Identifying growth strategies that work for our entrepreneurship programming at Johnson County Community College has been a hallmark of the faculty team for many years. We have always believed that our innovation in the development of courses, certificates and programs is a prerequisite for driving the innovation of our students. As a result of today's economic and political climate, we recognize that the student profile coming to our community colleges and to our entrepreneurship courses and programs is changing. As our student profile evolves, so must our course, certificate and program offerings evolve to meet their needs.
Let's look at this evolving entrepreneurship student profile. As a faculty team, we asked ourselves "Who are today's entrepreneurship students? Are the student profiles changing and, if so, how? What components of our product offerings appeal to this student profile?” One of the first observations is that a single student can fit into multiple student profiles. We are certain you will find this to be true on your campuses as well. In no particular order, here are our top ten student profiles today:
1. Just out of high school – the aspiring entrepreneur.This student group is primarily attracted to our Associate of Applied Science Entrepreneurship degree program (64 credit hours). Some of these students have participated in entrepreneurship programming during their high school years. Others simply have a mindset driving them to "make” a job, not "take” a job. For some, their motivations have been molded by distrust or disappointment in large corporations. Others seem to always have understood that they will "be their own boss.”
2. Dual enrollees – students who are enrolled in high school and college concurrently or enrolled in multiple colleges concurrently. This is a growing category of our student population. For those still completing high school coursework, they are taking advantage of the "extra” time in their senior year (perhaps motivated by their parents!). In greater numbers, however, we are serving students who are creating the collection of coursework they feel they need from multiple institutions in the area. Those who have an "intent to graduate” plan to simply transfer credits to the institution from which they plan to graduate. Others are more interested in acquiring knowledge in areas they find relevant to their needs and goals and amassing the credits that result from their choices. For them, seeking knowledge is more important than seeking a degree or certificate.
3. Completers of associate's, bachelor's and/or graduate degrees but not finding acceptable employment opportunities – they have now decided they need to "make” a job, not "take” a job.Recent Kauffman Foundation research indicates that today 70 percent of college seniors want to start their own businesses. For some of these students, entrepreneurship has been introduced to them along their academic journey as a "career choice.” For others, the current economy has made them realize that entrepreneurship may be a "career imperative.” This student group is attracted to two of our certificate offerings: the Entrepreneurship Vocational Certificate program (30 credit hours) and the Business Plan Certificate (7 credit hours). Students attracted to the Entrepreneurship Vocational Certificate generally have non-business related degrees; this certificate contains both business and entrepreneurship courses but does not contain any general education courses. Students attracted to the Business Plan Certificate generally have business coursework in their academic background but none specifically related to entrepreneurship.
4. Employed in the corporate world in a position described as "intrapreneurial” but not finding acceptable recognition or appreciation for their skills and talents.These students seem to possess an entrepreneurial mindset and, as a result of their "intrapreneurship,” now have increased experience, and often, better financial standing to launch their own business venture. This student group seems to be attracted to the Business Plan Certificate or merely select an Entrepreneurship course or courses that address their perceived need.
5. Employed in the corporate world but not finding self-gratification.While employed, this student group is dissatisfied and seeking entrepreneurship curriculum to identify if self-employment is the more correct career direction for them. The majority of these students have family and financial commitments. Some have previous academic credentials beyond high school while others do not. Their focus is on finding a "reinvention” route for the balance of their working years. For some, the reinvention answer is entrepreneurship; for others, redefining their role within a corporate structure is more appropriate. As the student group profiled above, this group seems to be attracted to the Business Plan Certificate or merely selecting an Entrepreneurship course or courses that address their perceived need.
6. Displaced workers and/or soon-to-be displaced workers looking to "re-invent” themselves.Some of these persons are unemployed while others are employed but consider themselves under-employed. These students have often spent significant years in the employment of others and have generally never considered entrepreneurship as a career direction. If this student's mindset about entrepreneurship and their career "re-invention” is a positive one, they bring great experience and value to the classroom. Assuming the student has allowed appropriate time to study and develop their "re-invention” this student audience can be highly successful. We market the Business Plan Certificate (7 credit hours) to this specific audience. Some students in this category also take the Franchising course. Additionally, we are researching the potential of serving this audience with coursework that will lead them to "re-inventing” themselves as independent contractors for direct sales companies.
7. Retired persons seeking to un-retire (often referred to as the "multiple retiree”). Some of these persons took "early” retirement packages and some retired at what seemed to be the appropriate time but, common to all, they now wish to un-retire. For some, they have become bored in retirement. For others, their financial status has plummeted or has not held up to their expectations. Members of this group are commonly early Baby Boomers. They are generally not interested in "taking” another job as their next life chapter, but rather to re-invent themselves through entrepreneurship or "boomerpreneurship.” As the group above, the Business Plan Certificate (7 credit hours) is interesting to them as well as other Entrepreneurship specialty courses (i.e. Franchising).
8. Family members living in a household operating a family business and/or students wishing to start, grow or sustain a family business. While following in a parentor other relative's footsteps has not been particularly popular among previous student audiences, we are finding an increased interest among family members in growing and sustaining existing family businesses. Younger students who are family members and even working within the family business are more interested than in previous years in expanding their role and contribution to these existing family businesses. Students of all ages who have not personally experienced a family business are more likely to think of their entrepreneurial business idea as a means of livelihood for not just themselves but for future generations of family members as well. Younger students who are members of a household operating a family business are gravitating to our AAS Entrepreneurship degree program. Older students who are members of a household operating a family business are interested in the Family Business course and other specialty courses that they have identified as a subject area from which they can make a difference for that family business.
9. Students who have mastered a skill or are studying to master that skill but have no business acumen.As at many community colleges, students are motivated to pursue academic accomplishments based on their passion for a specific skill. Since 2005, JCCC's Entrepreneurship program has demonstrated its ability to weave entrepreneurship throughout the institution via the program-specific entrepreneurship certificates. Developed in partnership with department chair colleagues across campus, these certificates provide an additional graduation option for students in skill-based programs who wish to deliver that skill in an entrepreneurial business venture.
10. Returning Veterans who are in need of "re-inventing” themselves after their military service is complete.These students are most often coming to our entrepreneurship courses via another career programs on campus, i.e. automotive, hospitality, interior design, etc. Their interest is first in the skill program. As their interest and skills grow, the reality of how they are going to apply that skill in the workplace becomes of interest to this student. At that time, this student profile may decide to pursue graduation in one of the program-specific entrepreneurship certificates or to add the 7-credit hour Business Plan Certificate to their academic studies.
At JCCC, we feel that entrepreneurship education is not just an educational luxury or "extra.” We feel it is mandatory for our community and America's future growth and prosperity. Therefore, we must always review and analyze the student profiles/populations that are participating in our entrepreneurship education initiatives with the intent of evolving our content to their needs.
As I am occasionally asked if our efforts in entrepreneurship education at JCCC have yielded positive results, I will close by sharing a current statistic: Student credit hour enrollment in Entrepreneurship at JCCC as reported for Academic Year 2009-2010 vs. Academic Year 2005-2006 represented an increase of +53.9 percent over the five-year reporting period. During the same reporting time period, the college total represented an increase of +15.6 percent.