Student Documentary Delves into Relationship between Higher Education and Business

By: Brett Slaughenhaupt – Staff Writer

Why do you want to go to college? Is a college degree worth its asking price in today’s economy? Does having a degree make a difference to the world of business and entrepreneurship?

These questions and more are investigated in “The Modern Entrepreneur: The Divided Path of Higher Education,” a short 18 minute documentary written, directed, and edited by a group of 11 UD students. Throughout the Spring semester, as an independent study, they embarked on this journey of investigating one of the most pressing issues for young Americans.

In order to reach this objective, three entrepreneurs in the Dayton area Andrew White of Indigo Life, Nick Bowman of Warped Wing Brewery, and Juanita Darden-Jones of 3rd Perk Coffee and Wine were interviewed and “[shared] their experiences and outlook on how they got to where they are today.” Over the course of the documentary, they give us a look into what it has been like so far to run their respective businesses and how college played into that success. At the beginning of the documentary, students from Chaminade Julienne High School provide the viewpoint of prospective college students.

When asked why they want to go to college, the student’s answers ranged from being “the right path for me” to wanting to be able to have a career. These answers perfectly encapsulated the notion that higher education is a non-mandatory but societally normative decision.Allyssa Suter, a senior media production major and one of the filmmakers, said that in interviewing the students, “almost all of the students … knew what field that they wanted to pursue, and what they wanted to accomplish in college. It also allowed us to see that the choice to attend college was automatic for them.”

The documentary goes on to explain this rise in expectation by showing the increase of college students from around 4 million in 1965 to present day of about 15 million. The well-documented catch is the actual accessibility of higher education. As the demand rises, so does the price of attendance, evidenced by a “dramatic inflation rate.” And therein lies the need for the type of reflection this documentary provides.

Of the three entrepreneurs showcased, two received college degrees. They each provided their own reasons for their choices and how it impacted their business ventures later on in life. For Andrew White, not attending college gave him the opportunity to start his business right away. He was not delayed in this opportunity because of his studies. Nick Bowman and Juanita Darden-Jones expressed the sentimental value their degree holds by the education and life lessons it taught them along the way.

Keeping an unbiased view on this topic, “The Modern Entrepreneur” leaves it up to the audience to take away their own messages. Is it better to learn within the classroom or experientially? We are shown success stories from both sides of that question. It is obvious the question of whether or not attending college is good or bad is not a universal truth.

Suter believes this documentary is especially important because it “showcases that there are other options besides directly going to college right out of high school.” In a time when that very ideal is considered common sense, “it allows for our viewers to take a new perspective on higher education. Our documentary isn’t pro- or anti-college, just a chance to step back and think about things from a different perspective than the one you are always taught.”
The Modern Entrepreneur: The Divided Path of Higher Education” can be viewed on YouTube. You can follow their page on Facebook at Fishbowl Productions (@UDfishbowlproductions).

Photo courtesy of Allyssa Suter.