Microsoft-founder and billionaire Bill Gates, one of the best known college drop-outs in the world, advised students here that dropping out of college “is not a good idea”.
Gates, who is on a five university tour talking to students about the work done by his philanthropic organization Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said he later completed a few degrees through online courses.
“I don’t think dropping out (of college) is a good idea… I am glad I got two-and-a-half years of college. Now I have completed the equivalent of some number of degrees by online courses,” Gates told an audience of over 1700 students at the University of Chicago yesterday.
Gates had dropped out of Harvard after his second year to work on his start up company Microsoft, which he describes as “a very magic moment”.
He said he was enjoying his days at Harvard but joked that by dropping out he saved his father’s money.
“I would have had fun staying at Harvard. My dad was paying for everything, so I saved him a bunch of money,” he said.
Emphasising that “education is fundamental”, Gates advised students that unless they had a “very unique” idea they are keen to work on and are confident will materialize into something, they should not think of dropping out.
The university tour, which has taken him to Stanford, Harvard and MIT, is the first that Gates has undertaken to speak about his foundation after he left the day-to-day operations at Microsoft.
Such visits is a way to keep his promise to his father that he would return to college, Gates said.
“When I dropped out of college, I did tell my dad that I would go back to college. So I kind of do it one day at a time to work out this promise that I made to him,” he said.
Speaking on “how can we get the brightest minds to work on the world’s most important problems”, Gates said through dedication and an innovative spirit, students can aspire to help lower child death rates, improve access to quality education as well as join the search for environmentally friendly, inexpensive energy sources.
He pointed out that problems of the poorest countries was not on his mind when he was growing up but as he traveled around the world while at Microsoft, he learnt about broader issues and became aware of problems of poor nations.
“When I was young, I was not thinking about the poorest countries. I wish I had been more aware. I could have started sooner to use my voice and think about those things,” he said, adding that while the foundation has made progress “there is still so much to do”.