To Attend or Not… Warren Buffet’s Take on Higher Education

Did Warren Buffett go to college? It’s an intriguing question given that his own three children don’t have college degrees.

Warren Buffett was a bright youngster with an affinity for numbers and mathematics. He would visit his stockbroker father’s office and was fascinated with the stock markets and would read literature around the office. As a child he enjoyed figuring out ways to make money, whether delivering newspapers or developing horse track tipsheets. Some ventures were more successful than others (e.g. his paper route business persisted through high school) and he graduated from high school with a net worth higher than most of his teachers.

He expressed little interest to attend college. His father persuaded him to go to the Univ. of Pennsylvania for just a year. At the end of that year, Buffett still did not want to continue but did so upon his father’s urging. He dropped out after his second year but dutifully finished his degree in business administration at the Univ. of Nebraska in his hometown. Buffett admits that he enjoyed his classes in college and even furthered his formal education by attending Columbia Univ. for his Masters degree where he studied under a professor whom he says formed the basis for his investment philosophy.

Buffett’s early disdain for formal education eased when he delved into his college business courses and read books on subjects that interested him. To this day he feels that a degree isn’t always necessary for success in life. He urges people to constantly learn throughout life by doing their own reading and thinking. This, he feels, is one of the most important investments people can make in themselves. He once remarked, “…when it comes down to it, skills and experience matter more than a piece of paper.”

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