11 Highly Successful High School Drop Outs

There is great debate about formal education and if it is necessary for success.  For many it is; systems produce systems and the system has proven to work.  For others, a road less travelled might be the only way to truly achieve one’s full potential.  College drop-outs are not uncommon; college is the time when you can formulate and finalize your ideas and turn your dreams into goals.  For some they see the path and they take it, regardless if formal schooling might not support it.

These 11 famous individuals began their life paths a little earlier, each one of them having dropped out of formal school either in or before high school.  At such a young age in such a chaotic world it could be difficult to have a vision and follow through.  Somehow, these fine gentlemen were able to do it.  One common trait they all share: work ethic.

Here are 11 of the most successful high school drop outs:

1. Albert Einstein

This young lad dropped out of high school because he did not find that it suited his life.  He did not let that stop him however, and took special exams to grant him entry into university and went on to become one of the most important scientists in human history.


2. Walt Disney

Mr. Disney was forced to drop out of high school at the age of 17 to fight in World War I.  Upon his return he immediately began to work as an illustrator and then created the most magical place on Earth.


3. Dave Thomas

The king of the square burger dropped out of high school at 15 years old, although he went on to earn a GED 45 years later.  Seems to be common if you want to be a fast food mogul as Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, took the same route.


4. Dave Karp

The now 27 year-old founder of Tumblr dropped out his freshman year.  His mom was a huge influence in his decision. He knew he wanted to work with computers, but his school did not have the proper curriculum.  Years later, he sold his online company for a solid 1.1 billion dollars.


5. Abraham Lincoln

Technically, Honest Abe should not be on this list.  He never actually went to high school. Actually the former president had never received any formal education as a youth.  When his mother died when he was 9, he was forced to work to support his family.  Looks like it worked out.


6. Charles Dickens

Known for timeless masterpieces such as Oliver Twist and A Tale Of Two Cities, it’s pretty hard to believe that Mr. Dickens did not receive a formal education.  His father was imprisoned when he was young, so he worked in a boot-blacking factory to support his family.


7. Richard Branson

This eccentric entrepreneur’s history is well-known and documented.  At the age of 16 he began what has become the Virgin Group dealing with everything from music to space exploration.


8. Kirk Kerkorian

Kerkorian is the man that has made Vegas what it is today.  Known as “The Smiling Cobra” he has made a fortune with a hand in building Caesar’s Palace and The MGM Grand and is currently worth just under 4 billion dollars.  Not bad for a guy who dropped out of the 8th grade.


9. Francois Pinault

This Frenchman was born to a lumber worker and he eventually dropped out of high school to work with his father.  Today he is the man behind PPR, a luxury goods conglomerate which owns fashion houses such as Gucci…now worth around 15 billion dollars.


10. Vidal Sassoon

Vidal spent six years in an orphanage until he was reunited with his birth mother.  She encouraged him to go into hair styling, so he began work at a salon at the age of 14.  Possibly the most well-known hair stylist in history, he had a net worth of around 130 million.


11. George Forman

Being a tenacious young fellow, George dropped out of high school to pursue a dream of lights and leather.  He went on to become an Olympic gold medal boxer, and struck his fortune with his George Forman grill which has sold over 100 million units to date.  He’s proud of every unit.



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