Study hard, go to school and get a good career. That's what our parents tell us. That's the proven path, right? Well, perhaps not always. Here are five individuals who took a different route and started their entrepreneurial journeys while still in school, if not before. These entrepreneurs are proof that your career doesn't necessarily have to wait until after graduation.
Billed as one of the most successful college dropouts, Bill Gates didn't even complete school before he hit the big-time with Microsoft. Having regularly appeared at the top of the Forbes rich list, there is no doubting Gate's success.
He enrolled in Harvard in the autumn of 1973, but left two years later to found the company that would go on to make him billions. Harvard University named Gates the most successful quitter of all time. Some 30 years after he was set to graduate, he finally got his degree when Harvard awarded him an honorary one in 2007. Gates' company, Microsoft, continues to be a dominate force within the home computer software market, and the company brings in profits in the region of $46 billion a year. It also helped Gates form the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation.
SEE: The 5 Wealthiest Private Foundations
Larry Page and Sergey Brin
You might not know their names, but I'm certain you'll know their company. Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded world-famous search engine 'Google' while still in college. The pair has become one of the most recognized corporate billionaire duos. These two first met at Stanford University in the 1990s while studying computer sciences. The pair developed an interest in search engines and created a system where search results would be listed by the popularity of the page. The software, initially called Backrub, eventually became the Google we all know and use today. The two dropped out of Stanford to work on the product, which I think we can agree paid off. However, Brin is still officially on leave from Stanford University.
Steve Wozniak turned his talent for electronics into a billion-dollar company, and it all started when he was at college. Wozniak was studying at the University of California in Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. That's where he met Steve Jobs, and the rest is history. While students, Wozniak and Jobs sold 'blue boxes,' illegal devices that allowed users to make free long distance calls. In 1976, Wozniak dropped out of college to pursue his interest in technology, and he and Jobs began work on what would become the first ever Apple computer. When Wozniak retired from Apple a few decades ago, he left with a sizable share and a net worth of over $45 million.
SEE: Microsoft Vs. Apple
No story on college entrepreneurs would be complete without a mention of Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. Now one of the richest men on the planet, Zuckerberg founded the social networking platform while he was a student at Harvard. In February 2004, from his dorm room, Zuckerberg and friends created 'The Facebook.' This site, which began as a private website for Harvard, quickly spread through academic institutions across the globe. Since then it has taken on a life of its own and Facebook was recently valued at a staggering $100 billion.
The Bottom Line
All these entrepreneurs started their companies while still in college. All of them have made their fortunes in the technology market, so perhaps there is a lesson in that. Having a good college education behind you is considered the starting point of a career, particularly in the current job market. However, you can do it a different way. So, who will the next dorm-room billionaire be? More importantly, what will he or she think of next?
SEE: 10 Successful Young Entrepreneurs