Hard work is only one piece of the success pie. Your social opportunities have a lot to do with how far you will go in life. The story of Bill Gates dropping out of Harvard to start Microsoft is common knowledge, but it often gets interpreted as meaning that you don’t have to have a college degree to be successful. However, if you look more closely at his background, he was born into an upper middle class family and attended one of the few schools that had computers in the sixties. So Gates’ success had much more to do with his background than it did whether he graduated college.
There are many cultures that place a greater emphasis on education and patience than we do in the United States. South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong outrank the United States in education by far, and the culture supports achievement much more than we do in the U.S.
Providing better education alone is not the answer, however. The culture needs to place more value on education before a better education can have meaning. Check out this infographic for more.