In this article, I will discuss a subject that can spark a controversial debate. There has always been this contentious issue on whether or not academia is really important. Some are proponents of the importance of having a college or university degree. Some are heavily opposed to the idea of pursuing a college or university degree. Given my subject matter today I will explore a bit why it somehow makes sense to not have one. Mind you I am not advocating that people should not have academic pursuits – far from it! I just want to put some things into perspective and hopefully hear what you have to say.
Degree Equals Success – How True Is That?
Well, quite a sizable number of people think that having a degree does not always mean success. It is a debatable issue like I said but there are some compelling reasons why some people think so. For example, most of the employed folk in Zimbabwe are in the informal sector. A recent survey showed that the Zimbabwean informal sector employs roughly 95 per cent of the total workforce in Zimbabwe. This shows that the vast majority of people are doing things unrelated to or not based on their academic degrees. Most of the people who are making money ridicule degree holders because they get far less. Additionally, the rate of unemployment is sky-high with most graduates unemployed.
Degree proponents do feel that it is just the ailing state of the economy that has created an illusion that degrees do not matter. However, there are various other metrics to explore e.g. the poor quality of academic institutions and even the course content of the degrees. Anyways, I just had to touch on this a bit, let me now get into entrepreneurs who became successful without degrees.
Richard Branson is the CEO and founder of the Virgin Group. The Virgin Group rakes in at least US$20 billion annually. His net worth is around US$4.5 billion. Richard Branson only attended a little bit of high school. He never went to college or any university. He is known to have been a poor performer in school.
As most of you know, he is the CEO and co-founder of Facebook. He started Facebook around 16 years ago after having dropped out of Harvard. Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth stands at roughly US$100 billion. Facebook is worth over half a trillion US dollars.
Most of you have heard of Dell Computers or probably even use a Dell computer. The man behind that brand is Michael Dell who attended the University of Texas for a short while. Michael Dell’s net worth now stands at US$30 billion.
If you know of Twitter you probably only know of Jack Dorsey. Well, Evans Williams is the co-founder of Twitter. He attended the University of Nebraska but only for 18 months and dropped out. Evans Williams’ net worth is now over US$2 billion.
This is a notable personality when it comes to billionaires on this earth. Bill Gates attended Harvard which he left 45 years ago to pursue his Microsoft journey. Today Bill Gates has a net worth of over US$100 billion.
With the surge in web development nowadays you probably have heard of WordPress. With WordPress, you can develop websites without any coding background. The founder is Matt Mullenweg who only attended the University of Houston for a short while and left. His current net worth is US$400 million.
Unlike most entrepreneurs who at least went to college or university for a bit, David Karp dropped out of high school. This was large because he started coding at a tender of 11. This formed the basis that saw him starting Tumblr 13 years ago. His net worth currently stands at US$200 million.
When it comes to online music streaming and sales then most of you have heard of Spotify. Spotify is so reputable that the global weight of a song is usually measured by whether or not it is on Spotify. Daniel Ek enrolled for a degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. He was only there for 2 months and decided to drop out. Daniel Ek’s net worth is US$4 billion.
Steve Jobs founded Apple which is now a global tech titan. As he mentioned during a commencement speech he was not enjoying the college experience. He only attended Reed College for just a single semester and spent the rest of his short time there attending classes that he found interesting. He never got to complete anything at Reed and went to start Apple 44 years ago. Steve Jobs passed away on the 5th of October in 2011. The net worth of Apple today is now at least US$2 trillion.
These are some of the entrepreneurs who became successful without degrees. Does that then mean you should not pursue an academic degree? Well, the answer is not as black and white as most would want to put it. Something is interesting that Bill Gates said, “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success”. That coming from a billionaire college dropout means a lot. Bill Gates has said several things over the years that show his pro-education standpoint.