8 Billionaires Who Dropped Out Of School, Because College Isn’t For Everyone

Leela Sanikop
Written by Leela Sanikop
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It isn’t for everyone — a typical disclaimer when things don’t seem to work out. It could be a marriage, a job, a gym membership, or even the color salmon. That’s becoming more and more of a trend for higher education. It’s not for everyone.

This was something that I actually struggled with myself when applying for colleges. Is college for me? After putting yourself in a great amount of debt, you then have to apply for jobs that aren’t a guarantee to hire you. Before someone begins to argue that college is more than a degree, it’s an experience, I agree. Most college graduates walk away with the ability to write down some of their greatest attributes on their resumes. They created some of their fondest moments with their friends and built great relationships with their peers and faculty. People usually say it’s the time to “find yourself.” That is until you find yourself out of college, stepping into the real world.

Anyone who has a degree should be proud as it is not an easy task to accomplish, especially for the 70 percent of students who work while enrolled. College has been a traditional approach for most people, led blindly by the promise of a successful career path. However, not everyone decided to take that avenue. Wherever there’s a rule, there’s an exception.

These leaders fall into that category by pursuing their vision and steering left of their college degree.

These extraordinary individuals prove that their actions are unprecedented and their leadership has driven them to remarkable success without a college degree. Simply put, college isn’t for everyone.

 

Bill Gates

billionaire
Bill Gates. Photo: newsy.com

 

 

Out of the world’s 2,043 billionaires, I’m sure there are a few individuals that come to mind first for everyone. My guess is that Bill Gates is top of that list. After all, he is the richest man in the world as of today with a net worth of $86 billion, according to Forbes.

He’s known for being Harvard University’s most famous dropout. In 1975, he dropped out of the top-notch university after attending for two years to found Microsoft. Although he doesn’t regret dropping out, he’s an advocate for college.

“Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success. College graduates are more likely to find a rewarding job, earn higher income, and even, evidence shows, live healthier lives than if they didn’t have degrees. They also bring training and skills into America’s workforce, helping our economy grow and stay competitive.”

Fun fact: Back in his college days, Gates never actually showed up for his classes but would rather participate in other classes he wasn’t enrolled in. He thought it would be more fun to overload before finals for his enrolled courses.

“I’m kind of a weird dropout because I take college courses all the time,” Gates says. “I love being a student.”

Earlier this year, Bill Gates mentioned if he were to pursue a career today, he would go into artificial intelligence, the energy sector or biotech. If you’re feeling the need to switch careers anytime soon, I think it would be safe to take his advice.

 

Richard Branson

billionare
Richard Branson Photo: www.completeadvisors.com

 

His father was a barista and his mother was a flight attendant. He struggled with dyslexia. If you read a synopsis of his early life, you would probably not believe that he would later become a multi-billionaire.

Just at the age of 16, Richard Branson dropped of school to start a magazine called Student. The first edition sold $8,000 worth of advertising. This was clearly just the beginning.

He later acquired everything from music studios, record labels and airplanes to an island. With his ambition, he turned that $8,000 revenue into $5 billion without a degree.

“I don’t go into ventures to make a fortune. I do it because I’m not satisfied with the way others are doing business,” Branson said in Entrepreneur.

 

Sir Branson is thriving in the tech world as he continues to invest in several different markets including the latest startup, Memphis Meats, which produces beef, chicken, and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry.

Over the decades that Branson has been in business for himself, he always seems to have a passion for whatever he does. He pushes that same theory onto others who are willing to listen.

“The best advice I could give anyone is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life.”

 

Mark Zuckerberg

billionaire
Mark Zuckerberg. Photo news.harvard.edu

 

Does he even need a story line? If you are not one of the 1 billion active Facebook users who contribute to his success, you may have been one of the moviegoers who paid $15 to watch the story of his rise, “The Social Network,” on the big screen that generated over $260 million in sales revenue.

Mark Zuckerberg, an individual most of us are aware of, has made a big impact on society. He is the co-founder of Facebook and yes, he is another college dropout. After his sophomore year, he left his Harvard dorm to take his rising social media platform to Palo Alto, Calif.

Remember, college isn’t always about getting a degree. It’s not for everyone. However, while Zuckerberg was attending the prestigious university, he was able to build relationships with his peers that helped develop Facebook into what it is today. Not to mention, Harvard is where he met his wife, Priscilla Chan.

 

Although Zuckerberg dropped out of college at the age 20, he did receive an honorary degree 12 years later. Earlier this year, he was invited to speak at Harvard University for the commencement address. In his speech, he touched on several topics that many starting-out entrepreneurs would find helpful:

“I’m here to tell you that finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is to create the world where everyone has a sense of purpose,” Zuckerberg said.

Cosmas Maduka

billionaire
Cosmas Maduka. Photo image www.nigeriafilms.com

Cosmas Maduka’s story proves that where there’s a will, there’s a way. At the age of 4, he lost his father, which caused financial hardship for the family. At 7, he dropped out of primary school to help his mother.  He worked as an automobile apprentice for his uncle until their relationship turned sour. He took what he learned from that turned it into what is now a billion-dollar dream. He’s failed at many businesses which eventually led to his success. He started a company called Coscharis Motors that has continually expanded. It’s now one of the largest automobile dealers in Nigeria. Today, his net worth is $1 billion. With all that Cosmas experienced, it was not coincidence or luck, but all about perseverance and determination.
If there’s anything to take from Maduka’s story, it’s to not give up.

