is not saying we should throw out liberal arts. He is saying we must restructure how we teach it for improved outcomes. He is saying the integration of entrepreneurship into the total student experience will make that student a more successful professional after graduation. Gerber explains:
Im not suggesting we get rid of liberal arts departmentsIm suggesting we create more employable English and film majors. Well-rounded and self-sufficient shouldnt be mutually exclusive concepts, and combining experiential learning with access to business role models and public/private partnerships can fundamentally transform the way we think about workforce development.
Over the long haul, we should keep an eye on graduates of these types of programs and compare them to graduates from colleges that do not use the entrepreneurship-integration model. My guess is the approach Babson College has developed will give its graduates an edge. And these days, who doesnt want that?
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