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Entrepreneurship Education Is Hot. Too Many Get It Wrong

Entrepreneurship Education Is Hot. Too Many Get It Wrong
Photograph by Kevin Galvin

In 1985, about 250 college courses taught entrepreneurship, according to a paper published (PDF) this month by the Kauffman Foundation. In 2008, 5,000 such courses were on offer at two- and four-year institutions in the U.S. Today, nearly 400,000 students take college classes on entrepreneurship each year.

Despite that growth, or perhaps because of it, there’s a budding crisis in entrepreneurship education, says Bill Aulet, managing director at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Too many courses take a storytelling approach, in which a successful entrepreneur tells students their secrets of success—“clapping for credit,” Aulet calls it. When the semester ends and students try to launch businesses, they don’t know where to start. Other courses focus on one idea—blue ocean strategy, say, or the lean startup model—to the exclusion of others.