11 wildly successful people who never went to college

For some, college wasn’t necessary. Anna Wintour pictured. Mike Coppola / Getty Images
  • Do you need to attend college to be successful?
  • The FBI recently charged dozens of people for paying a college-admissions consultant to help their kids get into elite universities.
  • But the 11 people below – including Michele Ferrero and Li Ka-Shing – never pursued higher education.

The FBI has charged dozens of people – including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin – in a college-admissions scheme. Thirty-three parents are accused of paying a college-admissions consultant to help their kids get into elite universities.

The idea that these parents may have committed a crime to help their kids succeed got us thinking: Is a college education even necessary to achieve success?

Ask the 11 people below – which include billionaires and real-estate moguls – and they might say no. As it turns out, none of them ever enrolled in a college course.

Check out the list and see if your perspective on the value of higher education changes.

Leonardo Del Vecchio


At age 25, Leonardo Del Vecchio founded eyewear maker Luxottica, which recently merged with French ophthalmic optics company Essilor.

The multibillionaire octogenarian paid his way through design school by apprenticing at a car and eyewear-parts factory in his teens, according to Forbes.

Savitri Jindal


Jindal is the chairperson of the Jindal Group and the widow of Om Prakash Jindal, the conglomerate company’s founder. The businesses in its portfolio include JSW Steel, JSW Energy, JSW Infrastructure, and Jindal Steel & Power.

Michele Ferrero


Before the Italian chocolate manufacturer passed away in 2015, he was listed on Forbes’ billionaires list as the 30th richest person in the world, Business Insider’s Tanza Loudenback reported.

Ferrero left his fortune to his family; his son, Giovanni, is now CEO of the Ferrero Group.

Lee Shau Kee


Lee is the founder of Henderson Land Development, a publicly traded real estate conglomerate based in Hong Kong that had $US46 billion worth of assets in 2017, according to Bloomberg.

But Lee’s family was so poor when he was growing up that they could afford to eat meat or fish just twice a month, according to Forbes.

Anna Wintour


The inspiration for Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” is said to be Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue for 30 years. One of her early stints in fashion was a job at London clothing store Biba when she was 15 years old.

Li Ka-Shing

Li Ka-Shing – or “Superman, as he’s been nicknamed” – retired from running CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings in 2018.

His current net worth is $US31.7 billion.

Ka-Shing has an incredible rags-to-riches tale. As Business Insider’s Harrison Jacobs reported, after his family fled to Hong Kong from southern China during WWII, Ka-Shing’s father died of tuberculosis. Ka-Shing had to leave school before age 16 to work in a plastics factory.

Ingvar Kamprad

The late billionaire founder of IKEA was entirely self-made. As Business Insider’s Loudenback reported, Kamprad was entrepreneurial from a young age: He started selling matches at age 5.

Kamprad launched IKEA using money his father had given him to reward him for his academic achievement in primary school despite his dyslexia.

Liliane Bettencourt


Before she passed away in 2017, Bettencourt was ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in the world. Bettencourt was an heiress to the L’Oreal fortune, and her estimated net worth was about $US45 billion, The Washington Post reported.

Karl Albrecht

Albrecht and his brother, Theodor, turned their mother’s corner store in Essen, Germany, into the Aldi supermarket chain.

As Business Insider previously reported, the Albrechts – both deceased – were intensely private. According to Forbes, Albrecht had a net worth of $US25 billion in 2014.

Christy Walton

The Waltons, who descend from Walmart founder Sam Walton, are the richest family in the world. Christy Walton’s net worth,according to Forbes, is $US7.4 billion. She inherited the wealth when her husband, John Walton, died in a plane crash in 2005.

Amancio Ortega

Ortega is the founder of clothing retailer Zara and the sixth-richest person in the world, according to Forbes. His net worth is estimated to be $US66.6 billion.