Remember high school yearbook superlatives? Almost everyone had a classmate who, even if they weren’t voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” everyone knew would become a millionaire before the ten-year reunion. Mine was Ben Drucker, founder of Valet.io, a fundraising platform. In high school, his business ventures were always being written about in our school newspaper. Wouldn’t it have been great if he could have learned about entrepreneurship in high school? With a new push to incorporate entrepreneurship into high school curricula, it is now possible for such students to develop an interest in becoming business leaders earlier in their education.
High school entrepreneurship courses teach students a myriad of important skills. They teach basic financial literacy and money management skills, targeted at managing business finances. These courses also include in-depth business lessons on networking, engaging with customers, writing a business plan, creating investments and managing time well. The main goal is to bridge the gap between a student’s interest and their ability to act on their ideas.
Entrepreneurial education at the high school level exists throughout the world, notably at African Leadership Academy near Johannesburg, South Africa. Students develop an original business idea that they apply throughout their education and learn many practical entrepreneurial skills to build, improve and maintain that business. According to Time’s Dayo Olopade, this “prepares them for a society that needs both hard skills and soft skills—not least working within and leading teams.”
The need for entrepreneurial skills is felt in the United States as well. Tricia Granata, executive director of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), says, “Many young people naturally have an entrepreneurial spirit . . . but what they don’t have are technical skills. We can teach them things to make sure that innate entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t get wasted.”
Individual entrepreneurial courses have been implemented in American schools by the NFTE since its founding in 1987. Entrepreneurship training programs are offered for teachers who can learn and then bring the courses back to their schools. Students create their own business plans and then compete regionally for start-up money to invest in their business ventures.
Chante Goodwin took an entrepreneurship class while attending Suitland High School in Forestville, Maryland. She said the course caught the attention of many fellow business-minded classmates. “Suddenly, people in my other classes who sat in the back and didn’t care were sitting up and participating,” she explains. Goodwin went on to develop her idea for a computer repair company into a successful business called Your Way IT Solutions in Washington, DC, where it now services many government clients. Goodwin’s story shows how entrepreneurship classes can shape a student’s path. Providing the opportunity to learn business skills so early helps students realize that with hard work, they can succeed by building new businesses.
Did You Know?
A new generation of teenage entrepreneurs has found that good ideas, social media savvy and commitment to social awareness can create a recipe for success. Moziah Bridges, the 13-year-old owner of Mo’s Bows, donates bow ties to certain benefits and gives a portion of his funds to help kids going to summer camp. Madison Robinson, the 15-year-old founder of FishFlops, has donated over 20,000 flip-flops to children worldwide.
Photo Credit: Robuart