It’s no secret that Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has accomplished a great deal throughout his career. But what about his college days? According to Musk himself, he rarely attended classes during his time at the University of Pennsylvania and instead spent much of his time pursuing other endeavors.

So, what was he doing? In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of Elon Musk’s college years and shed light on the wide range of activities that occupied his time.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elon Musk rarely attended classes during his time in college.
  • Despite his minimal class attendance, Musk pursued a variety of activities, including entrepreneurial pursuits, technical projects, and extracurricular activities.
  • Musk’s dedication to self-study and continuous learning laid the foundation for his future success.
  • Networking and connections played a crucial role in Musk’s career development.
  • Musk’s visionary mindset and ambitious goals were taking shape during his college days.

Elon Musk’s College Education

Elon Musk attended the University of Pretoria in South Africa for his undergraduate degree in physics. After completing his studies there, he went on to pursue a second bachelor’s degree, this time in economics, at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his bachelor’s degrees, Musk also completed several graduate-level courses at Stanford University, but never completed a full degree program there.

Throughout his college years, Musk demonstrated an insatiable curiosity and an eagerness to explore a wide range of subjects. His interdisciplinary approach to education, coupled with his relentless drive and ambition, played a pivotal role in shaping his future career as a trailblazing entrepreneur.

Musk’s education gave him a strong foundation in technical concepts and analytical thinking, which would prove invaluable in his future endeavors. His academic pursuits, combined with his entrepreneurial spirit, helped him develop the skills necessary to become one of the most innovative thinkers and visionary leaders of our time.

Elon Musk’s Disinterest in Classes

Despite enrolling in multiple classes during his time in college, Elon Musk rarely went to classes. As witnessed by his colleagues and teachers at the University of Pretoria, Musk preferred to dedicate his time to other activities.

In his own words, he stated, “I didn’t go to class much, but I read a lot of books”. This highlights his preference for self-education over traditional classroom learning.

Despite his limited attendance, Musk still managed to score good grades and excel in his studies. It is a testament to his exceptional intelligence and ability to learn outside of the classroom.

As he continued his college education, Musk’s disinterest in classes became more pronounced, and he began focusing on other activities.

These activities included efforts to establish companies, developing technical projects, and participating in extracurricular activities.

Musk’s disinterest in attending classes did not hamper his progress and growth. Instead, it allowed him to focus on learning and building skills through different channels.

Entrepreneurial Pursuits

Despite his limited time in college classes, Elon Musk kept himself busy with various entrepreneurial pursuits that would later shape his future success. Musk founded a software company called Zip2 with his brother, which provided city guides to newspapers and was eventually sold for nearly $300 million. He also started an online payment company called, which evolved into PayPal and sold to eBay for more than $1 billion.

Musk’s early ventures allowed him to hone his business acumen and provided valuable experience in creating and managing successful companies.

Elon Musk's College Entrepreneurial Pursuits

“I think it’s worth trying to make a shot at something, even if you don’t succeed.” – Elon Musk

Musk’s determination and willingness to take risks were evident during his college years and continue to define him as an entrepreneur.

Technical Projects

Elon Musk’s college years were marked by his fervent interest in technical projects, which played a significant role in shaping his career trajectory. Musk was always drawn to projects that challenged him, and he spent countless hours working on complex technical problems that piqued his curiosity.

Project Name Description Impact
Mars Oasis Musk proposed using seeds to create a self-sustaining ecosystem on Mars. Musk’s work on Mars Oasis sparked his passion for space exploration, and laid the foundation for his future ventures in the industry.
Solar Car Musk led a team of students to create a solar-powered car, which won first place in a competition. The success of the solar car project showcased Musk’s leadership skills and technical expertise, paving the way for his future entrepreneurial pursuits.
Software Programs Musk created several software programs, including a game called Blastar and a program called Zip2, which helped newspapers publish online. Musk’s experience creating software programs showed him the potential of technology to disrupt traditional industries, and motivated him to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions.

These technical projects demonstrated Musk’s innovative thinking, problem-solving skills, and willingness to take risks. They also provided the groundwork for his later success in industries ranging from space exploration to clean energy. Musk’s college years were a formative period in his life, and his dedication to technical projects during this time played a crucial role in shaping his future endeavors.

Networking and Connections

While Elon Musk’s college education was undeniably important, it is his active networking and connection-building efforts that set him apart from his peers. He recognized early on the value of building a strong network and establishing important connections, and he worked tirelessly to make it happen.

One key connection that Musk made during his college years was with Adeo Ressi, whom he met through a campus housing co-op. Ressi would later become a close friend and business partner, helping Musk start several companies including SpaceX. In addition to Ressi, Musk also made important connections with professors and other students who shared his entrepreneurial mindset.

