Extremely Successful People Who Dropped Out of College or School

Conventionally, we believe that a college degree paves way for a great career. And so, not every person has the guts or drive to pursue what they want by abandoning school or college. But these successful and famous dropouts teach us one very important thing – when you have an awesome idea in your head and you know how much that means to you, just go for it!

#1 Mark Zuckerberg

While the rest of us just study or sleep in our college dorms, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his, on February 4, 2004. As the website gained popularity, it spread to other universities across the nation. That’s when he bid farewell to college and moved to Palo Alto, California with other friends and rented a small room which served as an office. There, he met Peter Thiel who wished to invest in the company. Mark wanted to make the information flow reach a large populace, and so he did. No need to mention how big Facebook is now!

#2 Woody Allen

Allen is a prominent filmmaker and comedian who has a career span of over six decades. Woody never paid attention while enrolled in the film program at New York University and spent most of his time writing jokes for local newspaper columnists. He was eventually expelled from NYU due to poor grades. He then attended City College of New York, but dropped out. He worked as a comedy writer, and ventured into film making becoming one of the most versatile and acclaimed film makers.

#3 Jim Carrey

This actor, who has never failed to make us laugh, actually dropped out of high school. On his 16th birthday, Carrey decided not to attend school anymore. His father helped him in the decision and drove him to perform at a comedy club Yuk Yuk’s. His performance didn’t reach his expectations and he had second thoughts regarding it. Eventually, he went from doing open stand-up comedy to paid jobs to an actor. His confidence took him a long way and we all know the famous actor he is today.

#4 Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen was a very independent and free-spirited person right from the beginning. Woody Allen and Steve Martin were her idols. She went on to attend the University of New Orleans to major in communications but after a semester, she dropped out to work as a clerk in her cousin’s law firm. She has taken up a lot of other menial jobs before taking up comedy as her career. She never gave up through all those ups and downs. She probably had the last laugh when she received The Presidential Medal of Freedom from then President Barack Obama.

#5 Bill Gates

This famous dropout had no idea what he was supposed to do while a student at Harvard. But, his intelligence sparkled everywhere he put his eye on. For example, in his sophomore year, he devised an algorithm for pancake sorting for a combinatorics problem. Gates wanted to start his own company and when he saw the right opportunity coming his way, he immediately jumped on board.

#6 Walt Disney

This man who made everyone’s childhood so colorful and memorable despised high school. He hated high school so much that he actually wrote a letter to the principal stating how disgusted he was with it. At the age of 16, he left school to join the army. His love for the art of drawing cartoons never diminished. According to Disney, though Ub designed the Mickey Mouse character, he gave the character its soul.

#7 Oprah Winfrey

Oprah dropped out of the University of Tennesse midway through her studies when she was offered a job. She became the first black female news anchor when she joined a local news crew in Nashville. Oprah joined a morning talk show in Chicago and boosted this third-rated talk show to first place. From there she went on to become a famous media giant and is currently North America’s first and only multi-billionaire black person.

#8 Ralph Lauren

This high-end fashion designer was studying business for starters. But he left to join the army only after two years. Eventually, he went on to become a necktie salesman. When he tried to sell one of his own European designs of the necktie, it was rejected. So, he decided to start his own company. When Neiman Marcus made an order for 1200 ties, his business received a kick start!

#9 F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sometimes great minds cannot be confined to the four walls of a room. Fitzgerald got enrolled at Princeton, but however he dropped out because of falling grades. And, instead of wasting time, he started engaging himself in extra-curricular activities related to writing. But fate had been too harsh on him. Though he gained success in school writing, he was put on academic probation. So, he joined the army but was never deployed. He then stayed at his parent’s house, where he spent time writing and repairing old cars. He completed his novel which was published in 1920 and success followed soon.

#10 John Lennon

This music legend has always been interested in music and never cared about what grades he got. He was so into music that he ended up failing all of his high school graduation exams. He however got admitted in art school but was expelled. He, then, began touring with his high school band. In Germany, he renamed his band as ‘The Beatles’ and two members were replaced with George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The rest is history as we know it.

#11 Tom Hanks

This Oscar-winning actor studied theater at university, which he attended for a little over two years before he left college to intern full time at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. Hanks spent many years there, learning different aspects of theater production. He soon made an acting debut and never looked back since. Tom Hanks was named as one of the “Top 10 College Dropouts” by Time Magazine.

#12 Matt Mullenweg

The co-creator of WordPress was a political science student until he dropped out of the University of Houston. While in university, he started working on a coding project with his friends, i.e. the WordPress. When CNET offered him to work with them, he had no second thoughts and jumped on board to complete it to create the perfect version of what he had started.

#13 Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College after only one semester. He then worked for Atari and later travelled through India. When he returned, he teamed up with high school friend Steve Wozniak and co-founded Apple with him. He is considered as the pioneer of microcomputer revolution along with Woz. He founded Apple, NeXT Computer and Pixar playing an instrumental role in bringing to us many revolutionary technologies.

#14 Brad Pitt

The iconic actor Brad Pitt was a dropout too. Just a few weeks before his graduation he left the University of Missouri to pursue acting. He continued doing different jobs and giving a shot at acting career but it was only when he was offered a role in Thelma and Louise, did he make a good start. He has been giving us extremely applauded movies ever since.

#15 Lady Gaga

Not many of us know of it, but this epitomized singer was a college dropout. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, popularly known as Lady Gaga, gained an early admission at CAP21, a musical theatre training conservatory at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In the second semester of her sophomore year, she dropped out and formed a band called SGBand along with a few friends from NYU. She knew exactly where her life was meant to be heading and that road has always been really glorious.

#16 Steven Spielberg

It’s hard to believe that Spielberg, one of the most influential directors and producers in the history of film, was rejected by University of Southern California three times due to his C grade average. He eventually got admitted into the film program at California State University, Long Beach but dropped out when Universal Studios offered him a seven-year directing contract. He however completed his degree with Long Beach State in 2002, through independent projects.

Images: Pinterest

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