Many successful people rose to prominence by taking the risk of dropping out of college. That doesn’t mean dropping out is a good idea. Imagine how Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would have ended up if the investors denied them because they had no diploma. Higher education is still a finest way to success. So what we have to understand is that intelligence and skill cannot be judged based on education credentials. And we must learn to take their hard work and work commitment as an inspiration to fulfill our dreams! Here is my list of 10 very successful college dropouts
10. David Plouffe
David Plouffe dropped out of the University of Delaware in 1989, seeking a full-time career in politics and returned to complete his degree in 2010.
This political strategist is famous for serving as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 successful presidential election. Obama thanked Plouffe in his acceptance speech, calling him “the unsung hero of this campaign who built the best political campaign, I think, in the history of United States of America”. He is considered as one of the best political minds in Democratic Party. He is also the author of the book The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory which was published in 2009 and became a New York Times bestseller. His overnight upsurge from college dropout to political celebrity is quite inspiring.
Madonna dropped out of college at the University of Michigan in 1978 to move to New York City to study with Alvin Ailey for a career as dancer.
Popularly called “The Queen of Pop”, Madonna became a sensational solo pop singer in the 80s when the music world was dominated by male singers. She has sold over 300 million records worldwide and holds the Guinness World Record as the best-selling female recording artist of all time. Besides being a singer, she is also an actress, author, director, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She was considered as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century” by Time magazine. In 2012, VH1 crowned her as the ‘Greatest Woman in Music’. From a college drop-out to multi-millionaire songstress, Madonna made it really big!
8. James Cameron
James Cameron dropped out of Fullerton College where he was studying Physics. After leaving college, he married a waitress and became the truck driver for the local school district.
The critically acclaimed film director is known for creating some brilliant science fiction movies which also turned out to be huge box office hits. He won many awards for his works in the film industry and is one of the few film makers to win three Oscars in a single evening. His most famous work is 1997’s Titanic, which became the first movie to earn more than US$ 1 billion and went on to win 11 Academy Awards of the 14 nominations received by it. Cameron’s Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time followed by Titanic, which is also his work. Movies directed by him have grossed nearly US$ 6 billion worldwide. Vanity Fair named him Hollywood’s top earner in March 2011. Cameron is also a deep-sea explorer and reached the bottom of Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in his Deepsea Challenger submarine becoming the first person to do this in solo descent and only the third person to do so ever.
7. Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks dropped out of Sacramento State where he was studying theatre when he got the opportunity to intern at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland, Ohio.
This versatile movie actor has won the hearts of millions with his diverse roles in movies. He is only the second actor in history to win back to back Oscars for Best Actor for Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994). He not only earned critical success but also commercial success and stands as the biggest box office star of all time with his films grossing approximately US$ 4 billion United States box office and over US$ 8 billion worldwide. The critically-acclaimed war film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ earned him a Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award the Navy can give to a civilian.
6. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey dropped out of Tennessee State University in 1976 to become an anchor on WTFV-TV and establish a career in media. She later completed her degree in 1986.
Winfrey is a media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and one of the most famous philanthropists. Her net worth is US$ 2.7 billion as of 2012. She was ranked as the Richest African-American of the 20th century, greatest black philanthropist in history of America and was the only black billionaire in the world for a time. Her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, is one of the most watched TV shows of all time. This show inspired millions of people across the world by discussing significant and intriguing issues. She serves as a role model for many women, especially black American women.
5. Ted Turner
Ted Turner was expelled from Brown University after he was found with a girl in his dorm room which was against his college regulations.
Turner, one of world’s best known businessmen, was the largest private landholder in United States until John C. Malone outdid him in 2011. He is the founder of the first 24 hour cable news channel known as CNN which revolutionized news media. He is also the creator of the charitable Goodwill Games. Turner became popular amongst children for creating Cartoon Network, the first channel which broadcasted cartoons 24 hours a day. He is also a famous philanthropist and is notable for his US$ 1 billion gift to support United Nations causes. He published his autobiography known as Call Me Ted in 2008.
4. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard when he was in his sophomore year to move to Silicon Valley and work full-time on developing Facebook.
He rose to prominence after he co-founded the social networking site, Facebook. As the Chairman and CEO of Facebook, Inc. he built Facebook into the world’s largest and most popular social networking site with over a billion monthly active users. Time magazine named him “Person of the Year” in 2010. Zuckerberg earned multi-billionaire status when he was just in his mid-twenties. His net worth is US$ 16.8 billion as of 2013. With his idea, Zuckerberg redefined the social media market and connected people in an unimaginable way.
3. Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright dropped out of University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1887 and left to Chicago in search of employment.
Wright was an architect, interior designer, writer and educator. He believed in a philosophy, he called Organic Architecture. The best example of this philosophy is his design for Fallingwater or Kaufmann Residence (1935) which has been called “the best all-time work of American Architecture”. Wright designed more than 1000 structures and completed 532 works. His famous works include the Fallingwater, Guggenheim Museum, Rookery Building, Park Inn Hotel, Taliesin etc. He was recognized as “the greatest American architect of all time” in 1991 by American Institute of Architects.
2. Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College just after six months due to excessive financial burden it caused his parents who could not afford the expensive tuition fee and were spending their life savings for their son’s higher education.
Jobs was an entrepreneur and inventor who was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. As the CEO, he supervised the development of iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Retail Stores, iTunes Store and the App Store. He also co-founded Pixar Animation Studios and served as chief executive of it. He transformed the world with his creative ideas and revolutionized the computer world. He has been described as the “Father of the Digital Revolution”.
1. Bill Gates
Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard after his second year to start a computer software company called Microsoft along with his friend Paul Allen. The Harvard Crimson referred to him as “Harvard’s most successful dropout”.
Through technological innovation and combative business strategies, he and his partner Allen built Microsoft as the world’s largest personal-computer software company. Gates is consistently ranked in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people. As of 2013, his net worth is US$ 72.7 billion. He is one of the eminent entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Gates is also a leading philanthropist. He and his wife created Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which is largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world. It is estimated that Bill Gates had donated US$ 28 billion to the foundation. He also authored a few books.