15 ultra-successful people who never graduated from college [SLIDESHOW]

College is obviously overpriced these days and college debt is getting out of hand. And while a handful of schools have cut tuition or, at least, instituted tuition freezes, most schools blithely continue raising prices.

More and more, college students and would-be college students are deciding that college just isn’t worth it.

Harvard University has concluded that the United States has the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world, Reuters reports.

Spiraling tuition definitely plays a role. Students who borrow money to pay for their undergraduate degrees now find themselves over $23,000 in debt on average. Other reasons for the high dropout rate include family and job responsibilities. The inability to manage the rigors of college is also a determining factor for some students.

Of course, the United States also has far and away the highest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world, according to the 2011 figures of the International Monetary Fund. Our GDP is nearly double the GDP of the next sovereign country, China, and it’s only a couple trillion lower than the combined GDP of the entire European Union, which is composed of all those countries that allegedly beat the United States like a drum in education year after year.

If you are a college dropout, if you never went, of if you are thinking about not going, take heart! This great country was practically built by people like you.

Here are 16 people who never graduated from college who did pretty well for themselves, thank you very much.

Click an image below for larger version.
  • Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College in Portland after a mere six months. However, he spent much of the next two years crashing in dorm rooms and dropping in on classes, including a calligraphy course that, Jobs said, was largely responsible for the Mac’s multitude of typefaces.
  • The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, invented, built and successfully flew the first aircraft. Both brothers attended high school, but neither received a diploma (though Wilbur allegedly should have).
  • Before Sean Combs was Puff Daddy, he was a business major at Howard University. He dropped out in 1989 and worked his way up through the management side of the recording industry, starting as a lowly intern. Combs is now worth an estimated $475 million.
  • George Washington commanded the Continental Army during the American Revolution, presided over the convention that produced the Constitution, and served as the first U.S. president. He had the equivalent of an elementary school education. Family connections landed his first job, as a county surveyor in Virginia.
  • Author, journalist and king of the terse sentence, Ernest Hemingway never bothered with college. He graduated high school in Oak Park, Ill., had a brief stint as a reporter in Kansas City, then became an ambulance driver in World War I.
  • Tiger Woods, lover of ladies and easily among the best golfers of all time, left Stanford after two years to turn professional. Woods was the highest-paid athlete in the world for several years, according to Forbes.
  • Jessica Simpson (estimated net worth: $100 million) is a rock star, movie star and clothing magnate. There’s also a perfume. She signed to Columbia Records when she was 16 years old. She dropped out of high school, though she did get her GED later.
  • Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.
  • Multibillionaire Michael Dell is the founder and CEO of Dell, Inc. One summer, selling Houston Post subscriptions, he exceeded the yearly incomes of his high school teachers by targeting newlyweds and new home buyers. Dell dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin at age 19 to sell custom-made computers.
  • Hoboken, New Jersey’s very own Frank Sinatra was reportedly expelled from high school for rowdy behavior, and never graduated. He managed to learn music by ear and worked as a riveter until he got his first show business break.
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was a prolific writer who penned, among much else, the quintessential American novel, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' He became a printer’s apprentice at age 12 and worked in several cities as a typesetter, educating himself in the evenings at public libraries.
  • Lady Gaga gained early admission to New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts but withdrew during the second semester of her sophomore year to focus on becoming an iconic pop star. Gaga is now worth some $150 million. Photo - Facebook/Lady Gaga
  • Andrew Carnegie emigrated to the United States from Scotland with his parents at age 13. He started his career as a factory worker, created U.S. Steel along the way, and ended up giving away a large chunk of his fortune. Photo - public domain
  • Bill Gates was the wealthiest person in the world every year except one from 1995 to 2009. He dropped out of Harvard to establish a software startup called Microsoft, and he never returned. Photo - World Economic Forum