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Today’s weak job market leaves many college graduates unemployed and on the hunt. In today’s world, a degree does not guarantee a desk in the office, and classroom experience does not equal real work experience. As a result, college students expect university programs to help them hit the ground running straight out of college, including programs that provide students with real world startup experience before graduation.

There are very few around the country, but some of the most innovative programs are stepping outside the lecture hall to give students a taste of real business experience. Incubator and “applied learning” programs implement entrepreneurial courses into business programs to help student entrepreneurs learn what it takes to start a successful business.

The Benefits of Building Businesses in Dorm Rooms

Michael Dell started Dell in his college dorm room at the University of Texas. Facebook, Zappos, and Reddit also originated in the hallowed halls of higher education.

There is an advantage to starting a business at a young age; it provides more opportunities to fail and learn. Entrepreneurship is all about experimenting and, in your 20s, the inevitable failures that accompany new business ventures are less painful. The young entrepreneur also has the benefit of fewer financial responsibilities. Having a family to provide for makes it much more difficult to afford any sort of monetary failure later in life.

Like trying to become a professional athlete, it takes practice and dedication to be successful as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs need as much practice in the startup stage as possible because the more they do it, the easier it gets — and the more likely their chances are for eventual success.

Nurturing Successful Students to Be Future CEOs

The obvious benefits of honing entrepreneurial skills at a young age make incubator programs and applied learning at universities even more necessary.

But the reality is that some of the world’s leading billionaire entrepreneurs are also college dropouts. Dell dropped out of the University of Texas once his company was up and running. Mark Zuckerberg also left school after creating Facebook. Higher education simply did not cut it for them, and some students may feel that a normal business program does not meet their needs for future success. Incubator programs help students develop the skills they need to start a business and may encourage them to stay in school even while running their first company.

Why Incubator Programs Matter

Entrepreneurs don’t want to learn the theory or hypotheticals that traditional business schools may provide. They want practical education they can apply right away to their own startups. They want material that is current, and they want it taught by people who have lived it (that means professors who are current or former entrepreneurs).

Providing entrepreneurial courses and hands-on learning as part of university business programs makes better use of students’ time and money and will help them get further in their own business. Accelerated Ventures at Baylor University, for instance, has a two-semester course that allows students to create an actual business while raising real funds, launching products, and generating sales. Other universities allow students to present their business plan to a panel of judges in a sort of business competition in the hopes of winning funding.

Universities looking to create their own incubator entrepreneurship programs as part of their business schools can employ programs such as Literati Institute, which can help develop comprehensive curriculums, train professors, and guide students as they develop potential businesses in a cost effective and simple manner.

Colleges that offer incubator programs to young entrepreneurs increase their appeal to students while providing an education that increases students’ opportunities to succeed. Through the guidance of current or former entrepreneurs as professors and hands-on experience, students have a better chance for entrepreneurial success in the real world after graduation.

This article is published on January 29, 2013 on Yahoo and Peter Nguyen thoughts on Building Boardrooms in Dorm Rooms.