Enrollment in Entrepreneurship Program Up 40 Percent
KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 1, 2019) — What makes someone an entrepreneur? Is it a unique idea, a desire to innovate, or perhaps a drive to build something from scratch?
For the Michael J. Coles College of Business, the answer is all three. The College has always encouraged students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of whether they plan to run a business. And with a recent enrollment spike in entrepreneurship majors, student interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high.
Enrollment in the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree program in entrepreneurship reached 257 students in Fall 2019, up from 181 in the spring, representing a nearly 42 percent increase. The number also far exceeds enrollment projections made when the program launched in Fall 2017.
“We predicted we’d have 96 students by our third year,” says Dr. Robin Cheramie, interim dean of the Coles College and the former director of the Michael A. Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship, and Hospitality. “Our numbers are significantly higher than what we anticipated.”
Cheramie says the program’s success is a testament to its quality and the growing student desire to learn the skills needed to start and grow a business.
“We developed this major because we saw a critical need in the state for students with a well-rounded education in entrepreneurial activities,” she says. “This first-of-its-kind degree program gives students the capability and the confidence to launch their own business or to create value within an existing organization. It is all about building students’ entrepreneurial mindset.”
Students taking classes in the program – even those not majoring in entrepreneurship – develop skills that are applicable across disciplines. Engineering student Joe Dorsey says that taking ENTR 4001 has been an “enlightening” experience.
“I gained greater insights about business that you just don’t get in an engineering course,” he says. “I also gained a new perspective on critical thinking and problem solving. Learning to spot opportunities and developing a roadmap to bring solutions to market has honestly changed my life. No longer will I look for others to provide an opportunity to solve today's technical problems because now I can explore what it takes to solve them myself.”
Dorsey also leverages the affiliated Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship Center to help refine his business ideas, find networking opportunities, work with consultants, and build connections to the business and investment community.
A critical component of the entrepreneurship program’s success is the importance it places on corporate entrepreneurship, which is the idea that corporations and other large businesses want new hires to have the skills and drive of an entrepreneur.
“Corporations are looking for entrepreneurial people,” says entrepreneurship professor Greg Quinet, who is one of the degree program’s original architects. “They want people who are creative and can knock down barriers.”
Entrepreneurship majors learn valuable problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to allocate resources and execute plans, all of which can help them successfully manage “businesses within businesses,” Quinet adds.
Another strength of the program is that each faculty member has real-world entrepreneurial experience. Quinet co-founded four separate technology companies and has led multiple companies through the acquisitions process to publicly-traded companies.
“All of our faculty have industry/entrepreneurial backgrounds,” he says, “and that’s a really big deal in the entrepreneurial space. It’s a good thing when students are learning from people who have actually done it.”
In addition to teaching in the degree program, Quinet recently became the Shore Entrepreneurship Center’s new Executive Director. The EC is affiliated with the degree program but operates independently. It currently partners with multiple student-run businesses, offering mentorship, development assistance, and providing help meeting funding needs. Businesses partnering with the EC include Click-A-Shift and Esgro.
As Executive Director, Quinet’s goals are to find new sources for venture capital, including exploring the creation of a KSU-focused venture capital fund, and to encourage students outside the Coles College to pursue entrepreneurship. He recently worked with several engineering programs to allow their students – such as Dorsey – to take entrepreneurship classes as technical electives.
Quinet believes this kind of interdisciplinary focus is the key to the future growth of the EC and the entrepreneurship degree program.
“If I had to say that any one thing has driven our growth,” he says, “it is a focus on our students and faculty across disciplines.”