real college dropouts

20 Billionaire College Dropouts

real college dropouts
During college we’ve all probably contemplated dropping out. Hell! before college I’m sure we all consider running away and joining he circus instead (maybe that was just me). But since all of us already know what a college dropout is, there is no real need to define it. However, small space aliens who read Bright Futura with hopes of understanding humanity might want a definition. So…
Definition: A college dropout refers to a person who has dropped out from a college or university before completing his/her degree.
Some of the world’s most famous and richest billionaires (including the second richest man in the world, Bill Gates are college dropouts.) But don’t be deceived, just because the average net worth of the below billionaire dropouts is
$9.4 billion, doesn’t mean dropping out is a good idea.  Especially when considering that the average net worth of billionaire dropouts is approximately triple that of billionaires with Ph.D.s, $3.2 billion …. err pretend I didn’t say anything.
Fun Fact: According to a recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, 20% of America’s millionaires never attended college. (Bright Futura will not be supporting you if you drop out of college and don’t make anything of your life. We hope for your success but it is not our responsibility…just say)

 Listed Below Are 20 Of The Most Successful Billionaire College Dropouts

1. Bill Gates

drop out billionaire

Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft.
Gates attended Harvard in the fall of 1973, only to drop out two years later to found Microsoft with childhood friend Paul Allen. In 2007, more than thirty years after he left Harvard, the co-founder of Microsoft would finally receive his degree (an honorary doctorate) from his alma mater. At the commencement, Gates said,

“I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.”

University attended: Harvard

Net worth: US$ 61 billion (2012)

Major: Not Available

Company: Microsoft

2. Mark Zuckerburg

mark z

Mark is just your everyday average an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. You might have heard of him… He invented Facebook. He is best known as one of four co-founders of the social networking site Facebook, of which he is chairman and chief executive.It was co-founded as a private company in 2004 by Zuckerberg and classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while they were students at Harvard University.

University attended: Harvard

Net worth: US$ 17.5 billion (2012)

Major: psychology and computer science

Company: Facebook


3. Lawrence Ellison

billionaire drop out

Larry is the co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, one of the world’s leading enterprise software companies. Larry was a bright but inattentive student (sounds like plenty of my friends). He left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the end of his second year, after not taking his final exams because his adoptive mother had just died.

After spending a summer in Northern California, where he lived with his friend Chuck Weiss, Ellison attended the University of Chicago for one term, where he first encountered computer design. In 1964, at 20 years of age, he moved to Northern California permanently. Like a boss.

University attended: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago

Net worth: US$ 36 billion (2012)

Major: Not Available

Company: Oracle


4. Michael Dell

drop outs

While a freshman pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin, Dell started an informal business in his dorm room putting together and selling upgrade kits for personal computers. He then applied for a vendor license to bid on contracts for the State of Texas, winning bids by not having the overhead of a computer store.
Michael Dell actually just called me and asked “What we are all doing with our lives?”

University attended: University of Texas at Austin

Net worth: US$15 billion (2011)

Major: Not available

Company:  Dell


5. Marc Rich

Marc Rich attended New York University, in Manhattan, but dropped out after one semester to go work for Philipp Brothers.

He later founded Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trading company that you probably never heard of. (Hipster smirk)

University attended: New York University

Net worth: US$1 billion (2011)

Major: Not available

Company:  Glencore


6. Ty Warner

ty warner

Warner attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, WI. Warner attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan but dropped out after a year and moved to Hollywood to commence a career in acting. He had little success as an actor and returned to Chicago. There he began working for plush toy maker Dakin. After nearly two decades at Dakin and a long sabbatical in Italy, Warner returned to Chicago.

In 1986, Warner mortgaged his home and invested his life savings into founding Ty Inc.

In 1993, Ty Inc. launched Beanie Babies.

At the peak of the Beanie craze, the privately owned Ty Inc. is believed to have earned over $700 million in profits in a year. All because you hhaaaaaddd to have those beanie babies.

University attended: Kalamazoo College

Net worth: US$2.9 billion (2010)

Major: Not available

Company:  Ty Inc. (best known for Beanie Babies)


7. Sheldon Adelson

drop out

Adelson went to college at the City College of New York, but dropped out. He later went on to do hoodrat things with his friends. He also became a billionaire. No big deal.

University attended: City College of New York

Net worth: US$24.9 billion (2012)

Major: Not available

Company:  Las Vegas Sands


8. Kirk Kerkorian

billionaire drop outs

Kirk is what many of us would call a bad ass.

Dropping out of school in 8th grade, he proceeded to become an amateur boxer, business man, pilot, milk maid, cattle herder and eventually a billionaire. Swag.

University attended: Never attended

Net worth: US$24.9 billion (2012)

Major: Not available

Company: Tracinda Corporation


9. Donald Newhouse

billionaire drop outs

Not much is known about this mysterious man who attended Syracuse, only that he is rich as hell and dropped out.

University attended: Syracuse University

Net worth: US$4 billion (2012)

Major: Not available

Company: Advance Publications


10. Micky Arison

Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, and owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat once went to a college in Miami. But he decided you know what would be cool? Becoming a billionaire. So, he dropped out and chased his dreams.

University attended: University of Miami

Net worth: US$5.9 billion (2012)

Major: Not available

Company: Owner of the NBA‘s Miami Heat, Carnival Corporation


11. David Geffen

billionaire drop outs

Geffen was born in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, then attended Santa Monica College, but soon left. He then attended night school at Brooklyn College for 3 semesters before again dropping out. He also briefly attended the University of Texas at Austin.

