Did one of the world’s most famous college dropouts actually drop out of high school too? Bill Gates is known for leaving Harvard University to start Microsoft with Paul Allen. But did Gates complete high school before moving on to college and ultimately starting one of the world’s most influential tech companies?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: No, Bill Gates did not drop out of high school. He excelled academically in high school and was accepted to Harvard University before graduating in 1973.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we will explore Bill Gates’ academic journey in depth. We will look at his childhood, success in school from an early age, standout high school career, college experience, and ultimately the decision to leave Harvard to found Microsoft.

Bill Gates’ Childhood and Early Academic Success

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, showed remarkable technological inclinations from a young age. As a child, Gates was fascinated by computers and spent countless hours exploring the possibilities they offered.

This early interest in technology would later shape his extraordinary career.

Gates attended prestigious Seattle prep school Lakeside

Recognizing Gates’ potential, his parents enrolled him in Lakeside School, a prestigious prep school in Seattle. This decision would prove to be a pivotal moment in Gates’ life. At Lakeside, Gates had access to state-of-the-art computer systems, which were a rarity at the time.

This allowed him to further develop his programming skills and delve deeper into the world of computers.

Gates excelled in math, science, and computer programming classes

At Lakeside, Gates quickly established himself as an exceptional student. He excelled in math, science, and computer programming classes, impressing both his peers and teachers. Gates’ abilities were so impressive that he was given the opportunity to work on computer projects for local businesses, showcasing his talent and passion for technology.

Gates’ exceptional academic performance at Lakeside laid the foundation for his future success. It was during this time that Gates began to envision a future where computers would be accessible to everyone, leading him to co-found Microsoft and revolutionize the technology industry.

To learn more about Bill Gates’ journey, you can visit Gates Notes, his personal website where he shares insights on a wide range of topics, including his experiences in the world of technology.

Bill Gates’ Accomplishments at Lakeside High School

Before delving into Bill Gates’ decision to drop out of high school, it’s important to acknowledge his achievements during his time at Lakeside High School. Despite his eventual departure, Gates’ accomplishments at Lakeside were nothing short of impressive.

Gates scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT

One of Gates’ notable achievements was his exceptional performance on the SAT. He scored a remarkable 1590 out of 1600, showcasing his intelligence and ability to excel academically. This score placed him in the top percentile of test-takers nationwide, highlighting his intellectual prowess even at a young age.

Gates was a National Merit Scholar

In addition to his SAT success, Gates was recognized as a National Merit Scholar. This prestigious accolade is awarded to high-achieving students who demonstrate outstanding academic performance, exceptional leadership qualities, and a commitment to community service.

Being named a National Merit Scholar further solidifies Gates’ reputation as a driven and accomplished student during his time at Lakeside High School.

Gates co-wrote a scheduling program for Lakeside

Not only did Gates excel in traditional academic subjects, but he also showcased his aptitude for computer programming. While at Lakeside, Gates co-wrote a scheduling program for the school. This early demonstration of his coding abilities foreshadowed his future success in the tech industry and laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

Gates graduated 4th in his class in 1973

Despite his decision to leave high school early, Gates still managed to graduate near the top of his class. In 1973, he graduated as the 4th highest-ranking student, showcasing his dedication to academic excellence.

This accomplishment serves as a testament to Gates’ intelligence, drive, and determination, even at a young age.

Bill Gates Goes to Harvard

After dropping out of high school, Bill Gates went on to attend Harvard University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. This decision proved to be a turning point in his life and set him on the path to becoming one of the most influential figures in the tech industry.

Gates was accepted to Harvard in 1973

In 1973, Gates was accepted into Harvard University. This was a remarkable achievement considering his decision to drop out of high school. It speaks to his exceptional intellectual abilities and his determination to pursue higher education.

Gates was originally interested in law and medicine

While at Harvard, Gates initially had aspirations of becoming a lawyer or a doctor. He enrolled in rigorous classes in subjects like law and medicine, but it was during his time at the university that he discovered his passion for technology and computer science.

Gates took rigorous math and computer science classes

Realizing his interest in technology, Gates began taking advanced math and computer science classes at Harvard. These courses challenged him intellectually and further fueled his curiosity in the field.

He immersed himself in the world of programming and developed a deep understanding of computer systems.

Gates excelled academically at Harvard

Gates not only embraced his newfound passion for technology but also excelled academically at Harvard. He was known for his exceptional problem-solving skills and his ability to think critically. His dedication and hard work earned him the respect and recognition of his professors and peers.

Although Gates eventually dropped out of Harvard to pursue his entrepreneurial endeavors, his time at the university played a significant role in shaping his future success. It was at Harvard where he met his future business partner, Paul Allen, and it was there that he laid the foundation for what would become Microsoft.

For more information on Bill Gates’ journey from Harvard to Microsoft, you can visit https://www.gatesnotes.com/.

Gates Leaves Harvard to Found Microsoft

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, made a bold decision in 1975 that would forever change the course of his life. He took a leave of absence from Harvard University, where he was studying computer science, to pursue his passion for technology and entrepreneurship.

Gates took a leave of absence in 1975

During his time at Harvard, Gates had already shown immense talent and passion for computer programming. He had developed a reputation as a brilliant mind and had even started a successful venture called Traf-O-Data, which involved creating software for traffic counters.

However, as Microsoft started to gain traction, Gates realized that he couldn’t juggle both his studies and the demands of running a rapidly growing company. He made the difficult decision to take a leave of absence from Harvard and fully dedicate himself to Microsoft.

Microsoft was incorporated in 1975

Shortly after leaving Harvard, Gates and his childhood friend, Paul Allen, officially incorporated Microsoft on April 4, 1975. The company initially focused on developing software for personal computers, a market that was still in its infancy at the time.

With Gates at the helm as CEO, Microsoft quickly became a dominant player in the tech industry, revolutionizing the way people interact with computers and paving the way for the modern digital age.

Gates decided to leave Harvard and focus on Microsoft

As Microsoft continued to grow and thrive, Gates realized that his true calling was in building and leading a technology empire. He made the difficult decision to drop out of Harvard permanently and fully commit himself to Microsoft’s success.

This decision was not without its risks, as dropping out of college is often seen as a risky move. However, Gates’ unwavering belief in his vision and his determination to make a difference in the world drove him to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams.

Gates received an honorary degree from Harvard in 2007

Despite leaving Harvard without a degree, Gates’ impact on the technology industry and his philanthropic work earned him recognition from his alma mater. In 2007, he received an honorary degree from Harvard University, acknowledging his contributions to society and his commitment to making the world a better place.

Gates’ journey from dropping out of Harvard to becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history serves as an inspiration to aspiring innovators and highlights the importance of pursuing one’s passions and taking calculated risks.


In summary, not only did Bill Gates graduate from high school, he thrived academically as a student. Gate’s success at Lakeside High School enabled him to be accepted to Harvard, where he was on track to graduate with honors.

However, Gates recognized the potential success of Microsoft and made the decision to leave college early, taking a huge risk that obviously paid off in the long run. While Gates is held up as one of the most famous college dropouts, he certainly did not drop out of high school.

Gates’ story demonstrates that academic discipline at an early age can set up future success even without a complete college education.

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