3 Successful Female Entrepreneurs Say Do What They Did: Drop Out of College

A recent study featured in Business Insider by Nobel-laureate and UChicago professor James Heckman, shows that preschool actually has a higher Return On Investment rate than college. The article concludes that “for 40 years, it seems, we’ve been emphasizing college enrollment much more intensely than signing up for preschool and kindergarten” even though the extent of one’s early childhood education is a more accurate predictor of later success in life.

Now a college degree can pay off big time in the college market, especially in a recession but it seems with entrepreneurs, for some, a college degree is not necessarily an essential. Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr seems to even have a preference for college dropouts when she looks at startups for investing. She said:

Want to be an entrepreneur? Drop out of college.


Fred Wilson and I, on the way back from an Etsy board meeting, were talking about how many entrepreneurs had dropped out of college. Rob Kalin, Etsy’s founder, never finished college. Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey — the founders of Twitter — are not college graduates. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, is another dropout. And of course Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. As an angel investor, I’ve invested in two college dropout founders this month. What gives?


Last year, Peter Theil established the Thiel Fellowship, which gives college students under the age of 20 $100,000 and two years’ time to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas. But there was a catch: Thiel Fellows are required to drop out of college for the two years of the fellowship. Shaila Ittycheria of E[nstitute]– a two-year apprenticeship program for young adults – thinks getting a college degree isn’t necessary. Earlier this month The Grindstone interviewed 20 year old MySocialCloud CEO Stacy Ferriera, who dropped out of college to run her million dollar business.


But at the same time, we have to remember that the Zuckerbergs, Gates’s and Jobs’s of the world are the exception. Out of the 48 American tech billionaire on the Forbes 400, the majority of them were college grads.


But at the same time we are seeing people, especially entrepreneurs, succeed without college degrees. We talked to a few of these drop outs who said leaving the school was the best thing for their business.


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    • L.A.

      Thank you for this article!

    • http://twitter.com/Mompreneurmogul Lisa Cash Hanson

      Thank you so much for the feature- I am very excited for the future of women in business and really anyone with a dream to launch out. I hope this inspires many.

    • http://fromoceansdeep.com Diana Thompson

      Awesome inspiration here! Thank you ladies!

    • Joel

      Bethanie and her husband or some crooks they both have criminal records. Her husband is heavily involved in a lot of criminal activities. Mainly fraudulent activities .

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/bethanienonami/ Bethanie Nonami

        I am not sure where you are getting your information but please check the facts before you try to damage someone’s character online forever. People often judge people for decisions they have made in the past and often don’t know the circumstances around those decisions before they pass judgement.

        Have you ever made a mistake, even once? Or have you ever been judged unjustly? I hope you haven’t personally but sadly most of us have. I know in the internet age, we now have access to more than we ever imagined but to make claims such as against me personally is unfair in my opinion. I respect everyone’s opinion, even if I don’t agree with it.

        I appreciate your time and I am sure you made this comment with the best of intentions to help others but please consider the impact of your words on some people.
        I wish you the best, Bethanie