College Dropouts


Multi-million dollar college dropouts should be accepted as the exception, not the norm (photo courtesy of Charles Epting Rock Photography on flickr).

Whether or not a college degree is worth the time, effort, and price tag has been up for debate in recent years. Students who are spending thousands of dollars in tuition are left unemployed upon graduation; in fact, some economists are even going as far as to state that college degrees are not worth the paper they’re written on. A college degree has not always been a necessary item in order to survive; in fact, some of the most successful individuals have acquired a certificate or less, but rely on their creativity and intelligence to succeed.

Kanye West

After attending art classes for one semester at the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1997, West transferred to Chicago State University. Shortly thereafter he dropped out to focus on his music career. West’s debut album, The College Dropout, was released in 2004.

Mark Zuckerburg

Zuckerburg dropped out of Harvard University and decided to move to Palo Alto, California to further build his social media networking website, Facebook. He is estimated to now be worth $13.3 billion.

Bill Gates

Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973, with a 1590 out of 1600 on his SAT. He enrolled at Harvard College for the following semester, but only attended for two years. While enrolled he never had a clear plan for what he wanted to study, and took the opportunity to start his own computer software company after the release of the MITS Altair 8800 in 1975.

Steve Jobs

After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. One could assume that due to the high cost of college and his parents’ inability to afford it, Jobs dropped out just six months later, but continued auditing classes for 18 months thereafter. In 1973, Jobs accepted a position as a technician with Atari in California and eventually launched the “Apple Computer Company” in 1976.

Russell Simmons

Before forming his management company for artists, Rush Management, Simmons left Manhattan City College just a few credits shy of a degree in sociology. His current estimated net worth is $340 million.

Brad Pitt

Upon graduation from Kickapoo High School in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Pitt enrolled in classes at the University of Missouri to study journalism and advertising. As graduation approached, Pitt rediscovered his love for film and decided to move to Los Angeles, just two weeks before graduating with his degree.

Pete Wentz

Pete Wentz is probably best known as the bassist for the rock band Fall Out Boy, despite his various other interests and projects. Before his music career took off, Wentz studied political science at DePaul University, but dropped out just one semester before graduation to focus on music.

John Mayer

American pop rock and blues musician, John Mayer, enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts when he was 19 years old (1996). After two semesters Mayer moved to Atlanta and formed a two-man band called LoFi Masters. His love for music, and specifically the guitar, originated from Michael J. Fox’s guitar performance as Marty McFly in Back to the Future.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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