Youth Entrepreneurship in Higher Education



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In recent years, youth entrepreneurship has become a trending topic amongst colleges and universities across the United States. At Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in the Leadership Lab Initiative this summer, I examined the causes of the uptick in youth entrepreneurship and how universities are supporting young entrepreneurs pursuing their college degrees. Our lab discovered that college students today are more likely to pursue entrepreneurship over traditional careers because of their desire to make a difference and their fear of another economic recession that could potentially leave them jobless after years of service at a particular company or corporation. As part of the research, I interviewed 73 student entrepreneurs, professors of entrepreneurship courses, and directors of centers for entrepreneurship at 43 of the top 50 universities known for their entrepreneurship programs. We found two major results. First, we discovered that there is a generation of young founders emerging, due in part to what many call the “Facebook effect,” that we are calling Generation F. Second, entrepreneurship is being taught using the lean startup method and advanced experiential learning and we are calling that style of teaching the Creation-Based Learning Model. We discovered that interest in entrepreneurship is rising immensely, but the number of students pursuing entrepreneurship post-graduation is still relatively small, perhaps in part due to the risk factors involved in starting a business. Despite this, many of those interviewed mentioned that the barriers of entry for entrepreneurs have never been lower. This presentation will focus on the role of experiential learning and educational supports available for student entrepreneurs at colleges and universities across the country, as well as discuss in depth what defines a member of Generation F and the pedagogy surrounding the Creation-Based Learning Model.