For something that takes eight hours a day, you learn surprisingly little in high school. I'm not talking about general education on useless topics -- no, as a high school student, I learn a ton of that. What I'm thinking of are useful, real-world skills. Specifically, I think that our high schools shouldn't just be pushing us off to college. In my opinion, high schools should be doing something much greater -- creating, raising, and grooming the next generation of entrepreneurs.
For a business-minded high school student, life can be tough. Programs like Future Business Leaders of America, which purport to help students gain real-world business skills, in reality function as a sort of grown-up Boy Scouts. In lieu of learning how to write a business plan, we're taught how to increase synergy with other schools. They've skipped all of the good parts of business to go straight to the useless -- and it gets worse. Competitions, which should be about fostering innovation, instead focus on rote memorization and repetition with little to no exceptions.
This all would be fine if this was some sort of marginalized organization. But it's not -- this is a "shining example" held up by schools as an example of what we should aspire to be like. This is a program born of red-tape and bureaucracy, not creation and inspiration.
When schools do try to help, too often it's in the form of work-study programs. For example, my high school offers help in finding internships at local businesses. Getting an internship with a middle manager, however, just prepares you to become one as well.
What can we do to help? First, encourage students to find a cause they're interested in. For example, I was interested in helping special needs students, so I started Autism Ambassadors, an organization that helps typical students form sustainable friendships with students with special needs.
If your student's cause is already being helped, or they don't want to found something, encourage them to take a leadership position in a club or extracurricular activity. Have them work just 10 minutes a day on advancing the cause.
Want to learn more about student entrepreneurs? Watch my TEDxConejo talk here or reach out! I'd love to talk to you -- my twitter is @kukoff and my email is zak [at] autismambassadors.org.
Follow Zak Kukoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zck