It’s estimated that university graduates earn on average 60 per cent higher salaries than non-graduates. For that extra edge, the average American pays anywhere from US$40,000 to US$200,000 and above just for tuition alone. However there are many talented entrepreneurs, investors and innovators who have bucked that trend and gone on to bank 10-figure sums, without so much as an undergraduate degree to their name. Here are some legendary success stories. Ted Turner Ted Turner was expelled from Brown University for poor conduct when he was caught with a female student in his dorm room. He succeeded his father in his lucrative billboard business, Turner Outdoor Advertising, when he passed away in 1963. The business was worth US$1 million at the time. Turner used that as a base to achieve phenomenal things – such as revolutionising broadcast media with the establishment of 24-hour news through CNN. Forget Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates – life and business begins at 40 The former CEO is a staunch environmentalist and has devoted his assets to green causes which include dedicating his land in Texas to preserving the bison population and also creating the animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteer s. His net worth is around US$2 billion. Richard Li The younger son of Hong Kong’s richest billionaire, Li Ka-shing, Richard Li is the founder and chairman of PCCW as well as serving as chairman of Hong Kong Telecom and Pacific Century Group. His college education was embroiled in controversy when Li held a press conference in 2001 to admit that his company had for years falsely described him as a Stanford graduate on his online résumé. Li clarified, “I attended Stanford University for three years but I did not get the Stanford degree. I went to an investment bank to work. In all our documents submitted to the listed company, the stock exchange, I only said I received education there, I did not say graduation.” This setback obviously did not hold him back as Forbes estimates Li to be worth US$4.4 billion. Ralph Lauren This design magnate needs no introduction – his polo emblem on the left side of the collar is an international icon. He attended Baruch College, studying business, but dropped out after his second year and became a salesman for a tie company before designing his own line with no design experience. He started a full menswear line under the Polo label in 1968 that was sold exclusively at Bloomingdale’s, and the rest is history. He is worth US$5.7 billion today. Steve Jobs The parents of Apple’s co-founder could barely afford his college education and he dropped out of Reed College after one semester. He prolonged his college experience by sleeping on the floor of his friend’s dorm rooms and dropping in on calligraphy classes. Jobs attributed the fonts and typefaces of the Mac to his college course. Who are the 15 youngest billionaires in America, and which is the richest? He was a pioneer of the personal computer revolution along with his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. His net worth was reportedly around US$7 billion before his death. Michael Dell Another man with great conviction who started his business operating out of a dorm room is Michael Dell. As a freshmen, pre-med student at the University of Texas, Dell assembled and sold computer upgrade kits from his dorm room. He then applied for a vendor license so he would be eligible to bid on contracts offered by the state of Texas, and because of his low overheads operating out of his dorm he easily won the bid against his competitors. He dropped out of school with a strong conviction that direct manufacturer sales of PCs would overtake the retail model of the time, and in May 1984 started Dell Computer Corporation. He is now worth US$28.5 billion. Sheldon Adelson Adelson is a prolific businessman who famously started more than 50 enterprises and became a millionaire twice – losing it all before striking gold with the Las Vegas landmark Sands Hotel and Casino. He and his partners the spent US$1.5 billion to build the city’s mega resort hotel The Venetian, which opened in 1999. Why is Tony Robbins’ private jet called the ‘peak of private aviation’? The concept was exported to Macau in 2004, where Adelson developed a concentrated resort area now called the Cotai Strip in Macau. He attended City College of New York but did not graduate and according to Forbes his net worth is US$32.5 billion. Mark Zuckerberg Anyone who saw the hit film The Social Network knows how the CEO of Facebook had a great idea and ran with it, making him one of the first pioneers of social media, as well as a legend of Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in his second year to pursue his winning idea and it has obviously paid off. According to Forbes he is worth US$78.3 billion, making him the fourth richest person in the world. Bill Gates It’s hard to imagine that arguably one of the greatest visionaries of our time did not complete his Harvard degree. Identified as a mathematical genius at a young age, Gates wrote his first computer program in eighth grade. What was a leave of absence from college in 1975 turned into what would become Microsoft, a Fortune 500 company that had a valuation of more than US$1 trillion in April 2019. While Gates spends most of his time on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he is worth US$106.3 billion, making him the second richest person on the planet. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter . Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.