Do you have a great idea for a business, but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. Sixty-six percent of millennials dream of starting their own businesses, yet only two percent of millennials are actually fully self-employed in their own businesses.

Clearly, more help is needed for young people who are looking to become entrepreneurs.

Colleges have begun stepping up to the challenge of training young entrepreneurs, and it’s starting to become a booming business.

Between 1985 and 2008, there was a 20-fold increase in college entrepreneurship programs. Every year, there is more and more demand as people decide to dip their toes in the tricky world of entrepreneurship in a (relatively) safe and supportive environment.

Today, you can find a wide range of entrepreneurship programs at most major colleges and universities.

Almost all of them have some kind of start-up accelerator program designed to take students from the idea phase to an actual, developed business plan – or even a full-fledged, profitable business.

Traditionally, college is thought of as a place to get educated for a straight-laced career. It's not necessarily to help you become an entrepreneur. So I decided to find out what colleges are doing differently these days.

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Why Go Into an Entrepreneurship Program?

Most people think that to be a great entrepreneur, you need to just get out there and do it. There are certainly successful entrepreneurs around today who prove that it’s possible. But there are also plenty of people who learn lessons the hard way.

“You hear the examples of the people that either dropped out of high school or dropped out of college or did it very rogue, but the reasons that you hear about that is because it's so rare,” says Sarah Hill, the program manager at Arizona State University’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation program.

Jessica Rawley, the assistant program director at Colorado State University’s Entrepreneurship Institute, agrees. “Yes, you could go out there and you could do it yourself, and a lot of people have been successful in doing that,” she says. “I would wager to say that it probably took them longer. They probably made more mistakes.”

It’s difficult to pin down whether these entrepreneurship programs will give your business a higher chance of success. But every single program has examples of students who are still running successful businesses long past graduation. Even if you aren’t successful, you’ll still gain a valuable skill set that will serve you in just about every area of life.

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What If People Don’t Have Business Backgrounds?

For most people, learning entrepreneurship skills can be a real challenge, especially if they have little or no business training or background. That doesn’t mean that these people don’t have great ideas.

Sometimes, the best ideas come from people who don't know anything about business at all!

“It’s a lot harder for those people that don’t have a business background,” Rawley says.

“They have to do a lot more reading and getting up to speed. But they’re doing it all within the context of their own business, and I think that makes it a lot easier. You’re not doing this for a class. You’re doing this as a business you want to run. Definitely, you can just jump in. I think that’s sort of the lesson of entrepreneurship.”

How Do Entrepreneurship Programs Work?

Most colleges and universities offer several programs, but the backbone of most of them is some sort of start-up accelerator, such as CSU’s Venture Accelerator Program or ASU’s “Startup Accelerator.”

There are some colleges out there that are upping their game with entrepreneurship programs – not just providing the average degree.These entrepreneurship programs are typically broken up into phases over two or more semesters, and focus on getting students to work hands-on on a different aspect of business development.

For example, in CSU’s Venture Accelerator Program, students initially work with two general business mentors from the community to hone down their idea. Then students work with new mentors who have specific expertise in the areas they’ll need, such as manufacturing, e-commerce, or packaging.

CSU even helps place students in community programs designed to take people further as they launch their business.

“Are you going to be successful just because you come to this program? No. Are you potentially going to be more successful quicker because you do a program like this? That would be the idea,” says Rawley. Moreover, you can have a great idea, but your business could still fail for any number of reasons.

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How You Can Take Advantage of University Entrepreneurship Programs

For most entrepreneurship programs, you need a small team of people to start the business with you. At least one team member must be a student.

That means that if you yourself aren’t a student, you can still take advantage of these programs as long as you’re able to find a student to work with.

You might be wondering what the cost of all of this great support is. The answer? Most colleges and universities charge students very little, or even nothing.

Currently, CSU’s Venture Accelerator program costs $75 per person per semester. Arizona State University, which offers a wide range of programs, provides services completely free. New York University also provides services to students at no cost to them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have the next big business idea to go think up …

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