Bill Gates says he had a 'great experience' at Harvard - but he doesn't regret dropping out

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Bill GatesREUTERS/Brendan McDermidMicrosoft co-founder Bill Gates, speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2017.

  • Bill Gates discussed what it was like dropping out of Harvard at an event hosted by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the annual Gates Letter.
  • He said he loved his time at Harvard, but dropping out to start Microsoft was the right thing to do.
  • Gates still thinks that finishing school is best for most people.

Bill Gates has no regrets about dropping out of Harvard, but he thinks you should stay in school.

Gates discussed what it was like to take the plunge - leaving a prestigious Ivy League school to start a software company - in an event on Tuesday hosted by the playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, where Gates and his wife Melinda discussed the annual Gates Letter and their charitable work.

"I had a great experience there," Gates said of his three years at Harvard. "I took a lot of classes, they fed me every day - it was a pretty nice deal, lots of smart kids around."

But Gates, who had been obsessed with computers and coding software since high school, knew he wanted to be a pioneer of the personal computing revolution. And he was just delaying that by staying in school.

He said he was "a little worried" that the revolution - putting personal computers in every home, office, and now, pocket across the world - would happen without him.

"When the first computer using that microprocessor came out, Paul [Allen, cofounder of Microsoft] and I said we've got to be the first to get in on this," Gates said. "And that's when I left school."

Gates said he promised his parents he'd go back if his venture writing software was unsuccessful, but the rest is history. He did, however, receive an honorary degree from Harvard in 2007.

And though Gates never finished school, he said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that he still "loves being a student."

"I'm kind a weird dropout because I take college courses all the time," Gates told Bloomberg. He also reads over 50 books a year.

That being said, Gates thinks you should still finish school.

"You know, I recommend for most people, probably best to stick out the 4 years," Gates said. "I only got three."

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