by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What does it take to become super rich in America? Do you actually need an Ivy League degree or an MBA from a top school? Does starring on a varsity team, being president of your fraternity or majoring in a particular subject help? Forbes collected data on as many Forbes 400 members as possible, asking them all these questions as well as grilling them on how they paid for college. All but ten responded.
While there are billionaires from all education backgrounds, most of the 400 got nothing more than an undergraduate degree. …
… While graduating from college was the clearest path to a 10-figure fortune, there are plenty of examples of people who bucked the trend and did just fine. This year’s Forbes 400 contains 45 college dropouts, including two of America’s four richest individuals, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg. Another 23 list members graduated from high school but never went onto college. And there are billionaires who made it to the top without even a high school degree — like Dole Foods CEO David Murdock and hair products billionaire Todd Christopher. Murdock, who is dyslexic, dropped out in ninth grade and worked at a gas station. He was later drafted into the Army in 1943. Christopher quit to join his family in the hair salon business and struck it rich selling hair care products to pay his rent.