6 College Dropouts Who Made Millions

Before I go on, I want to make sure we make this clear: I am in no way advocating that anyone drop out of college.

I am a  strong believer in the value of a college education, both in its contribution to personal development and to future success. And in monetary terms, the numbers bear us out: People who go to college, in general, go on to earn more money than those who don’t.

A 2002 U.S. Census, for example, found that someone with a bachelor’s degree earns, on average, over $20,000 more a year and nearly $1 million more over her or his lifetime than a high school graduate.

But then there are those few exceptions who defy convention, dropping out of college or graduate school and becoming gazillionaires anyway.

While I’m not in favor of dropping out of college, I do like a good story, and here I have a chance to tell five of them.

So here are the flukes, the statistical freaks, the six wayward college dropouts who went on to find computer-geek fame and make multibillion-dollar fortunes on some of the most innovative technology platforms of the last 20 years.

1) Bill Gates, Microsoft

Possibly the most world-renowned example of post-dropout success, Bill Gates made the bold decision to leave Harvard his junior year, in 1977. Long before Windows became a worldwide rampant technology, contested monopoly, and household name, Gates was just a slacker college student.

“I had this terrible habit of not ever attending classes,” Gates said.

Gates left Harvard to devote his time to what would later become the world’s largest software company in Microsoft, a venture he had started in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen.

Now 53, Gates is worth an estimated $50 billion. Forbes has ranked Gates as the richest man in the world every year for over a decade, and Gates has given millions to various philanthropic causes.

The foundation he and his wife created in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has embarked on what some are calling the most ambitious charitable project in history, with an endowment from the Gates’ of more than $28.8 billion (as of January 2005) earmarked for global health and learning initiatives.

2) Steve Jobs, Apple

Just eight months older than Gates and the father of the Mac, that technological nemesis to Gates’ Windows, Steve Jobs followed a similar path to post-dropout mega-riches.

Jobs’ biological parents were dead-set on his getting a college education, and before Jobs was adopted, his adoptive parents had to promise that they would send him to college.

In the fall of 1973, Jobs’ adoptive parents spent their life savings to send him to Reed College in Oregon, where Jobs found the mandatory college courses pointless and uninspiring.

As he told Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005 in his commencement address, “After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.”

Although he formally dropped out of Reed, Jobs hung around the campus for another year, showing up only at the classes that piqued his interest.

Jobs got his first job with Atari in 1974 and then in 1976 co-founded Apple Computer with his high-school friend, Steve Wozniak.

Jobs was ranked 49th in the Forbes 400 Richest Americans of 2006 list and has a current estimated net worth of over $5 billion.

With the trendsetting family of iPods and iPhones, sleek laptops and desktops, intuitive and user-friendly apps, and a series of visually stunning OS X operating systems, Apple continually sets the industry benchmark for innovations in hardware design, user interfaces, and digital entertainment.

3) Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

With a net worth estimated at $1.5 billion and believed by some analysts to be the country’s wealthiest man younger than 25, Mark Zuckerberg, like Gates, is a Harvard dropout.

After launching Facebook school-wide from his dorm room at Harvard in February 2004, Zuckerberg began devoting more and more time to his program, gradually spreading it to other schools.

By that summer, Zuckerberg and his roommate Dustin Moskovitz had released Facebook to nearly 30 schools, and the website was growing too popular to be run part-time. Like Gates before him, Zuckerberg dropped out to make his technology start-up his sole focus.

Since then, Zuckerberg has received (and turned down) a $900 million buyout offer from Yahoo and pushed Facebook toward overshadowing MySpace as the most popular and fastest growing social networking site in the U.S.

Only 23, he’s Facebook’s CEO and retains control of the company.

4) Shawn Fanning, Napster

Widely known as the man who delivered peer-to-peer file sharing to the masses, Fanning is the mastermind behind Napster, the first-of-its-kind music-sharing application.

In the spring of 1999, as a 19-year-old freshman at Northeastern University in Boston, Fanning wrote a simple program that would allow users to search for and share music files over a peer-to-peer network.

