Learning Entrepreneurship: Something School Doesn't Teach

by Shonali Burke on June 30, 2010

Plague, meet Consumer Economics.

In my senior year of high school, I had to take Consumer Economics — a class devoted to teaching me how to handle my checkbook, make a budget and generally be a good consumer. This type of class is mandatory in most states (despite incredible efforts on the part of students such as myself to avoid it like the plague).

But there’s no mandatory class telling students how to be good entrepreneurs.

That may have made sense when most students were headed for a job — or even a career — with a decent-sized company that would keep them busy for the rest of their lives. But these days, the odds are pretty good that many students will at least have a side business at some point in their lives, if not run their own business full-time.

Image: Dean Terry, Creative Commons

An entrepreneur education class simply makes sense as a way to prepare students for running their own businesses.

An Entrepreneurial Education Class Should Include…

High school is, more often than not, about practical, hands-on skills. Teaching students the mechanics of business — how to do things like put together an invoice — would be a great basis. But such a class could go beyond those basics.

Showing students how to find mentors, especially female students who may be unsure in their own abilities to start a business, would be incredibly useful to a high school student who may not be sure what she wants to do after graduation.

Related subjects, like time management, would certainly come in handy. When I started college, I was freelancing on the side in order to make money.

Knowing a bit more about how to handle my responsibilities would have been useful.

The Necessity of Entrepreneurial Education

I’ve mentioned the idea of an entrepreneurial class at the high school level to teachers, entrepreneurs and other folks. The general response I’ve gotten is that the idea seems nice, but not all students actually go on to be entrepreneurs.

But the number of small business owners is on the rise, in every age group.

Furthermore, it isn’t as if every student who goes through a consumer education class actually uses the information in it.

Considering that even when I took the class, the information was outdated — there was no mention of any online tools when I took the class and I didn’t graduate from high school all that long ago — there’s no point in avoiding reconsidering the priorities we choose for education.

What would you have wanted to learn from an entrepreneurial education class?

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Regular contributor Thursday Bram offers content marketing through Hyper Modern Consulting, as well as more traditional writing services. She’s also the co-creator of Constructively Productive, the blog that’s bringing perspective to productivity. You can find Thursday on Twitter.

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