Top 10 Most Successful College Dropouts

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In the fifties, people would extol the virtues of having a high school education to your way in the world. By the time the sixties were coming to a close, it was pretty clear that college was now a necessity. Well, at least to most of the kids in America. There are always those who feel a need to throw conventionality to the winds.

Some people actually think that college with its rising tuitions has now become a liability in the age of startups. Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel has gone a step further to prove this theory. He has given twenty of the brightest young people around one hundred thousand dollars to start a business instead of wasting time in college.

Even Forbes has a few reasons why you should not go to college. According to them, recent studies show that just getting into a college like Harvard or Princeton is what counts. Pretty much, just having high SAT scores is enough to get you into the better earning brackets. Being smart is better than being educated seems to be the mantra of economic gurus these days.

While college is still the best bet for a person to make a name and a good living for themselves, some pretty successful people did not actually complete their degrees. In less flattering terms, they were college dropouts. Fortunately, there are those that have the fortitude to continue the pursuit of their dreams and then make them pay off. Here is a list of 10 of the most successful college dropouts, and what they accomplished that made them successful:


# 10 – Arash Ferdowsi

Arash Ferdowsi

Arash Ferdowsi dropped out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology after three years. He left MIT because he wanted to start up a little thing he called DropBox. Thanks to me and a few hundred million other folks, Arash is now a multi-millionaire at the tender age of 27. He currently serves as the Chief Tech Officer at DropBox.


# 9 –  Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg was a sophomore when he quit Harvard. His vision was some crazy idea for a social site that he called Facebook. He launched it from his dorm room in 2004 and he has watched it continue to grow ever since. It went public in 2012 in the biggest tech IPO of its time at sixteen billion dollars. That makes Mark one of the most successful college dropouts of all time.


# 8 – David Karp

David Karp

David Karp was already the product manager at at the ripe age of sixteen. It was an internet forum for parents. He left Bronx Science High School for home schooling and never even received his high school diploma. In addition, while he was slacking at his education, he created Davidville…a place that just happened to be the start of Tumblr. His company is now the ninth most visited site in America and this dropout is worth two hundred million dollars.


# 7 – Dustin Moskovitz

Dustin Moskovitz

When Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard for Silicon Valley, he decided to punish the school further by taking Dustin Moskovitz with him. As one of the co-founders of Facebook, Dustin can count himself among the billionaires in the world. He has since left Facebook to create Asana, an app that boosts employee collaboration and productivity. For the record, becoming a billionaire definitely gets you on the list of most successful college dropouts.


# 6 – Daniel Ek

Daniel Ek

Daniel Ek took less than nine weeks to decide college was just slowing him down. At age fourteen, Daniel had already founded his first company. At sixteen he was asking google for a job as an engineer and finally, at twenty-one he co-founded Spotify. The music streaming service now takes care of more than 32 million subscribers. I guess the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden just was not fast enough to keep up with him.


# 5 – Susan Lyne

Susan Lyne

Susan Lyne dropped out of George Washington University. However, that was not good enough for this feisty woman. She also dropped out of the University of California at Berkley and an art school, making her an advanced slacker. However, she had drive, and that took her to the presidency of ABC Entertainment in the early 2000s. From there she did time as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Gilt Group. Currently, she is only the head of AOL content brands.


# 4 – John Mackey

John Mackey

Another of our most successful college dropouts is also a serial dropout. John Mackey dropped out of several Texas colleges in the mid-seventies. His last school was the University of Texas where he majored in religion and philosophy. He joined a vegan co-op, met a girl, fell in love and philosophized that he could do better without college in his way. He borrowed money to open a store and now, after twenty-five years, his food stores Whole Foods brings in a paltry 12 billion dollars annually.


# 3 – Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell

There must be something in the water at Harvard. Gabe Newell dropped out of the ivy league icon too. His distraction from school came in the form of this new thing being worked on called Windows. He worked on the first release of the child of wunderkinds Bill Gates and Paul Allen that granted him Microsoft millionaire status. After 13 years at Microsoft, he left to start Valve Corp., a successful video game developing company with titles like Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Portal.


# 2 – Evan Williams

Evan Williams

Evan Williams makes the list of most successful college dropouts for his part in founding Blogger. When he decided that studying at the University of Nebraska was interfering with his ability to make money he left and created Pyra Labs. It was there that he started Blogger, which continued to grow until Google acquired it in one of their early buying sprees. The midas touch followed Even when he eventually left Google and started Odeo. Odeo turned into Twitter where he served as CEO for a spin. His current project is another blogger platform called Medium.


# 1 – Bill Gates

Bill Gates

As winner of the coveted # 1 spot of most successful college dropouts, this mogul is arguably the richest man in the world. Bill Gates entered…you guessed it, Harvard…in 1973. By 1975, he was out and in the business world. Together with his best bud Paul Allen, they founded the incredibly successful Microsoft and they earned a whopping sixteen thousand and five dollars in revenue for their first year. By 1981, they were an incorporated business and today they have a global revenue of just fewer than 78 billion dollars a year. In 2007, Harvard gave Bill an honorary degree.

My guess is that Harvard finally got tired of seeing so much success happening after people left. At least now, they can say that Bill Gates is a Harvard graduate. That aside, it seems that the key to a wildly successful career is to make your way to the prestigious halls of Harvard, find a good friend and drop out. Doing this might just get you on a list of the most successful college dropouts in some future time.