Did Elon Musk Graduate from High School?
Elon Musk is a global icon, renowned for making revolutionary technologies. But just how much education does Musk have? To answer this question, it’s important to know his educational background.
Musk was born on June 28th, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa, to a Canadian mother and South African father. He moved to Canada at 17 and he attended Queen’s University, however didn’t graduate. Did he graduate from high school? The answer is yes. He graduated from Pretoria Boys High School located in Pretoria, the capital of South
Africa. After his graduation in 1989, Elon Musk attended two universities, Stanford and Queen’s University however he dropped out of both.
Though Musk didn’t complete college, he followed an intense self-directed path of learning which prepared him for the successes he achieved. According to an article by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Musk taught himself computer programming and even read multiple books on the subject. Consequently, Musk established and ran several firms such as Zip2, PayPal and SpaceX.
Musk’s ability to turn his educational journey into a success story is possible because the tech-industry does not rely heavily on college degrees to determine the level of expertise. Instead, it relies heavily on coding experience and the robustness of products developed from this coding. Because of his expertise in coding, Musk’s unfinished university degrees did not stop him from becoming the billionaire he is today.
Furthermore, experts believe that having a traditional university education should not be the only indication of success. According to an article on Fox News, creativity and innovation are more important and it is possible to teach ones self according to their interests through platforms such as YouTube, quora and blogs.
In 2017, the Open University conducted a poll to the general public to determine if undergraduate degrees are necessary to obtain a successful career. 81 per cent of respondents in their twenties said that college degrees are not necessary to be successful.
From this research it can be argued that having a college degree is not a prerequisite for success, and that Musk’s example reflects this phenomenon. Despite not graduating from college, Musk has achieved material and technological successes that continue to impact and benefit the world.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is another example of an entrepreneur who achieves high respects from entrepreneurs and society. Despite not graduating from college, Dorsey was able to able to build one of the world’s most popular social networks. Dorsey was able to do this by utilizing a team of talented engineers, which he recruited and managed.
The determination and strong will of Musk and Dorsey is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit, which is not inhibited by formal qualifications or educational degrees.
This is certainly highlighted through recent studies into the success rate of entrepreneurs today. According to an article by the World Economic Forum, approximately six percent of successful entrepreneurs do not have a college degree. This indicates how a college degree is not pre-requisite for success and it highlights how individuals such as Musk can still pursue their dreams even without such formal qualifications.
It is important to recognise that formal education does not play an integral role in success for everyone. Alternative routes, such as informal education and boot camps, can also lead to success. But there is no ‘one size fits all’ route to success and some individuals may find formal education more suitable.
Jack Patterson, a venture partner at VC firm, said in an article by the International Business Times how he “never saw formal education as a success criterion until I became involved in big tech companies.” Patterson believes that formal education is required if you want to climb the traditional career ladder quickly, however informal education can also lead to success.
Musk and Dorsey’s example highlights that success does not have to come from an accredited college degree. But such success will require the determination, perseverance and drive to achieve success. Technical acumen is also a requirement in a highly competitive industry.
Formal education may form part of a good life, but it is not always necessary for a successful career. Governments often encourage alternative routes to success and one of these alternative routes endorsed by government bodies is the apprentice scheme.
The United Kingdom’s government supports the national apprentice scheme, with their website stating how “an apprenticeship is a great way to get the skills and experience employers are looking for”. This is reflected in the rise of apprentices in the country, with 8 GBP in every 10 GBP being money used to fund apprenticeships.
Alternative routes are important as it enables non-traditional and non-university educated individuals to realise their goals and ambitions. Apprenticeships can be adapted to serve the goals of an individual based on their interests and technical acumen.
Analysts observe that the success of entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Dorsey indicate that individuals can become successful without accreditation from a tertiary institution. However, this does not mean that any individual can enter into the technology industry and expect to become successful.
The role of coding and technical acumen is important in the technology industry, which requires subject-specific skills that can be developed through both alternative and formal educational programmes.
Such programmes can provide applicants with both theoretical and practical experience. This enables applicants to maximize their potential and provides them with the necessary experience to apply for positions in in the technology industry.
Self-belief is key to success, and this was no different for Elon Musk. In an article by Venture Beat, Musk said he “once decided not to go to college and just sort of chance it”. Musk’s incredible successes are likely due to his self-belief and willingness to chase his own path to success.
Successful entrepreneurs also tend to exhibit forward thinking and risk taking. A study by the Entrepreneurship Research Journal found that successful entrepreneurs are more likely to take risks, take up challenges and be willing to take risks to achieve their goals. By taking these risks, entrepreneurs can attempt to gain themselves a competitive edge over competitors.
It is important to note that most governments around the world realise the potential of alternative routes to education. Government schemes have been put in place to facilitate the application of alternative educational opportunities
For example, the Canadian Governments investment in the programs such as the Canada Job’s Grant has been seen to encourage employers to hire individuals with alternative qualifications. This grant provides a grant to employers who provide training to eligible candidates who do not possess a university qualification.
Alternative qualifications and non-traditional methods are being more broadly accepted in the tech industry, evidence of this is demonstrated through the rise of the apprenticeship scheme in the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, the rise of online courses and the emphasis on technical acumen in the technology industry enable non-university educated individuals to break into the industry.
Analysis and Insights
From the data it is clear that having an accredited college degree is not a prerequisite for success. Instead, creativity, self-belief and determination are the main drivers of success in this age of technology.
Nevertheless, formal education and alternative routes can both come with potential benefits but it is important to choose the best option for the individual and their aspirations. In the case of Elon Musk, his ambition and innovative vision enabled him to become one of the biggest entrepreneurs in history, despite his lack of a college degree.
It is increasingly important to recognise alternative routes as it gives individuals of all backgrounds and educational qualifications the opportunity to reach their aspirations.