10 Successful Businessmen Without College Degrees

10 Successful Businessmen Without College Degrees

Despite what most might think, a university degree does not equate to success.


Most people are brought up to believe that going to school, getting good grades, working really hard and getting a good job are the steps you need to take to become successful in today's world. Education certainly provides benefits towards your career, but it also isn't necessary all of the time. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who were college dropouts, but still managed to achieve a great deal. I have compiled a list of 10 very successful businessmen who achieved such immense greatness without earning a college degree.

1. Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in 2004 during his sophomore year to work on Facebook full-time. His net worth is estimated around $55.7 billion USD.

2. Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc bought McDonalds in 1961 for $2.7million and turned it into the multi-billion dollar company we know today. He had previously worked as a salesman and never even went to school. With a net worth of $600 million USD at the time of his death in 1984. That's the same as $1.4 billion USD after adjusting for inflation.

3. Evan Williams

Co-founder and former CEO of Twitter went to the University of Nebraska for only a year and a half before leaving to pursue a career in information systems. He is now worth $1.7 billion USD

4. Bill Gates

Billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to focus on building his company. His net worth reaches $96.3 billion USD.

5. Steve Jobs

The late billionaire co-founder of Apple Inc. and Pixar dropped out of Reed College to start Apple after just 6 months. At the time of his death in 2011, Steve Jobs' net worth was estimated at $10.2 billion USD.

6. Steve Wozniak

Like his co-founder (above), Steve Wozniak did not complete college either. His net worth nears $100 million USD.

7. Henry Ford

Henry Ford With 1921 Model T

The automobile billionaire was born into poverty. He never went to school at all, but went on to build Ford Motor Company and become one of the richest men in history. His net worth was valued at around $188–199 billion USD.

8. Michael Dell


The billionaire founder of Dell Computers started his company from his college dorm room before dropping out to build Dell. His net worth is estimated at $28.6 billion USD.

9. Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell dropped out of school at 16 to start his own record label Fanfare when he was 23. His net worth is estimated at $550 million USD.

10. Walt Disney

Founder of the Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney himself dropped out of high school at 16. At the time of his death, Disney's various assets were worth $150 million USD in 1966 dollars which is the same as $1.1 billion USD.

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Why Working With Special Populations Doesn't Make Me A Good Person

What you're missing from the bigger picture.

"What do you do?" might be one of my least favorite questions. Let me tell you why.

I am currently a registered behavior technician at a wonderful program (MAP) nestled in the heart of North Carolina. Usually, when I tell someone what I do, their response is either an uncertain nod or a plain look of confusion. At that time, I break it down by saying, “Basically, I work with children who have autism."

Now, more times than not, the response I receive is along the lines of, “Wow, that's so amazing of you", or my personal favorite, “Good for you. I could NEVER do that."

I understand that working with special populations isn't for everyone, just like being a neurosurgeon isn't for everyone. But, working with special needs children doesn't make me a good person, a saint, or a hero. Every time someone tells you he/she is a teacher, do you gasp and express how much you could NOT be a teacher?

What about when you meet a pediatrician? These people work with children just like I do. I'm certain if you spent one day in my shoes you would see just how much you COULD do my job.

Maybe not all of the technical work, but after a day with these children, you would be humbled by how much you could learn from them.

After all, these children are just children. They want to be accepted just like every other child.

They want to be understood and to be part of a community just like the rest of us.

My job has given me the opportunity to get to know a handful of the more than 3.5 million Americans on the spectrum. I've gotten to know each of their personalities, their quirks, and what makes them unique. I can't help but imagine a world where everyone gets to know these individuals as I have.

A world where we accept all of those who might appear or act different from us and educate ourselves on these populations. A world where that education helps us see that they aren't so different from us after all.

Working with individuals with special needs doesn't make me a good person, because I do it for selfish reasons.

I work with them because I don't know what my life would be like without them. They have taught me so much and changed my life in so many ways. I get to play a small hand in these children's lives. I get to help them learn fundamental life skills you and I take for granted.

But, I also get to leave work every day having learned a lesson. These children have taught me to be a better version of myself and to appreciate even the smallest of things life has to offer. Each day they challenge me to laugh more, have more fun, and not take myself so seriously. They show me more love than I ever knew possible. Maybe it isn't with their words. Maybe it's with the smiles and giggles when we're singing their favorite song, or the way they look at me when they finally get something they have been working so hard to learn.

The hugs, the kisses, and the moments where our two worlds collide and we finally connect; these are the moments that remind me how much these children have to offer the rest of us. If only we would take the time to let them teach us, we would be more selfless, less judgmental, and have a greater appreciation for life.

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

My hope is that this month we work to spread awareness for Autism, as well as other special needs. We take this time to learn something new, to help educate others, and to stop looking at these individuals as though they need special people in their lives to help teach them and focus more on opening our minds to the things they can teach us.

Explore Odyssey's featured Autism Awareness content here.

Cover Image Credit: Katharine Smith

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Dave Ramsey, Thank You For Sharing Your Money Tips And Knowledge With The Rest Of Us

From just starting your program and being only on baby step one I have realized many things.


Ever since starting college I have always had that thought in the back of my head about how am I going to pay off my student debt after getting out of college. This is probably a thought that every student has when they attend college and they know that after they receive their education that they are out in the real world where they have payments to make every month and probably be in debt for most of their life. But after watching your podcast and following your Instagram and seeing all these people paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in a couple of months is very inspirational.

Paid off student debtDave Ramsey Instagram

From just starting your program and being only on baby step one I have realized many things. One, I spend money on a lot of things that I don't need but never realized until I started tracking my spending to make a budget. Two, saving a thousand dollar before actually tackling your debt is a great task as it shows that if you can save a thousand you can find a way to pay off your debt then. Though it does seem like a long process that doesn't seem possible till you finally hit the triple-digit mark. Three, you don't actually need a credit card in life because you will actually have money you can spend instead. Though I am still wondering how exactly this would work later on with wanting to buy homes and cars.

But overall thank you for sharing your story and knowledge about money and your experiences so others can learn and do better with theirs. So let's all be weird and not broke as you like to say.

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