Opportunity Road

Entrepreneurship is the New Path to College Acceptance

We have been saying for a while that top colleges and universities look for risk takers, outside-of-school leaders, builders, EXTRAPRENEURS. Well, in 2024, this same pattern has become THE overarching theme that Admissions looks for—evident as my students continue to gain admittance into their top college choices due, in large part, to their “extrapreneurial” pursuits.

Colleges want to see you innovate before they accept you. They need to be sure that you will be a leader, innovator, and problem solver on campus and beyond. How have you invested in yourself that makes you interesting enough for Admissions to invest in YOU? That remains the question at every top tier Admissions Office across the country.

The way to begin your entrepreneurial adventure is to understand the concept of “leverage”: using a small investment, such as your personal hours, creativity, assertive networking, or seed capital to produce a big result in your life and on your resume.

Let me be clear. What I am talking about has nothing to do with in-school clubs such as student government, the school newspaper, or Model UN. What I am talking about requires you to brainstorm an idea; to ideate! Then leverage your contacts, interested and motivated friends, or community network to build that kernel of a business idea into a reality. You will demonstrate to Admissions that you have identified a problem or niche and have come up with a possible solution. But you didn’t stop there! You reached out to students and professionals who could help you realize that solution, and then you began an organized effort to build your program, product, pursuit, or service! These characteristics of confidence, a love of ideation, being able to improvise and handle challenges, being able to organize an event or student squad of volunteers without your high school administration’s help—these are the characteristics (aside from your intellectual prowess and athletic or artistic talents ) that top colleges seek.

It’s not like expecting this kind of innovation is an unusual request from colleges. Major national programs like XQ SUPER SCHOOLS are rethinking how American high schools should be teaching. High schools in 11 cities are exploring new models of learning, and no surprise—entrepreneurial thinking and training are right at the top of many new curricula, whether the student wants medicine, technology, or research. The high schools of the future will ask students to think like entrepreneurs, designers, and thought leaders by examining problems from a patient’s or client’s or general user’s perspective and subsequently hypothesizing possible solutions.

For those of you with hopes of careers in medicine, engineering, or technology—please think deeply about the messages I’ll be sending you in the coming months. There is a new wave washing over educational expectations and your best fit college will expect YOU to be part of it.

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