Overview There is an elite group. Those who have shunned the completion of their formal education, and gone on to greatness in the business world. There are those whom history has placed in high esteem, such as, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Coco Chanel, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Eastman, and Walt Disney, to name a handful.
- Disney- dropped out of school at the age of 15. Arrived in Hollywood in 1923 with his brother, Roy, to set up a cartoon studio.
- Ford- founder of the Ford Motor Company-never attended college. In 1891, he began experimenting with gasoline engines.
- Carnegie- Scottish immigrant whose schooling ceased at 13 when his parents emigrated to America in 1848. Started Carnegie Steel Company which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million ($13.6 billion in 2013).
- Chanel- the lady behind the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume had a miserable childhood as her parents drifted from town to town in France. Coco (real name: Gabrielle) started working as a seamstress. Her meager schooling was when she was taken in by a convent at 12, in 1895. She had to leave at 18 due to her age.
- Wright- designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 532. He dropped out of high school, and was then, somehow, admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a special student in 1886. He never earned a degree. Yet, the American Institute of Architects deemed Wright as “the greatest American architect of all time.”
- Eastman- dropped out of high school to work on and perfect the first film roll in 1884 and the Kodak camera in 1888.
These people are recorded in history for their remarkable accomplishments and inventions. At the turn of the century, many had little choice but to enter the work force. What about more contemporary wealthy people who truncated their schooling?
- Steve Jobs- the co-founder of one of the most iconic brands in the world- Apple. Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon for six months in 1972. That same year, he met, Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak who had designed a video game called Pong. In 1976, Apple Computer was born in the garage of Job’s parents. At the time of his death from cancer in 2011, Jobs had a net worth of $8.3 billion.
- Rachael Ray- the highly successful chef, author and business woman has no formal culinary school education. In 1995, she worked at Macy’s candy counter in New York City. She then became a pub manager. After that, she was a buyer at a gourmet market in Albany, NY. She signed her first Food Network contract in 2001.
- Mark Zuckerberg- one of the five co-founders of the ubiquitous, Facebook which he launched from his Harvard dormitory in February 2004. He subsequently dropped out of the prestigious school in his sophomore year. His salary as CEO of Facebook is $1/annually. Who needs a salary when their net worth is just north of $33 billion?
- David Karp- less known that Zuckerberg, and less net worth ($200 million) but certainly highly successful. David dropped out of high school at 15 and was home-schooled. He never earned a high school diploma but that didn’t curtail his penchant for designing websites since the age of 11. He’s the founder of the microblogging platform, Tumblr, that was purchased by Yahoo! in 2014 for $1.1 billion. Karp remains the CEO.
Conclusion To reiterate, this is an elite and gifted sampling of extremely accomplished business people. A few are in the ranks of Forbes’ richest people on the planet. As of 2014, there are a record 2014 billionaires in the world. An increase of 268 from 2013. Their fortunes literally fluctuate by hundreds of millions daily with a few percentage points swing in the stock market. Before you decide to abandon your college education, keep this in mind. In 2012, the median income for those with a high school diploma was $30,000/annually. The median income for a bachelor’s degree was $46,900 and close to $60,000 with a master’s. You may be fortunate enough to have both: a degree and be your own CEO. For example, Sara Blakely founded the women’s apparel known as Spanx. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Florida but failed to pass the Law School Admission Test. At the age of 27, she launched the apparel line in 1998. Today, her net worth is $1 billion.