Entrepreneurial activity on college campuses hasn't been limited to extracurricular organizations -- it is enjoying extraordinary popularity in the classroom as well. There are hundreds of schools offering seminars on the subject, and 250 of them offer at least one regularly scheduled entrepreneurship course -- a 56% increase from the 160 schools that featured such a curriculum in 1980. It is clear that the trend is toward full slates of courses, if not degree-granting programs.
Students, however, complain that there are still too few courses, open to too few students. The two small-business management classes that pass as entrepreneurship offerings on the University of Texas campus, for example, have space for about 250 students in each class, and every semester there are 150 on the waiting list, says Jim Nolen, lecturer and adviser for the school's entrepreneurship club, the University Entrepreneurial Association. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, "you can't even get in the classes unless you're in the business school," complains senior Dave Geras.
Graduate students are equally disgruntled. "Believe it or not, our only entrepreneurship course [this past semester was] held at 9 o'clock on Saturday mornings," says University of Chicago MBA candidate Doug Trott, "and even in that ridiculous time slot, [it was] oversubscribed." He is of the opinion that his school's faculty members are attempting to shove the topic into a corner until they can become more comfortable with it. "Until Chicago develops a perfect economic model of entrepreneurship, our faculty won't really recognize that the phenomenon exists," says Trott, whose field is financial services and whose entrepreneurial activities consist of doing consulting work on the side. "Honest -- there are all these guys running around trying to define exactly what an entrepreneur is!"
"Because they have goals," explains Wichita State University professor Fran Jabara, director and founder of the school's Center for Entrepreneurship, "these students are less patient with academics. They're pragmatic, meat-and-potatoes people, and they want more than they're getting from traditional business school programs." They want to get on with the business of being in business, he says -- and that is why students aren't wasting time "banging on doors," clamoring for improved curriculum and vowing to organize entrepreneurial organizations to fill the gap. "That's not the entrepreneur's way of doing things," Jabara says, with a sly grin. If forming an entrepreneurship club meets their needs, as thousands apparently think it does, "they just go ahead and do it, period."