Running a small business can be an extremely positive experience for college students. They can acquire the skills of marketing their products and brands in real time with real results.
Students will encounter failure from time to time and it’s a crucial component of learning. Beyond that, college students will have the ability to showcase the technical hands-on skills they bring from unique experiences on their resumes. The economic landscape intrinsically rewards risk-takers who dare to take a chance on success. This is an opportunity that ought to be widely available to all students from a variety of backgrounds.
Most students, however, already have their schedules filled to the brim. Being a full-time student and managing up to 18 credits per semester demands hours more of additional studying, reading preparation, managing group projects and writing term papers. Fulfilling the requirements of being a diligent student are already enormous.
Moreover, prospective employers expect millennials to take part in a rich diversity of extracurricular organizations as a means to broaden classroom learning. Being competitive in the job market is a tremendous burden for young adults, especially given their prospective chances of employment in a tight and often unsuccessful labor market. Employers are anxious about their productivity bottom lines and aim to compensate for that through increasing demands upon those who will shortly enter the labor market.
In effect, those students who are already drowning in the current expectations of workforce employers cannot keep up with ever-increasing standards.
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It can be said that college students, if truly determined, could feasibly juggle the responsibilities of being a full-time student with the incessant responsibilities of being a small business owner. I relent, this could feasibly be true. But frankly, this comes at the expense of hanging out with friends and finding genuine relaxation in the midst of daily hubbub.
What it boils down to is a simple cost-benefit analysis, the likes of which are familiar to any business or economics major. The fact of the matter is bearing another burden, hardly a minor one at that, on top of a mountain full of to-do’s, studying for a deluge of exams and taking initiative outside the classroom via extracurricular activities is simply not realistic.
These appeals for greater and grander things will inevitably break the camel’s back at some point. For a vast majority of college students, this is a step far too much to handle.
I have no qualms that experience in running a small business is a valued asset in determining one’s economic destiny and is incredibly important for employers to distinguish between applicants who’ve shown a knack for entrepreneurship. But given its impracticality in implementation, I believe it’s best to chart a middle ground where the university offers this kind of coursework to give students the entrepreneurial spirit and hands-on experience lacking in the traditional classroom context.
This could operate as the perfect blend between the conflicting demands of time management and the desires of the private sector to bolster its up-and-coming workforce. It goes beyond the simple lecture-discussion format in both quality of content and lifelong memories. Depending on the discretion of the administrators, the course could take form in a number of credit variations, making it most accessible to the greatest number of students.
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All said, an entrepreneurial repertoire can be a game changer in this modern economy. UW should develop these practical courses to reflect their importance to employers and in navigating the difficult workforce terrain. Offering an assortment of course options to meet the diverse course schedules of students on campus would ensure they’re accessible.
College students are busy people and UW is in a unique position to initiate a program such that students can acquire both skills from the business world and the functional knowledge from the classroom without overloading students with a ridiculous schedule. This kind of system preserves students’ academic sanity while preparing them for financial success.
Michael Sauer ([email protected]) is a freshman intending to major in political science.