10 Extremely Rich College Dropouts


Never finished college? No worries, you can still be successful even if your family says you cant.

Here’s a list of college dropouts that turned out to be very wealthy entrepreneurs and billionaires. (we have some dropout statistics for you too)

Many Americans go to elementary school, high school, and college, but not everyone adheres to this guideline strictly.

Some people don’t have the money to go to college, but some try to attend, but eventually drop out.

In fact, without the student loans and scholarships, many young people might not be getting a college education because of the cost.

But just because you can’t get a college degree, doesn’t mean your future is bleak. There are a lot of popular and successful people in the world who managed to build an empire despite either only finishing high school or never being able to complete their college degree.

Here are some of those people, who dropped out of college, but still managed to become successful business people:

Rich College Dropout Entrepreneurs

Rachel Ray


image source: thefamouspeople.com

She’s a TV personality with a cook-and-talk show and a growing million-dollar business. Ray was from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, born in August 1968. Her mother worked as a chef and restaurant manager in New York, so Ray and her siblings spent a lot of time helping out in the restaurant kitchens.

After graduating high school, in 1986, she enrolled in Pace University for a degree in literature and communications, but she never did finish it. She dropped out just after 2 years because she wanted to pursue her own business ideas.

In high school, she had created her own business, Delicious Liaisons, and so she decided to work and save her earnings for a business career instead.

She left New York for the Adironacks. There, she became a chef for Cowan & Label. It was there that Ray started offering cooking classes to the customers at the store.

It was so popular that a TV station hired her to do a “30-minute meal” mini-show. She compiled her recipes into a cookbook, which became a bestseller. Even before she got her own Rachel Ray show, she was already a successful entrepreneur.

Russell Wendell Simmons


Russell Simmons image Source: thefamouspeople.com

Simmons was born in Queens, New York on October 4, 1957. He became a businessman at a young age, except that it sent him to jail twice (he was selling marijuana). He managed to get his high school diploma. In 1975, he decided to attend the City College of New York.

There, he met DJ and artist Kurtis Blow (born Kurt Walker), who influenced his love for hip-hop and music. Simmons decided to quit college and pursue something related to his newfound passion.

He founded Rush Management to promote local rap artists. The genre gained popularity, and soon Simmons became the co-founded Def Jam Records.

The record label gained fame and fortune. Not satisfied, Simmons created his clothing line, Phat Farm, in 1992. It was a huge success, and it introduced more lines for women, young people, and even for sports fans and athletes.

Not only that, Simmons produced The Nutty Professor and Def Poetry Jam on HBO.

Stacey Ferreira


Stacey Ferreira image by: inc.com

Ferreira was born on September 11, 1992 in Arizona to parents who worked in the finance and business industry. She went to Xavier College Preparatory for high school.

When she was just 11 years old, she was already involved in a non-profit organization in her school. She spent her summers at a local TV station showing education shows for kids.

She founded MySocialCloud, a site that serves as a bookmark storage. Here, users can log in to different social media accounts with just one log in at MySocialCloud.

Ferreira decided to attend New York University, under the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development so that she could get a degree in business.

After just two semesters, though, she dropped out because she wanted to focus her time on promoting and making a full-time business out of MySocialCloud.

She sold it to Reputation.com in 2013, and currently, Ferreira is the CEO of Forge, a management software for the workplace.

Aimee Elizabeth


Aimee Elizabeth image source: i.ytimg.com

Elizabeth had a colorful life, filled with tremendous ups and downs. She had started babysitting when she was just 8 years old, started lawn moving for cash at 9, and worked at the local library when she was 14.

She had an argument with her mother, though, and was kicked out of the house. Homeless at age 15, Elizabeth used up her business savings to get an apartment. She continued her high school diploma, while managing a cleaning business.

She went to Brookhaven Community College, but stopped after doing two semesters because she realized that there were other, more important, things she wanted to dedicate her time and money to; So, she worked as an insurance underwriter at a firm in 1981.

She then started her own set of businesses, Lacy Lingerie, Tracy’s (Night Club), Pet Pals (pet-sitting), and Fancy Plants (indoor plant services and sales).

She then became a business consultant and sold her bestselling book, “Poverty Sucks! How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire”.

Lisa Cash Hanson


Lisa Hanson image courtesy: businessinsider.com

Featured by Business Insider, this entrepreneur used to be a celebrity impersonator. Now, she’s a business mogul!

Hanson was from Las Vegas. Before going into business, she studied at Eastern Michigan University, where she was going to pursue music and business. But after only two years, she decided to start her own business in MompreneurMogue.com, a parenting and finance blog.

She was an impersonator and singer, performing for Fortune 500 companies. After a while, she decided to take major control of her financial state by starting up her own business. She was able to create SnuggWugg, her interactive baby gear company.

With the success of her products, she was able to write business books and launch the Blogs to Riches Club, a membership group where she serves as consultant and adviser.

College Dropout Billionaires

Bill Gates


Bill Gates image by: aib.edu.au

The famous founder of Microsoft, William Henry Gates the Third was born in Seattle, Washington on October 28, 1955.

He was already greatly interested in computers at a young age. In fact, he and future Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, along with two other students were banned from using a computer because they had been trying to find bugs in the software to get more computer time.

He pursued computer programming at Harvard College in 1973.

