10 Successful People Who Dropped Out of College

Your parents, teachers, and even politicians preach about how important going to college is. They say you won’t be as successful without a college education and that you won’t make nearly as much money. There are even studies that have proven college grads simply just do better in life. It makes you wonder; there’s got to be some successful people in life who never went to college, right? Maybe you can’t afford college, and you just want some hope that you’re not completely screwed in life. Well, you might be surprised to hear that some of the most successful people in the world never made it to see their college diploma. Look no further, because we’ve got a list of super successful people who never went to college.

1. Bill Gates

The inventor of Microsoft and the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, never graduated college. That’s right, after two years at Harvard, Gates called it quits. Harvard eventually granted Gates an honorary degree in 2007, because come on, it’s Bill Gates! Gates is now one of the best-known entrepreneurs in history, has begun numerous charities, and is worth a whopping $78.8 billion dollars. In case you were wondering, Microsoft’s lesser-known co-founder Paul Allen also dropped out of college. We’re going to go ahead and say this whole dropping out of college thing really worked in these Microsoft guy’s favor.

2. Mark Zuckerberg

Everyone knows the story about how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook out of his college dorm, but who knew that that he never graduated? He dropped out of Harvard his sophomore year to move to Silicon Valley and put all of his time and energy into the site. Lucky for Mark, Facebook is arguably the most used social media site out there, so his decision to drop out was clearly a smart move. There was even a movie made about Zuckerberg’s journey to the top.

3. Steve Jobs

Need I say more? Steve Jobs, the founder of a little company called Apple, is hailed as the Thomas Edison of our time but never graduated college. He never even made it past one semester. That’s right, Jobs dropped out after one semester and had to collect cans and bottles to make ends meet. Who knew that years later, Jobs would be named the most powerful man in business, and would be worth billions of dollars.

4. David Ek 

David Ek only lasted eight weeks at his college in Sweden before he decided to drop out. Within a few years, he was already a millionaire. Ek has always been somewhat of a genius. Hence, he applied to be a Google engineer at age sixteen. So who is he? Ek is the co-founder of the Swedish music streaming service, Spotify, which has over 32 million users worldwide. Seems like these tech guys are onto something?

5. Susan Lyne

Susan Lyne tried out three colleges before ultimately dropping out, but this didn’t hold her back from having a successful and diverse career. The recently named CEO of AOL’s content brands used to be ABC’s president, as well as was the CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Gilt Groupe.

6. John Mackey

Who would’ve thought Whole Food’s founder, John Mackey, not only didn’t graduate college, he never even took a business course? Well, it’s the truth, Mackey dropped out of the University of Texas multiple times while studying religion and philosophy. Then, he joined a vegan co-op, met a girl, and borrowed money to open his first store. Whole Foods has now gone international and does more than $12 billion in sales.

7. Arash Ferdowsi

Pardon the pun, but the founder of DropBox was a college drop-out. Arash Ferdowsi is a co-founder of DropBox, which is now worth an estimated $4 billion. Yes, Dropbox is worth billions of dollars, and Arash is obviously enjoying the benefits. He became a millionaire at age 27. Arash is a 30-year-old Iranian-American entrepreneur who dropped out of MIT in his last year to focus on his business. Dropbox started out as a small startup but now has hundreds of millions of users. Way to go, Arash, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t jealous.

8. David Karp

Maybe you’ve heard of a little site called Tumblr. Of course you have, it’s the 9th most visited site in the nation. Not only did Tumblr’s creator, David Karp, never graduate college- he never even graduated high school! Nevertheless, Karp is worth an estimated $200 million dollars. Anyone who called Karp a loser way back when have definitely put their foots in their mouths, while he laughs his way to the bank.

9. Ralph Lauren

The fashion mogul, who is worth an estimated $7 billion, dropped out at age 20 after two years of studying business. He joined the Army and worked as a tie salesperson before opening his own necktie store. The rest is history, and although Ralph just recently stepped down as CEO, we have no doubt that Ralph Lauren will continue to be worn by the best of them.

10. Oprah Winfrey

We want to end this list with the Big O herself, Oprah Winfrey. Oprah left the University of Tennessee midway through her studies when she was offered a job. Oprah worked on the radio as she began her university studies, then quickly became the first black female news anchor when she joined a local news crew in Nashville. From there, Oprah joined a morning talk show in Chicago. Oprah took the show from the last place in the ratings to first, all in a matter of months. As we all know, the rest is history, and Orpah became one of the most famous, wealthy, and relevant talk show hosts in history. Not to mention, she has $3 billion to show for it.