Article will continue after advertisement

Earlier this week, up-and-coming actor and rapper Jaden Smith used his celebrity status to take on the education system. He stirred up controversy by tweeting “school is the tool to brainwash the youth” and “if everybody dropped out of school we would have a much more intelligent society.” While 15-year-old Smith should by no means be considered a leading education expert, the son of Hollywood’s Fresh Prince does raise an interesting question: Do you need to graduate college to be happy and successful?

After a quick scan of Forbes’ list of the wealthiest Americans, it would appear not necessarily. Eighty-nine of the 400 people listed did not graduate college. Of the 20 youngest billionaires, seven of them do not have a college diploma. Three of the 10 newcomers on the list never donned the cap and gown. So, how did they get where they are without a complete education?

Several of those listed, including energy-pipeline executive Scott Duncan and Christy Walton of Wal-Mart, inherited their wealth from parents or spouses. Others decided to focus on their blossoming career aspirations rather than school. Sheldon Adelson, who dropped out of City College of New York, started a candy-vending-machine business when he was 16-years-old. He is now the Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and the 12th wealthiest person in America.

English: Photo of Sheldon Adelson, chairman of...
English: Photo of Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands and Hong Kong-listed subsidiary Sands China. Photo taken 19 June 2010 in Hong Kong at a press conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel, following China Sands AGM. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Larry Ellison wasn’t a big fan of college either. He dropped out of not one, but two universities. He later went on to co-found an enterprise software company called Oracle Corporation and is the third richest man in America behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

English: Larry Ellison at Oracle OpenWorld
English: Larry Ellison at Oracle OpenWorld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other notables among the Forbes 400 who didn’t graduate college include Dell chairman and CEO Michael Dell, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and music-sharing pioneer Sean Parker.

Richard Thompson, Rare Staff |