Garrett Gerstenberger, a University of California—Santa Barbara 2011 grad whose T-shirt screen printing business grossed $160,000 his senior year, had to drop his double major and approaches his classes as "a game," he says; he figures out how little he needed to do.
All of the students think empire-building is worth the lower grades. Says Rose, whose business tripled during her senior year: "I won't need to move back in with my parents, and I will be self-sufficient." And if anything were to happen to her business, she says, she would be more attractive to prospective employers for having tried it: "People always want to hire someone who can handle running their own company."
If you're thinking of becoming the big (business)man or woman on campus, student entrepreneurs caution that your social life as well as your grades will likely take a hit. How to balance student and academic life with work? Vitiello made a daily to-do list and prioritized three to five things that he had to get done, while Rose broke projects into bite-size pieces and took "baby steps" every day.
Grace put work and academic obligations on a calendar so she could see what she'd have to focus on when and make plans. "Start school projects when they're assigned and don't wait until the last minute," she suggests.
For the sake of efficiency as well as your grades, if you're a business major, use your company for every project and class you possibly can, students advise. Not a business major? Take business classes as electives and follow the same advice. No class, however, can guarantee a hot business idea. For that, Gerstenberger recommends throwing yourself into student life. "You'll have a better idea of how you can profit," he says.
Rose's primary advice: Do it now. "There will probably never be time in your life when you will have less responsibilities," she says. Your enterprise might not be the next Dell, another dorm room start-up, but with the right idea and proper implementation, it could be a life-changing and debt-reducing experience.
Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.