Proof? Formal Education Is Overvalued |

Proof? Formal Education Is Overvalued

There has been a back and forth going on for years between those that believe that formal education is one of the greatest keys to success and those that our proud to point out all the exceptions to the rule.

Let’s look at an interesting fact:

90% of CEOs heading America’s top 500 companies didn’t graduate from Ivy league schools, that’s according to an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Any College Will do”. The Canadian pattern is likely much the same.

VentureBeat summarized it nicely by saying:

“…the majority of chief executives at the most successful companies — like Intel chief executive and University of San Francisco grad Paul Otellini, and Costco chief executive and San Diego City College grad James Sinegal — were not Ivy League grads.”

Okay, those examples give some cred to the idea that you don’t have to graduate from the best schools. But what about graduating at all?

Here are 7 people you may have heard of before that didn’t graduate from college/university and went on to run ‘successful’ companies:

  • Bill Gates
  • David Oreck
  • Phillip Ruffin
  • Paul Allen
  • Richard Branson
  • Felix Dennis
  • Michael Dell

Thoughts anyone?

  • Janice

    I have been saying this for years, so it is really satisfying to see this posting and hear names of very successful CEO’s that did not have formal education! I went back to school when I was in my mid 30’s to obtain a marketing diploma at my local community college. I was a single mother of three small boys, so without saying the obvious this was a difficult feat. I worked hard and graduated obtaining my “diploma”. My marketing diploma did gain me a good job but only after 4 years of working in jobs below my education and experience. Finally I obtained my dream marketing job and had a satisfying 9 years in this field. Now at the age of 53 I find myself out of work, but it looks like again education is holding me back. All the positions in my field require university. Frustrating at the least that I find myself starting at the bottom again. All this in the name of education. Well I know that I can outdo any person coming out of university. I am intellegent, teachable, a team player, analytical, multi-tasker, loyal, dedicated, and will give back any employer 150% of thier investment. I believe that the university / post education requirements are another way for corporate north America to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Sad.

  • Pauline O’Malley

    It’s a generational phenomenon. Today 82% of all students in Canada attend a post secondary institution within 3 years of graduating highschool.

    Overall university enrolment increased 3.7 per cent over last year and 57 per cent from 1995, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada reported. There were 898,000 full-time university students registered in Fall 2010.

    However, university graduates represent about a quarter of the working population but are about 40 per cent of the tax base, said association president Paul Davidson.*

    According to the US Department of Labor, in October of 2009, over 70% or high school graduates were enrolled in some form of college. This number has seen a huge increase since the US Department of Labor began keeping statistics in the late 50′s. The previous year saw an all time high of college student enrollments. In October of 2008, nearly 40% of all people between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled in college, either 2-year or 4-year programs.

    In the last two decades, college student enrollment has increased by substantial jumps. Between the years 1987 and 1997 enrollment in degree universities increased by 14%. The jump between the next ten years, however, was even greater. In degree-earning universities, there was an increase of 26% in enrollment. That jump clearly shows that the trend toward more college attending individuals is going up by greater and greater numbers, regardless of what little dips happen from time to time.**