Who Makes Forbes “30 Under 30” List?

2018 30 under 30 study

People all over the world work tirelessly to make a major impact. For some, it can take decades to achieve their goals. But, there are select few who make a difference early in life.

Those who fall into the latter category are the focus of the annual 30 Under 30 list produced by Forbes magazine. This list serves to highlight 30 companies and individuals in 20 different industries that have made waves in their chosen field before their 30th birthdays. These honorees are some of the most innovative and influential individuals in their respective fields and look to play major roles in how those industries will grow and evolve in the future.

At Grand Canyon University, we strive to prepare our graduates for immediate success once they graduate, so we are interested in those who have found exceptional success at a young age—whether or not they were a student at GCU. As an institution of higher education, we also wanted exploring the role education has played in the lives of the 30 Under 30 honorees. Perhaps, you too want to discover the key to their success.

With those thoughts and motivations in mind, we decided to take a look at the most recent edition of the 30 Under 30 list and evaluate the backgrounds and achievements of these young innovators. Using publicly-available data from Forbes, LinkedIn, company websites and newspaper articles, we found a number of interesting shared characteristics as well as intriguing differences among the honorees. These findings were too good to keep to ourselves, so we created graphics out of some of the best insights so we could share them with you and the world.

First, it should be noted that due to how the Forbes list classifies honorees, there are 697 total individuals named to the 30 Under 30 list in 2018. There are instances where multiple people who fit the list’s criteria founded a company or created a product together as partners and were grouped together as a single entry on the list.

education level of 30 under 30

Of the almost 700 people honored on the 30 Under 30 list, we found that 605 of them attended college in some capacity, with 548 of them earning bachelor’s degrees. Another interesting revelation that came out of this research was that 25 of the honorees didn’t even wait to graduate before they started influencing their chosen industry, as they founded their own companies while they were still undergraduates!

For many of the honorees, however, their schooling didn’t stop at the undergraduate level. Over 26% of the honorees went on to earn a Master’s Degree, including our own 30 Under 30 honoree Reyna Montoya, who holds a Master’s of Education in Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University! Some of the 30 Under 30 list members went above and beyond even that, as 8% of the honorees found the time to make a major impact on their world while earning a doctorate before turning 30.

These statistics demonstrate the major role that higher education has played in the lives of these accomplished young people.

average time spent in school

While the large majority of 30 Under 30 list members earned some kind of degree, we found that the average amount of time the honorees spent in college varied widely based on the industry the 30 Under 30 member primarily works in.

Honorees in the Science industry spent 7.39 years on average in college, far and away the most out of any category. Coming in second place was the healthcare industry, whose honorees spent over a year and a half less time spent in school.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 30 Under 30 members making waves in the music industry spent the least amount of time in college, averaging just over 1.5 years of school. Those in music spent less time in college than those in other industries like sports and entertainment, which are known for allowing people to achieve success with minimal educational backgrounds.

majors and universities of 2018 30 under 30

Once we saw how many of the honorees attended college, we decided to look a little deeper into their educational specifics. We found that engineering, in its many forms, was the most commonly pursued field of study among 30 Under 30 members, followed by economics. Those are the only two majors that 50 or more honorees pursued, showing that there is a true diversity of interests among these young achievers, as well as indicating that people from a range of fields can quickly make a difference in the world.

In terms of specific schools attended by honorees, it wasn’t terribly surprising to see some of America’s most prestigious universities show up time and again, with Harvard taking the top spot with 45 attendees from our list. The influence of technology and the Silicon Valley was also felt near the top of the list, with Stanford and MIT taking the second and third spots. While the schools attended by the highest number of honorees are some of the most recognizable in the country, 289 different schools from across the country are also able to boast that a 30 Under 30 honoree attended their institution in some capacity.

states of 2018 30 under 30

Where the people on the list went to school only covers part of their background, and we wanted to see where these innovators grew up, as well as where they are living now. In both regards, we found that California topped the list. In fact, one-third of the 30 Under 30 honorees currently call the Golden State home. Given that it is America’s most populous state and is home to a number of major companies in the entertainment and technology fields, that wasn’t entirely surprising.

business achievements

In the professional sphere, we wanted to find the common threads between the honorees by looking at a few key metrics. The biggest single commonality among people on the 2018 30 Under 30 list was that over half of them – 56% to be exact – founded their own company. In that same vein, over one-fifth of the honorees are CEOs, either of a company they founded or one they joined.

facts and figures

Finally, there were a number of interesting connections and findings related to our analysis that didn’t fit neatly with other metrics, so we decided to group these fun facts and figures together!

  • The average 30 Under 30 honoree from the 2018 list spent just over 4 years in college (*this average includes those who did not attend college)
  • 79 honorees spent seven or more years at institutions of higher learning
  • The honorees were slightly older than age 27 on average at the time of our analysis
  • More than 15% of the 30 Under 30 members were active in a club related to their eventual profession while in college
  • Over 60 of the honorees were members of a sports team while in school
  • Over 40 honorees participated in student government or took an active role in a volunteer organization
  • 31 innovators spent at least some of their time in college immersed in another culture while studying abroad

One thing that this research process made abundantly clear is that when young people are afforded the opportunities to pursue the things they are passionate about and given the resources to succeed in that pursuit, they can change the world. Whether that means going to school for years to become an expert in their field, starting a business out of a dorm room, or dropping a mixtape on SoundCloud, these incredible young adults found that being young is not an obstacle, but an advantage.

For students looking to begin their own journey to success, Grand Canyon University offers a top-notch education that can help you get there. Click the Request More Information button on this page or visit our website!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.