14 billionaire CEOs without a college degree

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It seems as though having a college education these days doesn't even set you apart from the rest -- it just puts you on the same playing field.

Between that and the climbing cost of tuition each year, aspiring entrepreneurs and start-up hopefuls are considering another option altogether: not pursuing a college degree at all.

SEE ALSO: Parents are saving more than ever for college — and it's still not enough

Though controversial, it's an option to consider in an era where the right connections, funding and work ethic can land the average Joe at the forefront of his own company overnight.

Just take these CEOs for example.

As founders and leaders of some of the most notable companies in the world (Facebook and Dell sound familiar?), these businessmen rose to the top and conquered their own empires -- all without a college degree.

Here are 14 CEOs who never graduated college:

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14 CEOs without a college degree
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14 CEOs without a college degree

Richard Branson
CEO of Virgin Group

Photo credit: Reuters

Bill Gates
Former CEO of Microsoft

Photo credit: Reuters

Micky Arison
CEO of Carnival Corporation

Photo credit: Reuters

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO of Facebook

Photo credit: Reuters

Barry Diller
CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp

Photo credit: Getty

Robert Pittman
CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc

Photo credit: Getty

Richard Schulze
Former CEO of Best Buy

Photo credit: Getty

John Tague
CEO of Hertz Global Holdings

Photo credit: Getty

Ralph Lauren 
Former CEO of Polo Ralph Lauren

Photo credit: Reuters

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Whether they started school and dropped out or began as entrepreneurs in their teen years (with no intention of ever attending a University) these CEOs are proof that success doesn't have to be accompanied by a degree.

Now, check out these must-read books written by top CEOs:

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Books by CEOs
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Books by CEOs
“Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time” by Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)

Buy it here

Photo: Reuters

“Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” by Yvon Chouinard (Founder and former CEO of Patagonia)

Buy it here

Photo: Getty

“Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy” by Bill Gates (Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft)

Buy it here

Photo: Reuters

“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder of Opsware and Andreessen Horowitz)

Buy it here

Photo: Getty

“Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To-Book” by Jack Welch (Former CEO of General Electric)

Buy it here

Photo: Getty
 

“#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso (Founder of Nasty Gal)

Buy it here

Photo: Reuters

“My Years with General Motors” by Alfred Sloan (Former CEO of General Motors)

Buy it here

Photo: Getty

“Sam Walton: Made in America” by Sam Walton (Founder of WalMart)

Buy it here

Photo: Getty

“Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos)

Buy it here

Photo: Getty

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More on AOL.com:
5 companies that should consider kicking their CEOs to the curb
11 top-rated online college courses you can take for free
The 13 colleges with the most billionaire alumni

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