Education Community making entrepreneurs

Tiffin is known as The Education Community because of the two universities and other trade and vocational schools located here. But do people starting their own businesses or working in business need a college degree?

There are plenty of examples of business people who succeeded without having completed their higher education degrees. Apple’s Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are three of the more famous success stories of those who dropped out of college. Jobs was once quoted as saying college turns people into “Bozos.” His argument was that colleges do not promote creative thinking. Soft skills are also traits that are needed to succeed in business that are not always taught or at least emphasized in college programs. PayPal founder Peter Thiel funds a scholarship that pays talented students up to $10,000 to drop out of college.

Business is the most popular college major by far. Over 300,000 undergraduate degrees are earned in the U.S. each year. Business degrees are seen as being valuable in the technologically-driven economy.

With the debt some students are accumulating during college, some are asking whether the investment is worth starting a work career in that kind of a financial hole. By far, the top reason for students attending continues to be to get a better job. But as the cost of tuition and student loan debt continue to rise, families and students may wonder whether college is worth it.

The question being asked is whether students receive an acceptable return on investment. The average college graduate earns a salary that is over $30,000 more than an average worker with only a high school diploma. The average rate of return on undergraduate degrees is 14% over the course of a working career. Most families come out ahead on their investment in higher education. As college costs increase, this return has decreased the rate of return compared to the past. These statistics apply to all students, not just business students who typically see a higher return.

The local universities are aware of the rising costs of going to college. “TU continues to be one of the most affordable private colleges in Ohio,” said Dr. Amy Wood, vice president of enrollment management at Tiffin University. “Some of the cost-saving initiatives we have implemented to help keep tuition at an affordable rate include College Credit Plus courses, increased scholarships, and having a reduced tuition rate for students pursing our online degree programs.”

A recent survey by Freedom Financial reports said about 40 percent of Americans believe their college degrees were not worth the cost. Only 22% felt strongly that their four-year degree was worth what they paid for it. Satisfaction was higher for those in engineering and business, lower for those in liberal arts and education.

Entrepreneurs can learn about starting businesses without attending college. The government offers free services for those starting businesses, including the Small Business Basics course offered 10 times a year in Tiffin.

“It (the Small Business Basics course) is a two-hour seminar that answers your questions and takes the confusion out of your efforts to help you avoid costly mistakes and unnecessary steps,” according to Bill Auxter, director of the Small Business Development Center at Terra State Community College in Fremont.

As an educator in the business education field, I of course believe in the value of business education. But as a parent of a college-aged daughter, I also understand the increasing costs of college.