These college dropouts are great examples of flunkers
who can achieve success against the odds. They prove that if you work
hard then you can be successful no matter what. Even if you are from a
not so rich family, even if you decide to leave college, if you have
enough drive and focus you can make your dreams come true.
The richest college dropout in the world is also one of the most well
known. At number two in the world’s richest rankings and with a net
worth of $56 billion, Bill Gates is a household name. He was the world’s
richest person from 1995 to 2007 and again in 2009, unsurprising when
you consider how ubiquitous Microsoft products are in homes and
businesses across the world. Gates enrolled in Harvard as a pre-law
major in 1973, but kept up the computer programming he had begun in 8th
grade. It was these extracurricular activities that made him his fortune
after the release of microcomputer design the Altair 8800 computer
prompted him to set up a software company with Paul Allen. In 1975, he
took a leave of absence from his studies at Harvard, only to return for
an honorary degree in 2007.
Lawrence J. Ellison
The death of his adoptive mother prompted Larry Ellison to drop out of
his second year at University of Illinois. He then spent a single term
at University of Chicago before dropping out again and moving to
California in 1964. These two attempts at college certainly were not
signs of a lack of determination though. In 1977 he founded the company
that would become Oracle, a software firm specializing in data systems.
His abandonment of academia to move to California put him at the heart
of software and computer innovation, a move that has led to him amassing
a fortune of $39.5 billion as of 2011, making him the 5th richest person
in the world.
It is clear that Michael Dell valued education only as a route to
business success. At the age of just 8, he applied to take a high school
equivalency test so that he could enter business sooner. What’s more,
while attending high school he invested money from part time jobs in the
stock market and successfully targeted newlyweds for newspaper
subscriptions while working for the Houston Post, such that he made
$18,000 that year – more than his teacher’s salaries. As a pre-med at
the University of Texas at Austin, he founded the company that would
become Dell. Unsurprisingly, he never completed his studies, but now has
a personal wealth of $14.6 billion, making him the world’s 44th richest
person. ‘Nuff said.
Still only 26, Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest self-made billionaire
in the world and, with $13.5 billion in his pocket, the 52nd richest
person on the planet. As immortalized in the Hollywood movie The Social
Network, he dropped out of Harvard, where he studied psychology and
computer science, to head west to California, overseeing the rise of the
social media phenomenon that is Facebook. Even though Facebook was
originally targeted at a college market, it was by dropping out and
seeking venture capital that Zuckerberg gained such huge success.
Apparently a college degree isn't a prerequisite for flying the
Millennium Falcon. Harrison Ford, of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame,
majored in philosophy at Ripon College, but dropped out shortly before
graduation. He subsequently landed several small parts in Hollywood
productions, but unhappy with such minor roles, turned to a career in
professional carpentry instead. Almost ten years later, he would co-star
in George Lucas' 1973 graduation night comedy American Graffiti and
subsequently joined Lucas in a galaxy far, far away in the 1977
blockbuster Star Wars.