The test version of Fanning’s program was a viral hit, downloaded by thousands of users and with traffic quickly outstripping Napster’s capacity. By the fall of that year. Fanning decided to drop out of school to move to Silicon Valley.

Although Napster drew the enmity — as well as the many-headed legal team — of the Recording Industry Association of America and of member band Metallica, in particular, for allowing users to illegally download free music, Napster forever changed the entertainment industry, forcing it to contend with the advent of digital media.

Fanning resigned from Napster in 2002 and went on to found SNOCAP, another music-sharing platform designed to let users access music inexpensively and legally.

5) Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google

Larry Page and Sergey Brin were busy cooking up Google while they were still aspiring Ph.D. students in the computer science program at Stanford. The pair later went on leave from the Ph.D. program to make Google their primary focus.

Since its launch in 1998, Google has become the world’s dominant online search engine, a provider of popular free e-mail and Web tools, a cutting-edge innovator, a highly sought-after employer, and a profitable public company with stock prices reaching almost $750 a share at their recent peak.

Both just 33 years old, Page and Brin are now billionaires with net worths of about $13 billion each, ranked 27th and 26th on the Forbes World’s Richest People of 2006 list, and still pushing the Google monolith and fortune-making machine forward.

courtesy:  NextStudent.

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13 Free Online Sources to Help You Through School

Whether you’re struggling with a particular class or just want to expand what you know, these 13 sites can give you a library’s worth of information right from your laptop.

1. U.C. Berkeley Webcasts

Get podcasts and webcasts of current and archived courses at the University of California, Berkeley, and both live and on-demand webcasts of notable appearances, campus events, and prominent speakers and lectures.

2. MIT Open Courseware

Choose from over 1,700 courses spanning MIT’s entire curriculum, and download free lecture notes, exams, problem sets, labs, video lectures, video demonstrations, and more.

3. Wikipedia

Almost every significant event, person, place and thing has a page on the Wiki. Just remember that Wikipedia is a user-generated and user-monitored site, so what you’re reading may not necessarily have passed a thorough review for accuracy. Wikipedia’s a great place to start when you want to know more about pretty much anything, but you may not want to rely on it as the main reference source for your term paper.

4. Podcast Alley

A directory of over 36,000 podcasts, Podcast Alley lets you search for podcasts by key words or by category. Find hundreds of language-learning choices in the Education section, Mac Attack weekly tips and tricks for your Mac in the Technology section, or The Naked Scientists’ plain-English answers to your science questions in the Science & Medicine section.

5. YouTube

Sure, you can kill time—and brain cells—watching Britney Spears going down in flames at this year’s VMAs, or witness what happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. But you can also find an introduction to calculus functions, Arabic language lessons, and a series on how to create fire effects in Photoshop. Rely on other viewers’ ratings to help you filter out the YouTube junk from the truly useful.

6. Education Index

The Education Index puts a huge database of educational websites at your fingertips. Simply click on a subject like archaeology, political science, or military technologies, and instantly get a list of links to sites both general and specialized that hold a wealth of information.

7. HowStuffWorks

From the light bulb to a rocket engine, HowStuffWorks breaks down how almost anything works with diagrams and easy-to-follow explanations. Don’t have an engineering streak in you? Check out “How the Batmobile Works,” “11 Stupid Legal Warnings,” or “What if everybody in the United States flushed the toilet at the same time?” No matter what you’re wondering, HowStuffWorks probably has an answer.

8. The History Channel

Surf through video galleries, timelines, maps, celebrated speeches, significant moments, and “This Day in History.” Enter in your birthday, and learn what’s happened throughout the years on the month and day you were born.

9. Dr. Math’s Math Forum

The Dr. Math forum answers thousands of common math questions, from elementary school to college level problems. Users submit their questions to the forum, and Dr. Math will post a response. If you’re having trouble in math class or with a problem set, it can help to read through old posts on the subject—chances are someone else has had the exact same problem you’re having.

