Many think of entrepreneurial icons as those which are self made: Alan Sugar, Emma Sinclair, Richard Branson, Tina Green. But in a recent study of the educational backgrounds of those who have made the Forbes 200 list, an overwhelming amount have at least an undergraduate degree under their belt. GoCompare’s analysis confirmed that over the past 20 years 76% of those that topped the bills completed university before making their billions.

What’s more, elite institutions tended to be those listed on many of the most successful mogul’s rosters. Mostly with economic or engineering degrees, it seems that being a billionaire is undeniably circumstantial: an opportunistic achievement.

So where does this leave those who have bit the bullet and started their own business? Or the millions of students currently studying in ‘non elite’ institutions or humanity or arts degrees? This information might, at first, seem slightly depressing for those of us in either situation. A successful business or career however is not necessarily built by privilege; rather innovation, creativity, and diligence. A university degree is a mark of commitment and intelligence, a sure sign for employers that you have research skills as well as an aptitude to learn. But of course, a degree is not a route straight to success. Those with a natural aptitude for business and passion have the potential to far outrun those who may have studied the practice but never implemented it.

Ultimately, this study has only confirmed an age old stereotype of the super rich. Completing a degree at an elite university, arguably, places you within a select group of people who have contacts in the upper echelons of the business world. There has always been a large gap between those who are successful, and those which are inconceivably wealthy. The route to success is simply through utilising your skills, business acumen, and personal qualities to the best of your ability: not on the university you attended, the degree you completed, or who you are friends with. Those in the business world who we admire the most (such as self made Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Tina Green and Emma Sinclair) are living proof that success does not amount to the amount spent on your education.

By Jade Attwood, content writer for The Formations Company