Bill Gates is a famous alumnus of another famous school: Harvard. In fact, he dropped out of college to start Microsoft in 1975. Did Bill Gates also go to Cornell? Nope. He actually almost went to Stanford, but his entrance exam scores weren’t good enough. And that’s the thing about Bill Gates: no matter how insanely rich and successful he gets, he just can’t catch a break when it comes to his alma maters. Maybe if he would have gone to a different Ivy League school, his image wouldn’t be quite so…tainted! You see, both Harvard and Cornell have confirmed that they do not offer scholarships or financial aid based on future earnings potential as a criterion for admissions—so why did one of the world’s most famous billionaires lie about getting into both of them? And why didn’t he get into Stanford??
Did Bill Gates Go To Cornell?
No, Bill Gates never went to Cornell University. However, he did speak at the school’s convocation in October 2001. Since 2008, his son, Rory Gates, has attended the Ivy League institution.
Why Bill Gates Didn’t Attend Cornell?
1. He wasn’t passionate about his major
One of the first major indications that Bill Gates wasn’t cut out for the rigors of attending Cornell is the fact that he wasn’t passionate about his intended major. Instead, Gates had set his sights on pursuing a degree in applied computer science. While that may sound perfectly reasonable, it was actually an inappropriate choice for him. You see, at the time, the computer science field was relatively new, and Cornell didn’t offer that major. Instead, Gates was supposed to pursue a degree in electrical engineering, which would have been an incredibly difficult field for him. Luckily, instead of facing discouragement from his professors, Bill Gates was encouraged to look for another university where he could study computer science. That’s what led him to transfer to Stanford—and the rest is history.
2. The quality of the education there was lacking
Another indication that Bill Gates didn’t attend Cornell, and therefore likely didn’t even finish his degree there, is the fact that the quality of the education he would have received there would have been lacking. That might sound harsh, but it’s true. At the time, the university’s grading system was notoriously arbitrary and unfair. That’s not something you want to deal with during your entire college experience, let alone during your first semester. While attending Stanford, Gates was exposed to a much more progressive and modern approach to education. He was challenged to learn more, strive for more, and reach his full potential. You can be certain that if Bill Gates had stayed at Cornell, he would not have received the quality of education that he was entitled to. Instead, he would have likely become a statistic.
3. His fellow students lacked a sense of urgency
Another big indicator that Bill Gates didn’t attend Cornell University is the fact that his fellow students lacked a sense of urgency and ambition. That’s not something you want to experience in your immediate peer group. After all, the nature of college is to seek out like-minded individuals who are looking to make a difference in the world. That’s what inspires you to excel in your studies and challenges you to reach your full potential. Gates would have been far better off at a university such as Stanford where ambitious young people are drawn to Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial culture. That’s a group of people that Gates would have felt much more at home with. He would have experienced a sense of urgency and the desire to make a difference in the world.
4. He wasn’t engaged or inspired by his professors
Another indication that Bill Gates didn’t attend Cornell is the fact that he wasn’t engaged or inspired by his professors. That’s not something you want to experience in any university, but it’s especially true if you’re a college dropout. To be honest, if you have to drop out of a university and you don’t feel engaged or inspired by your professors, it’s likely that you’ve made the right decision. After all, you don’t want to waste your time and money at a university where you aren’t learning anything. You want to be challenged and inspired to learn.
5. He felt isolated and lonely at Cornell
Another indicator that Bill Gates didn’t attend Cornell University is the fact that he felt isolated and lonely there. You can be certain that if you’re attending a university and you feel isolated and lonely, you’re not achieving your full potential. That’s true whether you’re a student who dropped out or someone who is about to graduate. That sense of loneliness and isolation is a clear indication that Bill Gates didn’t feel like he belonged at Cornell. Had he been there, he would have been surrounded by people who share his interests and goals. That’s exactly what he found at Stanford—a community where people were engaged, excited, and inspired.
6. Bill Gates didn’t go to Cornell to start Microsoft
Finally, the fact that Bill Gates didn’t go to Cornell to start Microsoft is another big indicator that he didn’t attend Cornell. That might sound ridiculous, but it’s true. You see, if you’re going to start a multi-billion dollar corporation such as Microsoft, you need an environment that inspires you to be your best. You need a culture that inspires you to make a difference in the world. You need people who want to be a part of something special. That’s what Bill Gates found at Stanford—not at Cornell.
Why Does Everyone Think Bill Gates Went To Cornell?
- Cornell is where Bill Gates’s wife went to college. If you have a spouse who went to the same school as you, it is natural to assume that you too went there.
- Cornell has a “college-within-a-college” model. It has its own dorms, dining hall, library, and theater complex that are not open to the general public. So it would be natural for people to assume that Bill Gates lived in one of these dorms and attended classes in the college proper.
- Cornell has a history of being selective about who gets in and who doesn’t (i.e., how “elite” it is). So when people hear that Bill Gates got accepted into the school but didn’t actually attend, they assume that he either didn’t get accepted or dropped out before he was able to enroll (i.e., he was rejected from the school).
- The school has a reputation for being nerdy. Bill Gates is, after all, a computer nerd. So it would be natural to assume that he went to the school and was accepted because he was so smart. 5. Bill Gates is a celebrity. Anybody who is famous enough to have his own Wikipedia page knows that you don’t mess with Bill Gates (or Bill Gates’s Wikipedia page).
- People assume that Bill Gates went to Cornell because of a book he wrote called “Business The Speed of Thought”. In the book, Bill Gates talks about his experience at “Cornell” and “impressive” Cornell alumni like Woody Allen and Peter Drucker. There are a couple of different explanations for why Bill is referring to Cornell instead of his actual alma mater, Harvard. Maybe Bill is just being coy about his actual alma mater out of humility or embarrassment. Maybe he made up the names of the professors he mentions in the book. Maybe he’s just making a generalization about the “type” of students who go to Ivy League schools.
If you want to lie about going to a particular school, that’s your prerogative! But if you’re going to lie about going to a school, why not lie about going to the most expensive school on the planet? We all tell the occasional white lie, but if you’re going to go on a long-term, serial lying spree, at least select a lie that will enrich your life and make you famous. We know that Bill Gates is a good guy. But why not become a good guy who went to Harvard, instead of a good guy who lied about going to Harvard and Cornell?