7 Greatest Universities for Entrepreneurs and Tech Founders of All-Time

Stanford University

When looking for a top–rated school that also turns out plenty of top–notch entrepreneurs, one doesn't have to look any further than Stanford, and its track record of high–quality thinkers who set out to change the world. The creators of Google, Yahoo!, and Snapchat all went there – and they all dropped out. That doesn't mean Stanford isn't a great place to get an education, just that they didn't need any more schooling once their ideas began to soar. They made their own paths in life at that point, but Stanford helped them get their start. The education and opportunities they received there were catalysts toward following their dreams.

Who they met during their college years also played a role in how much success they saw, since many startups have more than one founder. People often form strong bonds with others they meet during their college years, and Stanford's ability to teach others to work together provides even more of an opportunity for people with big ideas and grand dreams to find others who share their interest in making a difference.

Because of the ways the school encourages this in its students, Stanford is an excellent choice for people who want to find others to work with as they develop their ideas for the future.

Harvard University

Of course, Stanford doesn't have a monopoly on entrepreneurs. Many other schools have seen their students create successful startups. Harvard, for example, gave rise to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. While Zuckerberg isn't the only founder to come from Harvard, he is one of the most notable when it comes to name recognition and use of his product or service. Part of the reason there have been so many startups created by Harvard students is that the school accepts only the best and the brightest. Students attending the school may already be intellectually ahead of their peers.

That's not the only part of the equation, though. Harvard, like Stanford and other prestigious schools, provides plenty of opportunity for students to work together, and encourages the creativity and free–thinking of those same students. The lack of restrictive teaching and the ways in which expanding on ideas is encouraged goes a long way toward ensuring that Harvard students feel free to consider their ideas and goals as actually attainable. That grows their desire to explore and provides them with the tools and opportunities to do so.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

With all the technology available to them, it makes perfect sense that the students of MIT Labs would have the opportunity to do more with their schooling and their lives. It's not just about the physical technology, though. It's also about the ways in which MIT goes about encouraging students to get involved in the dreams they have, and see if they can make them into reality. Many people have great ideas, but they're too afraid to move those ideas from thoughts to actions. At MIT, large efforts are made to get students moving toward action.

One of the ways the school helps encourage startups is through its $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, which is run by students for students.   To date, it has effected the creation of more than 2,500 jobs and 130 companies. Not only is that impressive for the school and the people who have created the companies, but it also shows other students that following their dreams is possible and that they can succeed in their goals. That understanding is one of the main reasons students there are willing to do what it takes to be more successful and are persistent in following their dreams.

Cornell University

Like the other schools that seem to bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in their students, Cornell has a curriculum and an atmosphere designed to encourage startups. Students work together in many of their classes, and they focus on larger and more significant ideas, as opposed to rote memorization of facts and figures. By doing this, they allow themselves to expand on ideas they have, and help others do the same.
The teamwork and encouragement fostered by this approach can make the difference between pursuing dreams and choosing to stay with the crowd and not attempt to branch out to something more. 

Cornell also has a large “Entrepreneur Network” that was founded in 2001. Hundreds of events have been organized by the Network, with more planned in the future. These events are open to students, staff, alumni, parents, and friends. By including so many people, Cornell gives their students the opportunity to get involved in the dreams and ideas of large numbers of people. That can lead to people partnering to create startups or improve on something that already exists, and can help others get jobs at these new companies. The close–knit, family atmosphere of these get–together contributes to the value they offer.

University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

One of the reasons that UC Berkeley is so popular with students who have an entrepreneurial mindset is that the school offers three distinct "incubators" for startups. The most popular of the three options is SkyDeck, which is designed to help the business and engineering schools at the university work with the research office. By combining different schools of thought and different areas of study, there is a higher chance that great ideas will not only be created, but that they will also be carried out. Coming up with a new business is wonderful, but only if the idea is taken to fruition.

At UC Berkeley, the idea of taking those ideas to fruition is one that is carefully considered and deeply encouraged. That keeps students engaged and shows them that the university they attend believes in the value of the education they're getting and the ideas they have when it comes to improving the world. Startups are about innovation, belief, and value, all of which are needed if students of any university are going to see their ideas come to life. Working with an educational institution that encourages individuality and creativity is among the best ways to get an idea off the ground.

California Institute of Technology (CalTech)

Caltech is another school that can boast large numbers of highly successful alumni. Despite that fact that it has a student body of fewer than 2,300, it has 32 Nobel laureates among its faculty and alumni numbers. That's worth noting, because the school is doing something right to produce high–quality, focused, and driven individuals at that level. Much of the success of Caltech comes from the smaller size of the student body at its campus in Pasadena. With small class sizes, students interact more with one another and their instructors.

They are also offered more opportunities to work together on projects.  Often, working on a project together gets people thinking, and can help them become more comfortable talking about their ideas, goals, and dreams with others. Having the freedom to express this information is among the best ways to help a student move forward in life and pursue the things that matter most. Those pursuits are generally related to education, but they may also move toward entrepreneurship and startups as students learn more about their world and the ways in which that world can be enriched by the ideas those students have for the future.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

It shouldn't be a surprise that UCLA made the list, or that three of the top schools for startups and entrepreneurship are found in California. With Silicon Valley and the tech culture that permeates so much of the state, California is a natural destination for people with big dreams when they want to start something important. UCLA is also focused on helping those dreams come to pass, hosting events like the LA Hacks hackathon for more than 4,000 developers each year. Technology is synonymous with California, and the educational institutions there are aware of it and capitalize on it.

Universities in California focus more on technical pursuits, because that's what their students want and need. There is more to becoming an entrepreneur and launching a successful startup than just having a computer science or other technology background. The ways in which students at these top schools are encouraged to work together and to pursue what matters to them can make a significant difference in how they interact with their peers and instructors, as well as how seriously they take the creation of their ideas and the pursuit of their dreams.

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