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27 MAY 2022
Do you dream of starting your own company and being your own boss? Or maybe you have the next big idea and can't wait to get it off the ground? Startup founders come from all types of educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Some begin in their garage, while others go to college and learn about business management and entrepreneurship before they step out on their own. While you can certainly become a successful startup founder without a degree, there are many advantages (even beyond the classroom) to going to a top university before beginning your startup/entrepreneurial journey.
Depending on the type of business you hope to start, you will need specific skills before you begin. You will also be a more successful business owner if you understand business concepts and how to run a successful business. A degree from a top university will help prepare you for the ups and downs of owning a business and how to handle the pressures of owning your own business.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or looking to start your own company, here are the best schools for funded founders based on the seed and early-stage funding numbers of Crunchbase founder profiles. Each of the founders tallied in the numbers below raised $500,000 or more since the beginning of 2021.
Stanford University consistently ranks as one of the best schools for budding entrepreneurs. Since last year at least 338 alumni from their undergraduate programs have raised $500,000 or more in seed or early-stage funding.
Entrepreneurs have flocked to Stanford since the 1930s. Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco Systems all originated at Stanford. Stanford entrepreneurs have founded companies that generate revenues of $2.7 trillion annually. More than 50% of entrepreneurs choose Stanford because of its thriving entrepreneurial environment.
Three of the top ecosystems contributing to their unique culture include Centers:
Big Questions Ep. 29: Stanford
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MIT is another school that consistently tops the list of best schools for entrepreneurs. MIT's Center for MIT Entrepreneurship offers MIT entrepreneurs courses, programs, and advisory services for entrepreneurial success. Students get practical experience, integrated learning, and customized courses tailored to their individual goals and objectives.
Big Questions Ep. 3: MIT
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Harvard University tops many lists, so it's not surprising that they're in the top three schools for startup founders. In addition to offering many entrepreneurial courses with world-class instructors, Harvard's location is a huge advantage, especially when it comes to producing people at the top of well-funded startups. Harvard's prestige and location are two reasons venture capitalists flock to Harvard to find the next great entrepreneur.
Big Questions Ep. 2: Harvard
Find out your chances of getting accepted into Harvard with our free college admissions calculator!
The schools that rank at the top of the list do not vary significantly from year to year. Schools like Stanford, MIT, and Harvard consistently rank as the top schools for entrepreneurs based on startup funding. UC Berkeley is the only public university in the top ten schools for startup founders. The University of Texas, Austin moved higher on the list this year, likely because of the influx of tech startups popping up in the area.
Elite universities offer numerous opportunities for students hoping to start businesses. Here are just a few reasons these schools are perfect for future startup founders.
Colleges like Stanford offer countless internships, especially to students hoping to break into the tech industry. Elite colleges have resources and connections to some of the biggest names in all industries, and they can help set you up with a year-round or summer internship.
Internships are one of the best ways to learn about business and what it takes to start a company. Established companies don't work the same as startups, so interning at a startup company gives you first-hand experience in learning about the stages of a business. As an intern, you'll learn about all the roles and responsibilities of a startup, so when you start your own business, you'll be more prepared, knowledgeable, and ready to help in any business area.
It's all about the connections. Many of your professors (and even fellow students) probably have experience starting a business. Don't be afraid to let them know you'd like to learn about how they started their business. Most professors would love to tell you how they got started and the hurdles they faced along the way. Consider asking your entrepreneurship professors about their experiences or if they know someone who might be a helpful mentor for you. By getting out of your comfort zone, you show successful entrepreneurs you're driven and eager to learn. These connections also might be your ticket to funding!
While smaller schools may offer just a few entrepreneurship classes, top universities offer multiple classes directly related to starting a business. Classes focus on tracing finances, evaluating markets, business management, and much more! These fundamental skills will go a long way as you begin your journey as an entrepreneur.
Crimson student, Sejal, is an incoming freshman at MIT. She co-founded a nonprofit in 2020 called Leap2College. Using a peer-to-peer mentorship model, Leap2College provides a free platform to help high school students navigate the challenging process of college admissions. Their service includes an invaluable and comprehensive list of college resources and an interview series that aims to bring perspectives and insight from current college students and recent college graduates.
Angela is a Crimson student who started a nonprofit organization called the Teen-Aged Youth Organization, which pairs young people with older adults in retirement homes to provide enriching socialization activities and combat the isolation imposed by the pandemic.
Koki is a Crimson student who is still in high school. At 17, he's already accomplished more than most. He co-founded Lallic Partners, an American investment management firm committed to delivering clients' reliable and effective financial services. His genuine interest in finance and investing has helped him build an impressive extracurricular and leadership profile that will help strengthen his university applications.
A degree from a top school doesn't mean you're guaranteed funding, but it does make a difference. Statistically speaking, a degree from a top university correlates with your likelihood of raising funds for your startup. While schools like Harvard and Stanford are notoriously hard to get into, these schools also produce the most funded founders, so your chances of becoming a funded entrepreneur are significantly higher if you attend these schools.
Are you a budding entrepreneur interested in applying to an Ivy League school? Crimson Education's admissions strategists can help you choose classes and extracurriculars that pair well with starting your own business. They can answer any questions you have about top universities in the US and guide you through the application process. Schedule a free consultation today.
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