Famous Dropouts From High School And University That Turned Out Just Fine

There are so many famous artists, actors, singers, hosts, and entrepreneurs nowadays that achieved success but not thanks to their education. In fact, several of them even dropped out college or university after a few years because they knew they were wasting their time. Sometimes it is not easy to find that one thing you want to do for the rest of your life. Of course, that is not a path for everyone. You might actually enjoy going to University and getting a degree, but if you don't, not everything is lost for you. We made a list of several people who left high school and University but eventually they turned out just fine. Enjoy!


Bill Gates

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Bill Gates got into Harvard to get a degree, but something changed during that time because he was programming computers for several years. In fact, he created a game when he was 13 years old.

Drop Out

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Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975 since he wanted to focus on the creation and making of Microsoft full time. He got away with it, and now he is the richest man in the world.

Paul Allen

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Paul Allen and Gates were classmates back in high school, where they created something called Traf-O-Data, which was a program to track the traffic in Seattle, eventually, Allen went to Washington State University. Then, he dropped out college to create Microsoft with Gates.

Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah used to be a student at Tennessee State University to get a degree in media. She fell in love with that career when she studied at East Nashville High School.

Oprah drops college

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She even was part of the speech team and worked radio station. But when she was a sophomore, she was tempted by a job offer from a local television station and left school.

Michael Dell

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Michael Dell, the creator of Dell computers, used to be a student at the University of Texas to become a doctor, he was in pre-med, but he fell in love with computers eventually.

Drops pre-med

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When he was a freshman, he invested $1,000 to upgrade old computers and sell them. He ended up selling around $80,000 a month and then he decided to drop out college to continue his business

John Mackey

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The founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey dropped out from several universities and careers back in the seventies. Apparently, he had some serious trouble trying to find his path in life.

Several Drop Outs

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John stated during an interview: "I was in and out of college for six years". Eventually, he got a religion and philosophy major at the University of Texas. Then, he dropped out one last time, took a loan and opened his first grocery store.

Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple used to be a student at Reed College in Portland back in 1972, but he dropped out after a semester. He got a job as a video game designer and then traveled to India.

The first Apple

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After returning, he got in touch with his former high-school classmate and friend Steve Wozniak. Back in 1975, both of them started the creation of the first Apple product in the Jobs' family garage. The first Apple was launched a year later

Beanie Babies

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Ty Warner used to go to Kalamazoo College but eventually dropped out after only one year because he wanted to pursue a career in acting. Eventually ,he founded Ty Inc. and created the Beanie Babies.

Elizabeth Holmes

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Holmes studied at Stanford University but dropped out in 2003 to focus on building her health and Technology Company called Theranos. She is nowadays the youngest female billionaire in the entire world.

Matt Mullenweg

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Mullenweg used to study at the University of Houston, but he got so bored during computer classes that he ended up leaving University in 2004. He is nowadays the developer of Automattic and WordPress

Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg studied at Harvard and he launched "The Facebook" from his dorm back then. He was a sophomore in 2004 when he dropped out and went to Silicon Valley to work on developing the largest social network.

Larry Ellison

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Larry Ellison, the creator of Oracle, studied at the University of Illinois. After spending a summer in California, he transferred to the University of Chicago. Then, he dropped out again and went back to California.

Oracle Corporation

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Larry got several jobs and then he joined Ampex Corporation, where he started to build a database for the CIA that was named Oracle. In the seventies, he and other two colleagues created the database management company that nowadays is called Oracle Corporation.

Jack Taylor

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Jack Taylor used to study business at Washington University when he left school and became a pilot during World War II. When the war ended, he started Rent-A-Car, with seven cars and one employee.

Daniel Ek

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Daniel Ek used to be an engineering student at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. He dropped out after eight weeks and created an online marketing company called Advertigo. Then, he sold the company and founded Spotify in 2008.

Sophia Amoruso

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Sophia Amoruso used to be home-schooled and then went to a community college. After a while, she dropped out and started an eBay store selling vintage clothes called Nasty Gal, which is nowadays a multimillion-dollar business.

David Neeleman

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He used to study at the University of Utah and dropped out a year before graduating. He always thought he would be good at business in spite of having a learning disability. Eventually, he ended up founding the commercial airlines JetBlue Airways, and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

Arash Ferdowsi

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Arash was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007. During his third year, he dropped out to co-found DropBox, a small startup service that nowadays is quite popular around the world.

Ellen Degeneres

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Ellen is not only a great, smart, funny host; she is a talented entrepreneur and helps many people. She used to study at the University of New Orleans and left after one semester to pursue her career in media.

Russell Simmons

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Russell used to study at Manhattan City College to get a sociology degree, but right after getting the diploma, he dropped out. Nowadays, he is a successful entrepreneur and music producer.

