This article originally appeared and was published on AOL.com
It seems as though having a college education these days doesn’t even set you apart from the rest — it just puts you on the same playing field.
Between that and the climbing cost of tuition each year, aspiring entrepreneurs and start-up hopefuls are considering another option altogether: not pursuing a college degree at all.
Though controversial, it’s an option to consider in an era where the right connections, funding and work ethic can land the average Joe at the forefront of his own company overnight.
Just take these CEOs for example.
As founders and leaders of some of the most notable companies in the world (Facebook and Dell sound familiar?), these businessmen rose to the top and conquered their own empires — all without a college degree.
Here are 9 CEOs who never graduated college:
9. Richard Branson – CEO of Virgin Group
8. Bill Gates – Former CEO of Microsoft
7. Micky Arison – CEO of Carnival Corporation
6. Mark Zuckerberg – CEO of Facebook
5. Barry Diller – CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp
4. Robert Pittman – CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc
3. Richard Schulze – Former CEO of Best Buy
2. John Tague – CEO of Hertz Global Holdings
1. Ralph Lauren – Former CEO of Polo Ralph Lauren
Whether they started school and dropped out or began as entrepreneurs in their teen years (with no intention of ever attending a University) these CEOs are proof that success doesn’t have to be accompanied by a degree.