He used the college’s computers, and created and presented brilliant algorithms, but Gates never had a clear vision of his future after college.

When he met Paul Allen again in 1974, they both decided that it was time to create their own company. With his parents’ consent, he dropped out of college.

In 1975, he and Allen worked at MITS, creator of the new microcomputer. They named their partnership “Microsoft”. The rest is history.

According to Forbes.com Bill Gates is currently the richest person in the world worth $75 Billion dollars. (more than Warren Buffet)

Oprah Winfrey


Oprah Winfrey image source: people.com

She was not just a talk show host. Winfrey was a competitive businesswoman.

She was originally named “Orpah” from the Bible, but no one could pronounce it right, so she became “Oprah”. Originally born in Mississippi, on January 29, 1954, Winfrey went to live with her father (her parents weren’t married), in Nashville.

Winfrey had a troubled life, having experienced sexual abuse at the hands of her relatives, then becoming pregnant at age 14. Her baby died at birth, and she continued her high school education at Lincoln High School, but was transferred to Nicolet High School.

Winfrey won in a speech competition, and got a scholarship for Tennessee State University where she majored in communications.

While there, she worked at a grocery store. She also joined and won a beauty pageant, which caught the eye of a radio station. She became engrossed in doing the radio news that she dropped out of college to pursue her media career.

In 1983, she was given her own talk show, AM Chicago. It was later renamedThe Oprah Winfrey Show”.

David Geffen


David Geffen image from: crainsnewyork.com

Geffen was born in Brooklyn, on February 21, 1943. His parents were Jewish immigrants. He graduated from high school, but had very low grades.

Undeterred, David went on to college, studying at the University of Texas, Austin. He was only there for a semester, having failed his classes.

He then found work at the CBS-TV as an usher. He became receptionist, but was soon fired after he made suggestions to the script of a show.

He went to Brooklyn College, but then decided to drop out again. He went to Los Angeles, and again enrolled at another college, Santa Monica College, but left soon after. According to Geffen, his studies were hampered by his dyslexia.

Geffen decided to establish relationships with talents at the William Morris Talent Agency, where he worked as an agent. He managed a rising star, and was able to get contracts with other personalities.

In 1970, he co-founded Asylum Records with a friend from the Agency. In 1975, Steve Ross asked Geffen to manage Warner Brothers Pictures.

In 1980, he started Geffen Records and signed on artists like John Lennon and Elton John. But Geffen is most known as being the co-founder of DreamWorks, which he started in 1990, together with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Michael Dell


Michael image by: slate.com

Dell was born on February 23, 1965 in Houston. He studied at Herod Elementary School, but because he wanted to do business extremely early, Michael took a high school equivalency exam when he was just 8 years old!

When he was just 15 years old, he got his Apple II computer, but instead of using it, he dismantled it to see how it would work. While in high school, he sold subscriptions to the Houston Post.

He enrolled as pre-med student at the University of Texas, but already Dell was managing his own business. He was selling kits for upgrading PCs. He then applied for a vendor’s license so that he could win bids for state contracts, which he was able to do.

Dell eventually dropped out, seeing as that he was already successful in his business. In 1984, he decided to sell his personal computers by himself. He called it “PC’s Limited, where his main storehouse and business office was his own condominium.

In May of that year, he had renamed it to “Dell Computers, Inc.”. And by age 27, in 1992, he was the youngest CEO listed by Fortune magazine.

Steve Jobs


steve jobs image courtesy: huffingtonpost.com

Who doesn’t know of Steve Jobs? There are two recent films about his life, one starring Ashton Kutcher, and another one with Michael Fassbender. Jobs was a genius and remarkable businessman who brought Apple products to the world.

He was born on February 24, 1955, and adopted by a couple who had no college education. They moved to California. Jobs had a hard time in school because of his rebellious nature. He was a naughty child, and was often caught performing pranks on other students.

His fourth grade teacher somehow managed to bribe him to finish his homework and projects. His family moved again, and when Jobs was 13 years old, he was given a job assembling frequency counters.

In a new high school, Jobs befriended Steve Wozniak. When Wozniak went to study in the University of California, Berkeley, Jobs visited his friend regularly. He soon studied at Reed College in Oregon.

The college was expensive and Jobs dropped out because he didn’t want his parents’ money to go to waste. He knew he would be able to study on his own.

Although he was never an official student, he still attended classes to learn, and even did a calligraphy class (which Jobs said helped him come up with multiple typefaces for Mac).

Jobs was given a job in Atari, Inc. in 1973.

In 1976, Wozniak created the Apple I computer. Jobs suggested selling it, but eventually they started their own company, manufacturing and selling their Apple computers.

College Dropout Statistics

How many college students in the U.S. really do drop out of college? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2014, only 60% of students studying a 4-year degree managed to complete their studies. The rest dropped out.


statistics of college dropouts image source: collegeatlas.org

According to data from 2015 studies, presented by College Atlas, 75% of college students who need to take remedial classes never actually finish their college degrees.

30% of students withdraw from their college after freshman year, and a more worrying thought about the US college education is that those without a college degree has as much chance of being employed as those with a degree.

In short, the degree doesn’t make much difference in finding a job after college.

Degrees can cost anywhere from $180,000 to $400,000, so it’s not really a surprise when others decide against obtaining or finishing their college programs.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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