10. Science

Not just for science geeks, the online version of the popular Science magazine offers thought-provoking and easy-to-read articles on everything from advances in neuroscience and astronomy to the latest in HIV research to “did you know” conversation starters, like why it makes evolutionary sense for certain animals to eat their young or why broccoli rubbed on your skin can help prevent sunburn damage.

11. Google News

Why pick and choose between news websites when you can harness the power and variety of all of them? Google News is a news aggregator that pulls all the top stories from thousands of news sites. You can use the power of Google search to find specific news items, browse standard categories like Health, Entertainment, and Top Stories, or personalize your Google News homepage and add custom categories of your own based on key words you choose.

12. www.chemistry.about.com

Articles, diagrams, walkthroughs and Q&As at About.com cover both the chemistry basics for new students and more specialized questions for more advanced students.

13. Education Arcade

Home to educational video and trivia games suited for middle school to college students, Education Arcade is entertainment that works your brain. In one of their augmented reality games, you can use GPS-enabled handheld computers to interview virtual characters and conduct large-scale environmental analysis to try to uncover the source of a simulated toxic spill.

4 Cheap Brand-Name Laptops!

A new laptop for college doesn’t need to cost you $1,500. Don’t let the flashy ads and giant headlines fool you: You don’t need 4GB of RAM or a 2.4GHz dual-core processor to handle everything you need to do for class, even if you want to be able to download a video or blast your master playlist at the same time.

Save your money for food and rent; you can get all the college capability you need and all the digital entertainment center you want without the steep price tag.

Here’s a list of six relatively inexpensive yet powerful laptops from all the big-name manufacturers. Keep in mind that these come straight from the manufacturer’s website and can be found even cheaper elsewhere!

1) Dell Inspiron 15

Starting Price: $399*

click image for specific specs

This modest laptop packs all the processing power and entertainment capability most students will need all in an awesome outer shell! With an Intel® Celeron® 900 (1MB cache/2.20GHz/800Mhz FSB)processor,  2 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive,  Windows Vista pre-installed, a 15-inch display, and a CD burner. With its integrated wireless network card, the Inspiron comes ready to jump on your school’s wireless network. Best of all, you can make this laptop yours for monthly payments as low as $15.

Avg Customer Rating 	4.3 of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4.3 of 5

2) Compaq Presario CQ60

Starting Price: $399.99*

Click image for more info

Click image for more info

Think of this bargain laptop as “the little computer that could.” It isn’t quite as powerful as its HP Pavilion cousin, but with a 2.1GHz Intel Pentium dual-core mobile processor, a healthy 3072MBMB RAM plus 250GB hard drive with built-in protection, and built-in wireless card and mic/webcam, this Presario is more than enough for the average student’s needs. And $15 a month is all you’ll need to take it home.

Avg Customer Rating 4 out of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4 out of 5

3) HP G60t

Starting Price: $499.99*

click image for more info

click image for more info

I am a proud owner of a HP laptop and I ooze nothing but praise for this brand, as I have put my laptop through the worst (coffee spills, drops, random coaster usage) and yet it has never failed me…not once! For a slightly higher price tag than the Presario, this laptop from HP offers an even better educational bang for your buck. With an Intel Pentium dual-core mobile processor cruising at a speed of 1.6GHz (with the option of upgrading up to a blazing 2.50GHz), a full 1GB RAM, a 15.4-inch display, built-in wireless, and a FireWire port plus 3 USB ports, built-in 5 digital media card reader, the Pavilion puts power and speed at your fingertips for about $20 a month.

Avg Customer Rating 4.6 out of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4.6 out of 5

4) Toshiba Satellite Pro A210-EZ2202X

Price: $670*

click image for more info

click image for more info

With the AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile processor on this Toshiba laptop, you’ll plow through your assignments at 1.9GHz. Your barrage of PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, 20-page term papers, embedded videos, and multi-tab Internet research won’t stand a chance against the Satellite’s arsenal of 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, DVD burner, 4 USB ports, 15.4-inch display, and built-in wireless — all yours for about $24 a month.

Avg Customer Rating 4.5 out of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4.5 out of 5

* Manufacturer prices as of October 14, 2009