The Daily Caller Presents: The Top 16 Successful People Who Don’t Have College Degrees

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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College is becoming more of an excuse to get blackout drunk while denying the crippling debt coming in the mail after graduation, than a place to learn. And a lot of students and parents are wondering what the point of spending massive bags of cash is when there isn’t much of a return on the college investment.

The Daily Caller has found 16 of some of the most influential people in America who dropped out of college, and are all the better for it. These people prove that you don’t need a piece of paper from a university to live the American dream.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 4.10.04 PMConservative radio host Rush Limbaugh ditched the college life at Southeast Missouri State University after two semesters. Since dropping out to focus on his career, the man “with talent on loan from God” launched the biggest talk radio show in America and is estimated to have earned $66 million dollars.

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Everyone’s favorite self-deluded dimwit, Kanye West, was once a student at Chicago State University. The Yeezus rapper enrolled as an English student there where his mom was a professor. But after he turned 20, Kanye left school and released his debut album “The College Dropout”. Since then, the arrogant rapper has won 21 Grammys, released his own clothing lines, married curvy socialite Kim Kardashian and became one of the wealthiest men in America.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.59.34 PMLas Vegas Sands CEO and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson never graduated college, yet he got his first business license when he was just 12 years old. After a brief stint at the City College of New York, Adelson dropped out and created more than 50 businesses over his career, including casinos and an Israeli daily newspaper.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.35.17 PMThe world’s richest man, Bill Gates, dropped out of Harvard University in 1975 to co-found Microsoft. While this techie might still look like 14-year-old pasty teen, Gates is estimated to be worth $76 billion. Since he stepped down as Microsoft chairman, the well-heeled nerd spends his days as the co-chair at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



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After graduating from a Catholic high school, Lady Gaga took her crazed eccentricities to New York University’s equally looney performing arts school. Born Stefani Germanotta, 17-year-old Lady Gaga joined the Tisch School of Arts through an early admissions program, only to ditch the college life her sophomore year. Since then, Mother Monster has sold 27 million albums globally.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.43.35 PMTelevision host, commentator, author and conservative powerhouse Sean Hannity scrapped his college career after realizing he could make his way in the world without a degree. Dropping out of both Adelphi University and New York University, Hannity worked up from hosting local radio shows in various parts of America, to hosting wildly successful news and talk radio shows.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.12.31 PMWhole Foods founder John Mackey attended University of Texas at Austin, but never graduated. In 1980 Mackey co-created the Whole Foods Market. Today the grocery chain consists of 387 stores and $10 billion in revenue. Mackey is also a noted libertarian and strongly opposes Obamacare, calling it “fascism” in an NPR interview.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.37.30 PM Bored with college by his freshman year, Michael Dell spent most of his time at University of Texas at Austin selling computers to students, rather than studying. The Dell Inc. founder eventually dropped out, and by age 27 was CEO of the Fortune 500 company. Today this college dropout is worth $18.7 billion.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.38.25 PMArguably one of the greatest golfers of all time, Tiger Woods left Stanford University after two years. Even though the golfing horn dog won the NCAA individual gold championship and was an All-American during his time in college, Woods still decided he was better off in the real world. Since dropping out, he was won 14 major championships.


Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.38.59 PMSean Combs — aka P Diddy, Diddy, Diddy Dirty Money and Puff Daddy — was born in Harlem, N.Y., and dropped out of Howard University after two years. Since then, he’s released 27 different platinum albums, launched a clothing line, opened two restaurants and developed a vodka brand. His net worth is estimated at $700 million.

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously dropped out of Harvard his sophomore year to focus on growing the social media site. Originally starting Facebook just for Harvard students, people around the country soon became obsessed with the site. And today, the site’s cult following has grown to over a billion users around the world.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.41.02 PMWordPress powers more than 17 percent of websites, and was founded by college dropout Matt Mullenweg. Mullenweg dropped out of the University of Houston to work for various tech companies, and eventually launched Automattic, Inc., the business behind WordPress. Today, the 30-year-old entrepreneur has deep pockets estimated at $40 million.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.53.03 PMSean Parker founded file-sharing service Napster, served as the first president of Facebook, yet never enrolled in college. According to Forbes, Parker views his experience with Napster as, “Napster University—it was a crash course in ­intellectual property law, corporate ­finance, entrepreneurship and law school.” His net worth is currently estimated at over $2 billion.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.41.51 PMFamous restaurateur Wolfgang Puck never attended college, yet has been perfecting the art of food since he was 14. In 1973, Puck moved to the U.S. from Austria, and by 1982 founded his first award-winning restaurant, Spago. He has since become an American citizen, created restaurants around the world and earned multiple Michelin stars.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.32.21 PMLarry Ellison dropped out of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but this hasn’t stopped him from becoming the third wealthiest man in America, according to Forbes. After ditching the college life, Ellison founded enterprise software company Oracle. Today, Oracle has sales of almost $40 billion, allowing Ellison to buy a $110 million estate in California. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.42.31 PMDavid Geffen attended three colleges, but graduated none of them, even though he has a net worth of $6 billion. Geffen is a music executive who founded Dreamworks and Geffen Records and is now a part of Universal Music Group. (RELATED: The 52 Best Colleges In America PERIOD If You Consider Everything That Matters)


(Photo credits: Getty Images/Rush Limbaugh, Getty Images/Kanye West, Getty Images/Sheldon Adelson, Getty Images/Bill Gates, Getty Images/Lady Gaga, Getty Images/Sean Hannity, Getty Images/John Mackey, Getty Images/Michael Dell, Getty Images/Tiger Woods, Getty Images/Sean Combs, Getty Images/Mark Zuckerberg, Getty Images/Matt Mullenweg, Getty Images/Sean Parker, Getty Images/Wolfgang Puck, Getty Images/Larry Ellison, Getty Images/David Geffen)