A college degree can be an important gateway to employment, a career and a better standard of living. But a college degree does not equate to someone’s level of intelligence or talent. For those seeking the best workers or leaders, there is a plethora of intelligent, inventive people without degrees who should not be overlooked.
Here are examples of other superstars who did not complete college on their rise to the top:
– We all know the story of Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College. Since the days of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, many business leaders got their starts without the benefit of degrees, including Larry Ellison of Oracle, Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz of Facebook, Michael Dell of Dell Computers, Brian Dunn of Best Buy, Anna Wintour of Vogue, Barry Diller of IAC, John Mackey of Whole Foods, David Geffen, Ralph Lauren and Ted Turner.
– David Plouffe, senior advisor to President Barack Obama and architect of his innovative and historically unprecedented campaign, dropped out of the University of Delaware to work in politics (returning to complete his degree in 2010). President George W. Bush’s top adviser, Karl Rove, and John McCain’s 2008 campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, also lacked degrees.
The point of this list is not to disparage higher education — it is still the best pathway to success. But imagine if venture capitalists had denied Steve Jobs or Bill Gates support because their resumes lacked a diploma.
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