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Blog: 50 reasons why you don’t need to attend an elite college

By Lynn O'Shaughnessy
The College Solution blog
Published August 3, 2012 

The 2012-2013 college admission season hasn’t even officially started, but I’ve already been hearing from parents who are stressed about paying for elite schools that are on their teenagers’ lists.

Some of these parents believe that they have an obligation to incur huge debt if their children get accepted into the most prestigious schools. Here’s my worst example:

Last spring a mom told me that she and her husband were going to borrow $200,000 to send their son to Cornell University because they considered getting into the Ivy League the ultimate prize. The teenager, however, could have attended an honors program at Stony Brook University without incurring any debt. I swear I’m not making this up!

It’s sheer nonsense to think that you must attend the schools huddled at the top of the college rankings to succeed in life. To help refute this stubborn myth, I thought I’d share a few names of some successful Americans who have done quite well without obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the likes of a Yale or a Harvard.

Where 50 Successful Americans Attended College

I could have spent days typing in the names of Americans who fit into this category, but  I think my random list is a respectable start.  I collected some of these names myself and got others from folks who visit my Facebook page , including someone who sent me a link to a USA Today list of the alma maters of a smattering of CEOs.

I’d love to hear your picks that I can add to this list. Please share them in the comment box below.
1.Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor/politician, University of Wisconsin-Superior
2.Gore Vidal, author, didn’t attend college
3.Milton Friedman, economist, Rutgers University
4.Arthur Blank, co-founder Home Depot, Babson College
5.Bruce Willis, actor, Montclair State University
6.Michael Pollan, author/environmentalist, Bennington College
7.Paula Abdul, singer, California State University, Northridge
8.Karl Rove, political strategist, University of Utah (didn’t graduate)
9.David Plouffe, President Obama’s senior advisor, University of Delaware
10.Brian Williams, broadcaster, Catholic and George Washington universities, (didn’t graduate)
11.Bernie Marcus, Home Depot founder, Rutgers University
12.Neil Armstrong, astronaut, Purdue University
13.Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, College of the Holy Cross
14.Millard S. Drexler, J. Crew CEO, University of Buffalo
15.Johnny Depp, actor, high school dropout
16.Stephen King, novelist, University of Maine
17.Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, Ball State University
18.Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita Brands, Southern Illinois University
19.Kate Spade, fashion designer, Arizona State University
20.Peggy Noonan, political commentator, Fairleigh Dickinson University
21.Barbara Boxer, US Senator, Brooklyn College
22.Phillip Anschutz, sports team owner, University of Kansas
23.David Marmet, director/Pulitzer Prize winner, Goddard College
24.Muriel Fox, co-founder of National Organization of Women, Rollins College
25.Jerry Seinfeld, comedian, Queens College
26.Steve Capus, NBC news president, Temple University
27.Steven Spielberg, director, California State University, Long Beach
28.David Edmondson, RadioShack CEO, Pacific Coast Baptist College
29.Mary Higgins Clark, author, Fordham University
30.Richard Ben-Veniste, Watergate prosecutor, Muhlenberg College
31.Oprah Winfrey, television personality, Tennessee State University
32.Sam Walton, Walmart founder, University of Missouri
33.Marcia McNutt, director of U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado College
34.John Glenn astronaut, Muskingum University
35.Michael Mulligan, Mapquest CEO, Wheeling Jesuit University
36.Jerry Greenfield, co-founder Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Oberlin College
37.Jerry Richardson, owner of Carolina Panthers, Wofford College
38.John Malkovich, actor, Eastern Illinois University
39.Rich Gotham, Boston Celtics president, Providence College
40.Robert Iger, Disney CEO, Ithaca College
41.John Hamm, actor, University of Missouri
42.Steve Carrell, actor, Denison University
43.Nancy Grace, legal commentator, Mercer University
44.Tim Russert, broadcaster, John Carroll University
45.Shelia Blair, former FDIC chair, University of Kansas
46.Howard Stern, radio personality, Boston University
47.Janet Robinson, New York Times CEO, Salve Regina College
48.Johnny Carson, comedian Millsaps College,
49.Bob Edwards, broadcaster, University of Louisville
50.Sandra Bullock, actress, East Carolina University