Why Amherst Should Prioritize Entrepreneurship

Contributing Writer Alex Nichols ’26 encourages students to look towards entrepreneurship as a method of making an impact in the world.

If we want to drive change in the world, Amherst should prioritize entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship opens minds and expands opportunities. This practice questions everything and seeks perpetual improvement. Through entrepreneurship, students engage with society and established systems. We’re each tasked to think for ourselves and grow our own ideas. These ideas become personal, and students work toward their own goals. The more individuals think for themselves, the greater freedom a campus has. Above all, entrepreneurs know how hard it is to actually bring about change — mistakes are expected. Imagine a community dedicated to academic discourse and personal responsibility, with the freedom to be wrong. Entrepreneurial societies speak freely and discuss deeply.

If I have not just described Amherst’s ideal campus, then I misunderstand our collective goal. I believe Amherst students chase the knowledge, experience, and ability to impact the world. Our campus has the critical puzzle pieces to generate innovative ideas. Now, equip the Amherst community with the behaviors, tools, and motivation to execute on their ideas, and we’ll enable each Amherst student to spark the change they seek. And I argue entrepreneurship is what we’re missing.

If entrepreneurship could generate this value, why has Amherst hesitated to prioritize it? My experience leads me to believe it’s a category error. The liberal arts mission values process over product, and to some, entrepreneurship threatens this tenet. They worry the practice of building ideas will replace academic pursuit with a utilitarian focus on business and profit.

Let me be clear: Entrepreneurship is an attitude. It is a mindset of perpetual inquiry and action. Like all our studies here, our goal is not a product. It’s the instincts, pattern recognition, and problem-solving we curate along the way — learn by doing. Entrepreneurship is our modern medium of engaging with the world to drive the change we seek.

Why we should learn entrepreneurship at college

We go to college to prepare and build a foundation of habits and behaviors that will serve us when we step into the real world. Yet this world is already built and institutionalized — we walk into preconstructed systems. Entrepreneurship is the mindset that endows us students with the questions, tools, and experiences to engage with these existing  systems. It’s the mindset that positions us to understand a system holistically and imagine ways to create, spark, propel the change we think is needed.

If we seek to impact the world, then entrepreneurship is the mindset that positions us to implement our ideas. So, I aim to introduce more entrepreneurship and innovation into our curriculum and culture at Amherst. Some friends and I took the first step and created i2i, a student-led movement to bring the culture, connections, and resources to students and their ideas. We equip ideas with alumni, advice, and manpower. If you’d like to help us or learn more, see here (or hit me up anytime: [email protected]).

Think big.