 

 

Ted Turner

billionaire
Ted Turner. Photo Cred. www.cnn.com

 

He founded one of the most popular news channels, the Cable News Network, aka CNN — the first 24-hour cable news channel. That’s a pretty big deal. Even if you aren’t a fan of the network, there are a million other people watching. Although Ted Turner came from an entrepreneurial family background, I’m sure he didn’t expect all of his success in the beginning.

Ted was born in the late 1930s to Ed Turner, who owned his own company, Turner Advertising. His father suffered from bipolar disorder which caused friction between father and son. His mood swings resulted in physically abusing Ted. His father was called to duty in the Navy during World War II, which separated the family. His father relocated everyone to the Gulf Coast, leaving Ted behind in a Cincinnati boarding school. After finishing his secondary education, Ted attended Brown University. However, he left without a diploma. The school kicked him out for having a woman in his dorm room.

Ted’s father eventually made Ted the manager of Turner’s Advertising. Ted proved himself in just the first year of working under his father, doubling the revenue. However, Ted’s father eventually put the company in a financial crisis, which led to him committing suicide. Ted dealt with grief by overloading with work, taking on the role as president and CEO of Turner Advertising. He eventually expanded into TV, creating the success he has today. He has a net worth of $2.2 billion. Not sure if his misfortune molded his success, or if it was his passion for entrepreneurship.

“You can never quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

 

Amancio Ortega

billionaire
Amancio Ortega. Photo: vtc.vn

He has a net worth of $84.2 billion. Would you believe that he came from poverty? Amancio Ortega has a rare story among most of Europe’s wealthiest individuals, who often inherit their wealth. Ortega’s father earned a very small income in the family’s native Spain. To help support the family, Amancio left school as young as 13 to work as a shop assistant at a local company called Gala. He would make clothes by hand that would sell at the store. This line of work allowed him to think like an entrepreneur. At 16, he organized a group of women into sewing cooperatives. After managing the co-op for 10 years, he founded his first company called Confecciones GOA. After his success, he eventually expanded to more than 6,000 stores that include the Zara brand.

Amancio has been successful with his business model, putting him in the top three wealthiest individuals in the world.

“We cannot limit ourselves to continuing on the path we have already opened.”

 

 

Li-Ka Shing

billionaire
Li-Ka Shing. Photo: Calvin Sit/ Bloomberg

 

Like some of these other rags-to-riches stories, Li-Ka Shing had to drop out of school. He grew up in a period of political turmoil in China. His family left China to start over in Hong Kong, which was a struggle. Within a few years of relocating, Shing’s father passed away due to illness. At 15 he was forced to drop out of school to support the family. He started off as a salesman in a plastics trading company. After years of experience, he was interested in going into business for himself and started his own plastics company called Cheung Kong.

Once he saw an opportunity, he began to expand into several real estate investments. His company was later listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He also invented in several technology companies including Horizon Ventures, which backs new internet and technology startup firms. Li also holds a 0.8 percent stake in Facebook, which he acquired when Facebook was in its early stages.

Although Li-Ka Shing wasn’t able to finish his schooling to support his family, he made an incredible comeback. He donated millions to education institutions including US$12.78 million to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, $6.85 million to the University of Cambridge, and $100 million to the Lee Kaun Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

“Vision is perhaps our greatest strength. It has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries. It makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.”

From selling plastic flowers to now being the richest person in Hong Kong, Li-Ka Shing has proven that hard work and discipline will accompany success. As of 2017, Li-Ka Shing has a net worth of $34 billion.

 

Larry Ellison

billionaire
Larry Ellison, founder of the technology giant Oracle Corp. Photo: Michael O’Neill

When someone tells you repeatedly that you will not amount to anything and are good for nothing, there are two ways to respond: Agree or disagree. I believe there are a few handfuls of people who would actually take that criticism and turn it into motivation. Larry Ellison did just that. His adoptive father wasn’t a supportive father figure, making it harder for Larry to succeed.

Larry grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He attempted to go to college at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois. He learned the principals of computer programming and then dropped out, moving to California where he worked in a multitude of tech jobs.

One was at Ampex Corporation, where he developed databases for the CIA. He eventually founded his own company, known today as Oracle, with two partners and $2,000. Today, his net worth is $60 billion. When he originally started Oracle, his goal was to create a working environment where he would enjoy working. He never expected to become rich.

” Great achievers are driven not so much by the pursuit of success, but by the fear of failure.”

 

 


About Leela Sanikop
Leela Sanikop interned with Moguldom Media Group in 2012, assisting with ad trafficking, social media and research for several documentary projects. In 2014, she joined the Moguldom team as a digital marketing coordinator. She works closely with several departments including audience development, sales, ad operations and production. Prior to Moguldom, Leela worked at BNY Mellon as a shareholder service specialist. She graduated from Towson University with a BS in communications.

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