Why K-12 Entrepreneurial Education Is Critical To A Student’s Success

Why K-12 Entrepreneurial Education Is Critical To A Student’s Success

Why K-12 Entrepreneurial Education Is Critical To A Student’s Success

“Honestly, I didn’t even know it was an option,” she said.

A recent college graduate, she sat across the table from me at the Venture Center explaining that she didn’t even know places like the Venture Center existed.

“I always assumed that entrepreneurs were special. They had all the connections or money,” she continued. “But now I see that anyone can do it. You don’t just have to settle for any old job.”

The Venture Center recently welcomed a group of students from eStem High School’s Noble Impact program in an effort to expose students to the community’s entrepreneurial resources.

Where Does Entrepreneurial Education Start?

Entrepreneurism begins with the realization that launching a new business is possible. If you never understand that opening a startup is a career choice, you never try. Entrepreneurism remains distant. It is something “out there.” It’s not a viable option.

How many great ideas never make it to market? How many remarkable businesses never launch simply because those who would have launched them never believed they were possible?

Noble Impact exposes high school students to the startup community. But that’s not all. Students also explore key components of the startup community and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. The most important thing that Noble Impact has done for students at eStem is that the program has exposed them to real world environments and relationships.

Tim Freeman of Hark TV chats with Noble Impact students
Tim Freeman of Hark TV chats with Noble Impact students

What would happen if entrepreneurism were just a “normal” career option in the minds of young startup leaders?

To change students’ mindsets, they have to be exposed to the idea in the early stages of their development.

Entrepreneurship education at the K-12 level is not only important, it’s critical. We live in a world of constant change and we can’t wait to introduce students to real world education until they leave high school.

— Chad Williamson, Noble Impact facilitator at eStem

If students are not exposed to the “real world” until they leave high school, they are at a disadvantage. Today, though, the barrier for entry in entrepreneurism is lower than it has ever been. Due to rapid technological advancements, if a student isn’t turning his/her interests into marketable skills, he/she may already be behind.

High school students are learning to code like their parents learned a second language. Many of these budding developers are launching apps and web platforms to solve real-life problems that impact their daily lives.

The students who are taught to assess risk are able to craft a business model and position and launch their solution as a product in the market place. As a result, they set themselves up for success in the workplace.

Why Is Early Entrepreneurial Education Important?

Lou McAlister, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Venture Center
Lou McAlister, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Venture Center
Chad Williamson, lead Noble Impact facilitator at eStem, also points out that “An understanding of the startup ecosystem is valuable to all students because it’s deeply rooted in risk-taking and high-level communication.”

Life involves risk. Those who have the greatest skills in mitigating and minimizing risk advance in all areas of life. Teaching students to analyze and navigate risk in a real world setting allows them to make smaller mistakes with moderated consequences.

This opportunity helps to develop greater emotional intelligence, an important component of a successful entrepreneur. Investors want to know that the entrepreneur has an investable idea, but they also want to know that the entrepreneur is an investable person, says Lou McAlister, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Venture Center.

When people learn that entrepreneurism is a career option and they develop the emotional fortitude to process and minimize risk, they are positioned to move into the startup community with a strong foundation. They come to the market as an investable person. The energy of their efforts can be focused on producing the best, most investable business idea.

Why a Strong Startup Community?

One of the key components to a strong entrepreneurial community is diversity. In a thriving community, all elements are welcomed. Diversity is celebrated.

Why is diversity important?

I’m all about the boats rising together, the importance of diversity, and being fiercely conscious of inclusivity … more people will want to be part of the game. Strong entrepreneurial ecosystems drive economic growth, educational outcomes and relationships.

— Chad Williamson, Noble Impact facilitator at eStem

The greatest result of a strong entrepreneurial community is an expansion of the “pie.” The more ideas that are fostered, the larger the economic pie grows.

Entrepreneurism gives each member of the community an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the larger economic pie, and it provides an opportunity for other community members to experience the economic benefit of that expansion.

What is the Bottom Line?

Educating students early about entrepreneurism gives them options. Options bring hope. Exposure to real life communities, growth and innovation enables students to be stronger people with a high emotional intelligence. It prepares them to compete in the marketplace—whether they launch their own business or contribute to the success of someone else’s.

When students’ mindsets are success-oriented, we all win.

This post originally appeared in Arkansas Money & Politics, where Steve Rice is an avid contributor.

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