dcsimg
You are here:

What You Learn Matters More Than Where You Learn It

In an article posted on TechCrunch, an entrepreneur-turned-academic writes about his research into the relationship between successful entrepreneurship and the education of the business founders. What found in his profiles of successful business leaders might surprise you. Author Vivek Wadhwa is a research associate at Harvard and chairs a research division at Duke.

In one of his surveys he looked at the educational credentials of American born tech company founders. They interviewed 628 business founders who received their education from 287 unique universities. Almost every major U.S. university was represented in the group; the top ten schools represented by this group had produced only 19% of the sample. In other words, the Dartmouths, Yales, and Berkeleys accounted for less than one fifth of the successful entrepreneurs. The other 81% graduated from "regular" schools.

The next survey they conducted looked into the overall backgrounds of the founders of 549 successful businesses across a range of high-growth industries. The proportion of top schools in this sample was even smaller. But the statistics that emerged about when these entrepreneurs made their move does a lot of damage to the image of the twenty-something geeks who start tech businesses and make millions doing the only thing they know.

The survey showed that businessmen with MBA degrees acted sooner after graduation than those with bachelor's degrees - but the difference was thirteen years after graduation as opposed to seventeen years. All of these professionals had years of business experience. Both there groups moved faster than the PhD grads, who waited an average of 21 years before establishing their own businesses.

Returning to the degree orientation, they noted that holders of information technology degrees acted faster than the MBA graduates - thirteen years versus fifteen years. Bringing up the rear were the graduates with applied science degrees, who opened their doors twenty years after graduation. Of course, neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobs waited at all - they dropped out of college to go into business.

Mr. Wadhwa makes the point that the successful entrepreneurs he interviewed valued their education. Seventy percent of the graduates from regular colleges endorsed the importance of their learning experience, while eighty one percent of the Ivy League graduates said the same. Less than twenty percent of either group found networking with fellow alumni to be important.

The message in these surveys is clear: it's what you learn that matters, not where you learn it. An Ivy League degree makes it easier to get into high level law firms or investment houses, but those opportunities have nothing to do with entrepreneurship.

Search Schools

      
Matching School Ads
  • Full Sail University - Online

    Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy.

    Programs

    • Creative Writing, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
    • Entertainment Business, Master of Science (Online)
    • Audio Production Bachelors (Online)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Full Sail University - Online Request Info »
  • Animal Behavior College

    Interested in a career as a professional dog trainer? Animal Behavior College is the place to start.

    Programs

    • Veterinary Assistant
    • Grooming Instruction
    • Certified Dog Trainer Instructor Course

    Location: Online

    Animal Behavior College Request Info »
  • Unitek College

    Unitek College™ is a privately held vocational school dedicated to helping you gain the skills needed to advance your career or begin a brand new career. 

    Programs

    • Bachelor of Science Nursing - RN to BSN

    Location: Online

    Unitek College Request Info »
  • Keiser University

    For over 35 years, Keiser University has provided student-centered, quality career education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

    Programs

    • Associate of Science in Medical Assisting Science
    • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
    • Associate of Science in Information Technology
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Keiser University Request Info »
  • Post University Online

    At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education.

    Programs

    • B.S. in Marketing
    • B.S. in Finance / Corporate Finance
    • Certificate: Paralegal (Legal Studies)
    • More...
    Location:
    Waterbury: 800 Country Club Rd. P.O. Box 2540, Waterbury CT 06723
    Post University Online Request Info »
  • Los Angeles Film School

    Get the career of your dreams with an education from the Los Angeles Film School.

    Programs

    • Bachelor of Science, Digital Filmmaking (Online)
    • Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design (Online)
    • Associate of Science, Music Production (Online)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Los Angeles Film School Request Info »
  • Intercoast Colleges

    Get your career started with Intercoast Colleges.

    Programs

    • Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies
    • Online Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies

    Location: Online

    Intercoast Colleges Request Info »
  • South University, Online Programs

    Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

    Programs

    • Specialization in Nurse Administrator (RN-MSN)
    • Paralegal Studies (AS)
    • Post Graduate Certificate in Nursing with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
    • More...
    Location:
    Savannah: 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah GA 31406
    South University, Online Programs Request Info »
  • University of Maryland at College Park

    Study online with University of Maryland at College Park.

    Programs

    • MBA - Finance
    • MBA - Information Systems & Business Analytics
    • MBA - Marketing
    • More...
    Location:
    College Park: , College Park MD 20742
    University of Maryland at College Park Request Info »
  • Simmons College School of Social Work

    Programs

    • Master of Social Work
    Location:
    Boston: 300 The Fenway, Boston MA 02115
    Simmons College School of Social Work Request Info »
  • Matching School Ads

    Quick School Search

    College & Career Search Tools

    • Careers: Unsure about your career path? Study profiles of hundreds of professions.

    • Interviews: Professors and deans sit down with our team to give you unique insights on college life.

    • Military Education: Find only Military friendly online schools and campuses.

    • Student Reviews: Know before you go. Read student reviews on over 2000 accredited colleges. Write your own experience.