Brad Pitt

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Brad Pitt did not always want to become an actor. In fact, he used to study journalism at The University Of Missouri but dropped out two weeks before graduation, to pursue a career in acting.

Ted Turner

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Ted Turner used to be a student at Brown University but he got expelled because he was caught in the dorm with a girl, something it is strictly forbidden. Eventually, he founded CNN and WTBS

Natasha Bedingfield

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Natasha used to study at the University of Greenwich to get a degree in psychology and dropped out after a year because she wanted to focus on her singing and songwriting career.

Kelly Clarkson

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Pop singer and famous artist Kelly Clarkson got several college music scholarships when she was younger, but never took one because she wanted to move to LA and become a professional singer.

Francis Scott Fitzgerald

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Francis used to study at Princeton University to get a literary degree, but he was placed on academic probation several times because he had bad grades, something that led him to drop out college and joined the army. Then, he became a successful writer.

Whitney Houston

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Whitney never went to college because she was discovered when she was 19 in New York City by Clive Davis, who gave her a contract with Arista Records. She is the most awarded female artist of all times.

John Mayer

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John Mayer used to study at Berkley College of Music but dropped out only after a year to pursue his professional career as a singer and songwriter in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ralph Lauren

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Ralph Lauren, the founder of the fashion brand that makes polo clothes, used to study at Baruch College and eventually left it after a year to join the U.S. Army. He never attended fashion school.

Lady Gaga

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Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta also known as "Lady Gaga" was born in New York and was a freshman at NYU when she dropped out college. Her dream was to become a famous singer and achieved it.

John Lennon

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John Lennon was known as quite the bad boy, especially during his years of high school. He got expelled from Liverpool College, and that is the reason why he joined a band that led him to co-found The Beatles

Jim Carrey

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Some things simply don't require to study, they come out naturally from you. Jim Carrey is an example, he didn't go to University, in fact, he didn't even finish high school, he dropped out at 16.

Al Pacino

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Al Pacino used to live in New York and that is the city where he went to high school. When he was 17, he failed every single class except English, which is why he dropped out high school and pursued an acting career.

Wolfgang Puck

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Wolfgang Puck nowadays is a professional chef and the owner of several restaurants around the world, but when he was only 14 years old he left high school to become a cooking apprentice at a hotel.

Walt Disney

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Walt Disney used to live in Kansas City, where he attended school, but eventually, he dropped out at the age of 16, where he joined the Red Cross, and then he traveled several years to Europe.

Tom Hanks

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Tom Hanks used to study in Sacramento State, but eventually, he dropped out and moved to the Great Lakes Theater Festival as a full-time intern to pursue an acting career.

Abraham Lincoln

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Apparently back then it was not necessary to get a degree in some subject to become the President of the United States. Abraham Lincoln left high school when he was 12 to help his family on the farm.

David Karp

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The creator of the known blogging page called Tumblr used to be a high school student but he dropped out at the age of 14 because his mother told him he had a talent with computers and should focus on that.

Coco Chanel

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Coco Chanel, not only an iconic designer but the woman who changed fashion in the world, left school when she was 18 years old because she wanted a career in fashion.

Rihanna

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Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born in Barbados. When she was 16, she moved to Connecticut to become a singer, and a year later she got a singing contract with Def Jam records. She never went to college.

Jack Dorsey

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Jack Dorsey is the founder and CEO of Twitter and Square, but before that he used to study at New York University, where he dropped out in 1999. Dorsey founded Twitter in 2006 and he is nowadays a multibillionaire

Rachael Ray

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Rachel Ray graduated from high school in the eighties and then went to Pace University to get a degree in literature and communication, but after two years she dropped out. She is nowadays an author, television host, and millionaire entrepreneur

Jan Koum

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Jan Koum is the founder of WhatsApp and a former employee of Yahoo. In fact, that is the reason why he dropped out San Jose State University when he was studying computer science.

Travis Kalanick

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Travis went to UCLA, and while being a student there he founded his first business, called Scour, with some classmates. A few years later he left university to work full time on Scout. Eventually, the company had to close and then he founded Uber.

Orji Uzor Kalu

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Orji used to go to a Nigerian University but he got expelled when he was 19 years old due to getting caught causing a series of student riots. He started trading rice, sugar and palm oil with $35 and founded SLOK Holding.

Will Smith

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Will Smith never went to college, because he released his first album right before he finished high school and eventually got a Grammy Award. He never stopped working ever since.

Kanye West

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Kanye used to go to the American Academy of Art in Chicago but dropped out after a semester to being transferred to the Chicago State University. That did not last long enough since he left it to focus entirely on his singing career.