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Nine Presidents, No Degree

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Quick! Can you name the nine Presidents who did not graduate college? Hint: two of them are on Mount Rushmore. (Answer at the bottom of the post.)

While I was researching the study habits of the Founding Fathers last week, I became slightly discouraged. It seemed like every Founding Father had started off as a Boy Genius. Most of us can’t compare with being appointed as an Ambassador as an early adolescent, let alone being fluent in the Classical languages.

I had mentally lumped the Founding Fathers and the presidents together. But I was wrong. I discovered there have been nine presidents who never attended college or gotten their degree.

So how did they make it to the White House?

I discovered it was two things - curiosity and literacy.

Each one of these presidents knew their education had been limited - some of them with as little of one year of formal schooling! Each of them made the decision to own their education and take it beyond the classroom. They filled their libraries with great books. When they wanted to know something, they would go to an expert source. They knew an education could be gained without years in school. They studied law without going to law school. They had tutors and mentors - men that they trusted for information. In time, they became the experts.

Would any of them make it to the White House today? Probably not. Our information saturated society believes education must take place in the traditional classroom setting. Having a college degree makes candidates attractive. It makes anyone attractive. It’s essential.

But here’s the rub. You don’t ever have to step inside a lecture hall to be educated, no matter what the college admissions officer tells you. It isn’t daily attendance to lectures that make someone great. It’s the desire to learn, the curiosity that propels you to study, to know a subject deeply. When you combine that with practical life experience, you have raw potential for greatness on your hands. You can study like the presidents and still get your degree. That’s one of the appeals of CollegePlus. You can gain life experience while getting your degree. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. You can do both.

And if you’re still curious, the nine presidents who didn’t go to college are: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry Truman.

So is college actually worth the cost? Check out our infographic to learn more!

Caitlin Anderson
Caitlin Anderson

Caitlin Anderson believes in finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. A former CollegePlus employee, she now works as Lois Lane for a major tech company. She lives in Portland with her husband and their puppy.

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