In 2018, there were 2,208 billionaires in the world with a combined net worth of $9.1 trillion, according to Forbes. Here are five of them and their educational histories:
- Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT). Net worth $76 billion. Gates attended an exclusive private college prep school where he, along with other students, had access to a teleprinter and a General Electric computer. Gates began learning the computer language BASIC. One of his classmates was future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. While in high school, Gates wrote his first computer program, an application that allowed people to play tic tac toe against the machine. Gates was an excellent high school student. After graduation, he attended Harvard University for two years before dropping out. Soon after, he reunited with his high school computer buddy Paul Allen, and they started the company that would become Microsoft.
- Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican investor, and telecom CEO. Net worth $72 billion. Slim, who was the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013, is sometimes called the Warren Buffet of Mexico. Through his company Grupo Carso, he has massive holdings in many industries. He is also the CEO of Latin America’s largest mobile phone carrier. Slim’s father was a Lebanese immigrant who started with a dry goods store and branched out into real estate. Slim was put to work in the family business at a young age. He learned enough about business from his father that by age 12 he had already purchased shares in a Mexican bank. Slim graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a degree in civil engineering.
- Amancio Ortega, founder of Zara. Net worth $64 billion. Ortega is a Spanish fashion executive and founding chairman of Inditex fashion group, which includes international fast-fashion giant, Zara. Ortega grew up poor in a small town where his father was a railway worker. Ortega dropped out of school at age 14 to find a job and help his family. He found work with a local shirtmaker and that is where he started his education in fashion.
- Warren Buffet, businessman and investor. Net worth $58.2 billion. Now known as the Oracle of Omaha, Buffett was the son of a congressman and a precocious student. As a child and teen, he engaged in many side jobs and money-making schemes including delivering newspapers, selling magazines door-to-door, and buying and installing pinball machines at local businesses. At age 11, he had already bought his first securities. In high school, he was able to buy a farm. Buffett enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania at the age of sixteen to study business and finished his degree at the University of Nebraska. At 20 years old, he had already amassed $20,000 from his childhood business ventures. Buffett finished his formal education at Columbia University where he earned a master’s degree in economics. He is also fond of noting that he took a Dale Carnegie class in public speaking.
- Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle (ORCL). Net worth $48 billion. Ellison is the only billionaire on this list to drop out of not one, but two colleges. He enrolled at the University of Illinois but dropped out after two years. After spending time in California, Ellison returned to the Midwest and complete just one term at the University of Chicago, where he first became interested in computers. Ellison moved to California where he worked as a programmer and eventually started the company that would become Oracle.
What Education Do Billionaires Have?
Out of the Forbes list of the 400 richest people, 63 have just a high school diploma. These include Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates and Sean Parker. As Warren Buffett often says, "The best education you can get is investing in yourself. But that doesn't always mean college or university."