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article image15 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Need College

By Chris V. Thangham     Nov 6, 2007 in Business
The following entrepreneurs became successful without having a college degree, while in many homes parents insisted a college degree was needed to get ahead. Some of the big names are Richard Branson, Mary Kay Ash, Bill Gates and Simon Cowell.
Is college really necessary? Most parents would say yes, but these entrepreneurs made it without an education and became multimillionaires.
Recent news from College-Startup shows some of the people who made big without the college piece of paper:
Mary Kay Ash: She is the founder of Mary Kay Inc., and started a cosmetics business. Without a college education and training, she made her name famous throughout the cosmetics world. Nearly half a million women have started Mary Kay businesses selling her brand name products. Here is a dedication site for Mary Kay Ash.
Richard Branson: He is the owner of Virgin brand and its 360 companies. He owns some major businesses such as Virgin Atlantic Airway and Virgin Megastore. He dropped out at the age of 16 and started his own business named Student Magazine.
Simon Cowell: He began his career in a mail room for a music publishing company, and soon became an executive for Sony BMG in the UK, and television producer for the popular show in the world, American Idol and also judges Idol and other talent contests worldwide. He doesn’t have a college degree.
Michael Dell: With just $1,000 in his pocket, Michael Dell dropped out of college at age 19 and started his own brand name PC Company called Dell, Inc. It became the most profitable company in the world.
Coco Chanel: Gabrielle Coco Chanel was an orphan and she trained to become a seamstress. She made a revolution in the woman’s fashions industry. Now she has a perfume in her name, Chanel No. 5.
Walt Disney: Disney dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and started his famous animation business and captivated children and adults alike. He holds the record for the most awards and nominations. Now Disney’s company has annual revenues of $30 billion dollars.
Bill Gates: Currently the world’s third richest person, Bill Gates was a college drop out. He started the largest computer software company, Microsoft Corporation. Gates and his wife Melinda Gates are actively involved in their The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Steve Jobs: He attended only one semester of college, Steve Jobs dropped out and worked for Atari before co-founding Apple Computers. He created unique brands during the second part of his rein in Apple with products like iPod, iTunes, Leopard, and iPhone.
Henry Ford: At age 16, Henry Ford left home and became a machinist. He later started Ford Motor Company to manufacture automobiles. He created the famous Model T made specifically for the masses, allowed Ford to open a large factory and later started the assembly line production, revolutionizing the auto making industry as well as other industries.
Milton Hershey: With only a fourth grade education, Milton Hershey started his own chocolate company; Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and marketed the first national chocolate brand.
Frank Lloyd Wright: He never attended high school; Frank Lloyd Wright became the most influential architect of the twentieth century. Wright designed more than 1,100 projects and completed about half of them. He blends nature into his designs make it unique.
And there are others like Barry Diller who started Fox Broadcasting Company, Debbi Fields, who started Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chippery (later became Mrs. Fields’ Cookies), Rachel Ray with no culinary experience has her own cooking and talk shows and Ty Warner, who was the man behind the Beanie Babies craze made over $700 million in one year.
All of them are inspirations to others. A part of their success can be attributed to hard work and a passion to excel. But are they the wrong role models for education? Not everyone without education has succeeded.
Some other names who have made it big with a college degree include Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, Steve Balmer of Microsoft, Hewlett, Packard, Edison, and many more.
What is your view on this, is education really necessary?
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