Musk’s networking efforts extended beyond his college campus as well. In fact, he cold-called Robert Zubrin, a prominent Mars colonization expert, to discuss his ideas for a potential Mars mission. This led to a valuable mentoring relationship and helped Musk further develop his vision for space exploration.

In hindsight, it is clear that these connections and relationships played a crucial role in Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial success. By cultivating a broad network of supporters, collaborators, and advisors, he was able to bring his boldest ideas to life.

Self-Study and Learning

Elon Musk’s passion for learning goes beyond the classroom. He has always been an avid reader and self-learner, dedicating countless hours to expanding his knowledge and mastering new skills.

Through his own self-study, Elon Musk was able to gain expertise in programming, physics, and engineering – all of which would later serve as the foundation for his successful entrepreneurial ventures.

“I read books,” he once said. “I taught myself how to program computers when I was a kid, and that’s sort of continued.”

Elon Musk self-study

His commitment to continuous learning did not stop after his college years, as he continued to dedicate time and resources towards expanding his knowledge and skills.

From his early days with Zip2 to his current ventures with SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk has shown that self-study and learning can be the key to achieving great success.

Extracurricular Activities

Aside from his entrepreneurial pursuits and technical projects, Elon Musk also made time for extracurricular activities and clubs during his college years. Musk was a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity and served as the house’s kitchen manager, preparing meals for his fellow members.

Additionally, Musk participated in a number of sports, including soccer, and was known for his exceptional skills on the field. Musk’s athleticism extended to other activities, such as fencing, which he took up during his time at college.

Furthermore, Musk was a member of the student group, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), which aimed to promote space exploration and research. Musk also served as the group’s treasurer and actively participated in its activities.

Overall, Musk’s involvement in extracurricular activities demonstrates his well-rounded nature and desire to explore a diverse range of interests, both within and outside of his academic pursuits.

Vision and Ambitions

Elon Musk was never content with mediocrity. Even during his college days, he had a vision that extended beyond the walls of the classroom and his current reality. His ambitions were sky-high, and he worked tirelessly to turn them into reality.

One of Musk’s earliest visions was to leverage his intellectual curiosity and technical skills to create technologies that could solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. He knew that he had a unique ability to think “outside the box,” which he believed gave him an edge when it came to tackling complex challenges. His ambitions became more precise over time, with Musk setting his sights on projects that others believed were impossible. He envisioned electric cars, rocket ships, and even a future where humanity becomes a multi-planetary species.

Musk’s remarkable vision and ambition have become synonymous with his name. They are the driving forces behind his success, his ability to attract top talent to his companies, and his ability to inspire others to think big and push beyond their limits.


Elon Musk’s college years were anything but conventional. With rare class attendance, he instead immersed himself in a wide range of activities and pursuits. From his entrepreneurial endeavors and technical projects to his dedication to self-study and networking efforts, Elon’s experiences during this time laid the foundation for his future success as one of the world’s most visionary entrepreneurs.

By participating in extracurricular activities and clubs and pursuing his ambitious goals, Elon developed a unique perspective that allowed him to think outside the box. His vision and ambition set him apart from others, and his dedication to learning and networking allowed him to establish the connections necessary to bring his ideas to life.

Overall, Elon Musk’s college years provided an essential breeding ground for his future success. His activities, entrepreneurial pursuits, technical projects, networking, self-study, extracurricular activities, vision, and ambitions all contributed to the development of the innovative and game-changing ideas that have come to define his career.


What was Elon Musk doing during his college years?

Elon Musk was rarely attending classes and instead focused on various other activities and pursuits.

Did Elon Musk graduate from college?

Yes, Elon Musk graduated with degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Why did Elon Musk rarely go to classes in college?

Elon Musk has admitted that he found most of the classes irrelevant and preferred to pursue his own learning and entrepreneurial interests.

What entrepreneurial pursuits did Elon Musk engage in during college?

Elon Musk started a web software company called Zip2 with his brother Kimbal Musk, which later became successful and was sold for millions of dollars.

What technical projects did Elon Musk work on in college?

Elon Musk built a solar-powered car and also developed a video game called “Blastar” that he sold for $500 at the age of 12.

How did Elon Musk network and establish connections in college?

Elon Musk actively participated in entrepreneurial and networking events, and he also joined clubs and organizations related to his interests.

Was Elon Musk dedicated to self-study and continuous learning during his college years?

Yes, Elon Musk is known for his passion for self-study and continuous learning. He would often spend hours reading books and teaching himself new concepts.

What extracurricular activities did Elon Musk participate in during college?

Elon Musk was a member of the university’s wrestling team and also played a role in organizing parties and events on campus.

What were Elon Musk’s vision and ambitions during his college days?

Elon Musk already had a vision of making a significant impact on the world through technology and had ambitions of revolutionizing various industries, including space exploration and sustainable energy.

Categorized in: