Yale University president (1963 – 1977) Kingman Brewster famously declared his fondness for all his students: The A students would return as professors, the B students would become supreme court justices, and the C students would come back to be donors. He didn’t mention dropouts—obviously because they didn’t stick around. Or maybe because that was before Microsoft and Apple.
Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College within the first year; Bill Gates too, at Harvard, in the early 1970s. But they hung around another year or so on campus, dropping in on classes that interested them. Jobs studied calligraphy to which he credited the MAC typography—later adopted by Microsoft—with multiple typefaces, and ‘proportionally spaced fonts’. Gates stayed for the intellectual stimulation and wrote his first software program at Harvard. They mentioned these in their respective commencement speeches, Jobs at Stanford (2005) and Gates at Harvard (2007).
Do you have a favorite dropout success story – successes large or small and more than just fame and money?