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The Top Billionaires Under Age 35 Prove That College is a Waste of Time

Wealth-X recently released their list of the thirty five youngest billionaires in the country. They also compiled statistics on all the billionaires, worldwide. If you ever want to get a full grasp of just how much of the world’s wealth is controlled by billionaires, check out Wealth-X’s site. It’s stunning. You will never feel more poor. (It's also best to try not to think about how these people control our entire political system, too.) 

Wealth-X has compiled some interesting stats, such as the fact that the three founders of Air BnB are worth three billion each. That’s insanity. We’ve all had a bad experience staying at a roach infested Marriott, but I don’t think anyone thought hotels were ripe to be disrupted to the tune of a startup getting a 25 billion valuation.

But, what I found most shocking about Wealth-X’s list was that 35% of all the billionaires in the world never graduated college. If you take away all the billionaires who inherited their wealth, it inches closer to 50%.

If almost half of the richest people on earth made do without a college degree, how do we justify telling generation after generation that they can only succeed if they go to a four year university? As the amount of student loan debt in the country continues to rise past the amount of housing debt, is it not time for a new paradigm to emerge?

Mark Zuckerberg would agree. He didn’t need a degree to start Facebook (NASDAQ: FB.) And while he is an example of a dropout that everyone knows about, he is just the tip of the iceberg. Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey started Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) without degrees. Sean Parker and Jan Koum both said “thanks but no thanks” to taking History 101 to fulfill some arbitrary core curriculum requirement and instead dropped out to start billion dollar companies. Elizabeth Holmes had no need for a degree when she left school to start Theranos, which is now worth 4.5 billion. The ultimate example is Gabe Newell, who dropped out of Harvard to start Valve and claims that all he learned at school was “how to drink beer while doing a headstand in the snow.” (I never once saw a kid do this in my four years at Harvard, but it sounds pretty awesome.)

So, while for some of these people college ended up being a worthwhile way to meet their co-founders, the actual nuts and bolts education didn’t serve much purpose. Maybe it’s time to start encouraging our kids to have an entrepreneurial spirit instead of going to school in the first place?