University attended: New Utrecht High School, Santa Monica College, Brooklyn College, University of Texas at Austin.

Net worth: US$7.4 billion (2012)

Major: Not available

Company: Asylum Records, Geffen Records, DGC Records, DreamWorks SKG


12.Ralph Lifshitz aka “Ralph Lauren”

college drop outs

He went to Baruch College where he studied business, although he dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the United States Army. He did not attend fashion school, but worked for Brooks Brothers as a salesman.

In 1967, with the financial backing of Manhattan clothing manufacturer Norman Hilton, Lauren opened a necktie store where he also sold ties of his own design, under the label “Polo.”

He later received the rights to use the trademark Polo from Brooks Brothers.

University attended: Baruch College

Net worth: US$ 7.5 billion (2012)

Major: Business

Company: Polo Ralph Lauren

Fun Fact: Apparently Ralph was teased about it in school.“My given name has the word shit in it,” he told Oprah Winfrey. “When I was a kid, the other kids would make a lot of fun of me. It was a tough name. That’s why I decided to change it.

13. Ted Turner

Turner attended Brown University and was vice-president of the Brown Debating Union and captain of the sailing team. He became a member of Kappa Sigma.

Turner initially majored in Classics. Turner’s father wrote saying that his choice made him “appalled, even horrified,” and that he “almost puked.”Turner later changed his major to Economics,

but before receiving a diploma, he was expelled for having a female student in his dormitory room.Turner’s media empire began with his father’s billboard business, which he took over at 24 after his father’s suicide.

University attended: Brown University

Net worth: US$2 billion (2012

Major: Classics but switched to Economics

Company: founder of TBS and CNN, former owner of Atlanta Braves owner, WCW, and creator of animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers.


13-14. Sergey Brin and Larry Page

google creators

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page didn’t drop out undergrad. However they are still technically college dropouts, as they dropped out of their PhD programs.

Sergey Brin earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science.

Larry Page holds a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from the University of Michigan with honors and a Master of Science in computer science from Stanford University.While at the University of Michigan, “Page created an inkjet printer made of Lego bricks” (actually a line plotter),served as the president of the Eta Kappa Nu in Fall 1994,and was a member of the 1993 “Maize & Blue” University of Michigan Solar Car team.

Both Larry and Sergey attend Stanford University to acquire their Ph.D in computer science. This is where they met and became friends. They crammed their dormitory room with inexpensive computers and applied Brin’s data mining system to build a superior search engine. The program became popular at Stanford and they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in a rented garage.

University attended: University of Maryland & University of Michigan

Net worth: US$ 16.7 billion (2011), US$ 16.7 billion (2011)

Major: (Brin) Mathematics, Computer science & computer engineering

Company: Google


15. Jack Taylor


With an estimated current net worth of around $7.4 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 18th-richest American and the 40th-richest person in the world. But at some point his life he attended lectures with boring ass professors. He didn’t stick around but if he had he probably would have rocked out in college as well.

Jack Taylor understood what many people fail to. It isn’t about investing in a company, a job or a college but instead its about investing in yourself.

University attended: Washington University in St. Louis

Net worth: US$7.4 billion (2012)

Major: Not available

Company: Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company

billionaire college dropouts

16. David Murdock (Deceased)

college drop out

Murdock grew up in Montgomery Township, Ohio and dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. He was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1943 during World War II.

After relocating to Detroit after the war, Murdock was homeless and destitute. He never gave up though and eventually balled out of control.

In 1978, he acquired control of International Mining. In early 1980s, he became the largest shareholder in Occidental Petroleum.

University attended: Never Attended

Net worth: US$3 billion (2011)

Major: Not available

Company: Castle & Cooke and the Dole Food Company.


17. Steve Jobs (Deceased)

college drop out

Jobs was an American businessman, designer and inventor. He is best known as the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Reed was an expensive college which Paul and Clara could ill afford. They were spending much of their life savings on their son’s higher education.

Jobs dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes, including a course on calligraphy.

He continued auditing classes at Reed while sleeping on the floor in friends’ dorm rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.

Fun Fact: Jobs said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.

University attended: Reed College

Net worth: US$7 billion (2012)

Major: Not Available

Company: Apple Inc & Pixar


18. John D. Rockefeller (Deceased)

dropped out of college

Rockefeller attended Cleveland’s Central High School and then took a ten week business course at Folsom’s Commercial College where he studied bookkeeping.

He then made butt loads of money sucking black gold from the ground using a really long bendy straw. True story.

University attended: Folsom’s Commercial College

Net worth: US$392-663.4 billion at the time of his death (adjusted for inflation)

Major: Not available

Company: Film maker and Business Man


20. Howard Hughes (Deceased)

Howard Hughes

Howard was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world. He gained prominence from the late 1920s as a maverick film producer, making big-budget and often controversial films like The Racket (1928), Hell’s Angels (1930), Scarface (1932), and The Outlaw (1943) Hughes dropped out of  shortly after his father’s death.

University attended: Rice University

Net worth: US$1.5 billion at the time of his death (adjusted for inflation)

Major: Not available

Company: Film maker and Business Man


This is not an all inclusive list. There are plenty of other billionaire college dropouts. I however decided to highlight just some of the most extraordinary.

If you know of one worth mentioning or you plan on becoming one let us know in the comments below.


Maximillian Garland| Bright Futura Columnist

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