UH Entrepreneurship program ranked No. 3 in the nation
Princeton Review’s most recent rankings land the University of Houston’s entrepreneurial program third in the nation.
The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at UH was established in 1991 with the financial support of Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff, founder of Star Furniture and pillars of the Houston business community. Since then, the program has grown into one of the most consistently top ranked entrepreneurial programs in the country.
The application process is sophisticated and students are expected to write essays, create a video and go through multiple interviews, Associate Director for the WCE Ken Jones said.
“We want the prospective students to show us their creativity and how they work under pressure,” Jones said.
While the process to gain admission into the program is rigorous, the admissions committee is looking for more than just the grades.
“We’re looking for students with drive and initiative,” Jones said. “It’s not all about good grades, although that certainly ties in. Having passion is what we’re really looking for.”
The admissions committee wants to see students with business instincts and even some entrepreneurial efforts of their own, according to Jones.
Once students are admitted, they’re equipped with some of the best resources the Houston community has to offer, according to Clinical Assistant Professor for the WCE Carlos Ortega.
“We try to give our students the tools they’ll need to be successful once they’re in the business world,” said Jones. “They have mentors from the community who spend hours with them.”
By the end of the semester, students in the program will have made hundreds of connections and gained invaluable experience.
“It’s a pretty vigorous program which requires a lot of outside work and involvement,” said Ortega. “But it prepares the students for the obstacles they’ll eventually face.”
Ortega also credits the program’s success to its faculty.
“I don’t know another group of people who are as committed to the success of their students as the faculty here,” Ortega said. “It’s a genuine willingness to see the students succeed and that’s essential.”
The staff aims to prepare its students to head a variety of businesses as well.
“Everything from accounting, to business law, to marketing and sales, to non-profits and tech startups – an entrepreneur does all of these things,” Ortega said.
According to Ortega, the most crucial element to the program’s rise in national ranks is the support of Houston entrepreneurs.
“I think what makes this program successful starts with strong backing from the community,” Ortega said. “We have a strong commitment from mentors and lots of people willing to give their time to our students.”
Houston has given the students in the program a unique advantage. In an article published by Entrepreneur, Houston is listed as one of the best cities for startups due to tax breaks and a thriving import and export market.
“Houston isn’t just a great city for big business,” said Ortega. “It’s also one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the United States.”
Forbes ranked Houston as the tenth most entrepreneurial city in the United States with nearly 10 businesses for every 100 people and a favorable cost of living index at 94.2 percent.
Ortega also attributes their students’ success to the diversity of Houston as it prepares students to do well in any environment as graduates.
“The diversity in Houston is a huge benefit, learning to work with all sorts of people,” Ortega said. “These students can take what they learn here, apply it anywhere else in the world and be successful.”