I dropped out of Manchester and Cambridge but it’s honestly fine
If you’re as talented, intelligent and handsome as I am, you don’t need a degree to succeed
I hate to brag, but, if I died in a heinous accident, someone would probably write it up. Like, people have heard of me. It would be news.
In 2012, I told Forbes, who were really nice to name me “digital media’s Citizen Kane” that year, that if you drop out of university you’d better go on to real success in your own right, or it doesn’t say great things about you.
Luckily for me, I did. Except luck doesn’t really come into it: it was a combination of tenacity, talent and good looks which propelled me to the top—and you don’t pick those up in the quad.
The dirty secret of professional and personal success is it has a lot more to do with your God-given assets than it does how hard you studied at uni or where you went. Like, I don’t mean to show off but I get a lot of compliments. Growing up I never thought I was all that but apparently I push enough people’s buttons to be “hot,” so, cool. And that, more than anything, is what has opened doors for me in life.
Let me be clear: I wouldn’t advise anyone to drop out of uni. You’re unlikely to end up like me or Steve Jobs, at the top of our professional game just a few years into our twenties despite the lack of a degree. More probable is you’ll end up a flipper at BK or delivering Domino’s while you work on “the novel.”
But when I read Matt McDonald’s harrowing account of being turned down from both Oxford and Cambridge yesterday I couldn’t help but write a rejoinder to Tab readers to say: hey. It needn’t be a disaster.
I mean, I’ve thrown up in David Bowie’s sink. I snogged one of the stars of a blockbuster superhero movie in a pool in Beverly Hills. In 2005, Mariah Carey said I was “adorable, and so British” when I had tea with her at Claridge’s. And not one of these things has anything to do with where I went, however briefly, to university.
When I got invited to speak at the Cambridge Union last year, it was a real honour. And, I won’t lie, it was a pretty cool fuck-you to Wolfson, who threw me out after repeated warnings for the ridiculously trivial reason that I didn’t show up to supervisions, didn’t submit any essays and spent most of my time shagging and drinking instead of reading medieval literature.
It wasn’t even the first time I’d been thrown out of a university: I got in to Cambridge once before but then screwed up my A-levels and had to go to my second choice, Manchester, where I was so resentful and depressed I slipped into a pretty heavy-duty party crew and gave up on studying altogether.
Truth be told, I have no idea whether I was ever officially sent down from there. Maybe they’re still expecting me to wander back in one afternoon smelling faintly of cigarettes and sick. I mean, I doubt it.
In the years since, I’ve started and sold a media company, made enough money to buy a £1.2 million town house in London with my other half, seen my former protégés ascend to dizzying heights of journalistic success and acquired an amazing set of friends with whom I holiday five times a year and get up to all sorts of terrible shit.
And my career is still going strong. When I do manage to drag myself out of bed after hung over fumbles with the housekeeper’s husband it’s to a well-paid column for a mischievous American news website and regular appearances on Newsnight and Sky News. Oh, and I’ve got a book coming out later this year.
What I’m saying is, I didn’t get named a “rising star of the Right” by the Spectator magazine in 2012, the “pit bull of tech media” by the Observer in the same year, a “crank from the far-right” by George Galloway and a “cynical, ignorant fucker” by Stephen Fry because I got into the right college, or even the right uni.
So if you don’t have the path through higher education you and your family always dreamed of, don’t despair. You can still make it happen for yourself. Or, as Doug Richard, that moron off the first season of Dragon’s Den who got arrested last month over the alleged rape of a 13-year-old once said to me, “Milo, who knew you could singlehandedly bring the Fox News view into the UK?”
To be honest, I think he was giving me too much credit—but then I’ve always been modest.