Going to school is too old school – Successful stories of some school dropouts

We have always been told that if we go to school, study properly, do our homework, pass the tests with flying colors then we are sure to become something great in life. But there have been the examples of few visionaries, great personalities and celebrities who have dropped out of school and grown up to become eminent and renowned personas in their own respective fields. Does this mean that the age-old lessons that have been given to children are wrong? Definitely, not. What helped these people succeed even after dropping out of school was their extraordinary talent, immense hard work and the good ol’ luck.

Thomas Alva Edison

The great inventor who has uncountable patents in his name, was himself a dropout. He had started formal education a little later than any other normal kid due to an ailment. Unfortunately, he did not survive there for more than three months. Being the son of a schoolteacher, his mother educated him further at home. Thus the great scientist developed in spite of staying away from school and invented big things such as electric bulb.


Benjamin Franklin is a multi-talented person. He is a politician, author, printer, publisher, scientist, inventor, founder and coauthor of the Declaration of Independence. Who would have thought that this learned personality had never been to high school. Benjamin dropped out of Boston Latin School at the early age of ten years to help his father and brother with work. All this did not stop him from achieving everything that he did.


Bill Gates, the richest person in the world, left Harvard in his junior year to develop a software (popularly known as Microsoft) for the microcomputer Altair along with his friend Paul Allen. He went on to become the co-founder of Microsoft, the most popular software in the world.

Albert Einstein, who received Nobel Prize in Physics, had failed to receive his high school diploma in the first attempt. He left school when he was 15 and later tried to get admitted into Swiss Federal Institute of Technology but failed. He completed his schooling in the second attempt.

John D. Rockefeller, the world’s first billionaire, had dropped out of his high school two months before graduating. His reason was to acquire business education from Folsom Mercantile College. He later founded the Standard Oil Company and earned billions. He spent his later life by spending his riches to provide education and health to the underprivileged.

Oscar-winning film producer and the designer of the theme park, Walt Disney left school at the age of 16 to join the army. He succeeded in joining the Red Cross and later was sent to France to drive an ambulance painted with cartoon characters. These cartoons influenced his movies. In his later life when he had gained success and money he was awarded an honorary high school diploma at the age of 58.

Sir Richard Branson of Great Britain suffered from dyslexia and had to quit school when he was 16 and moved to London where he started his entrepreneurial career. He is now a billionaire having founded Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, etc.


George Burns is another example of a school dropout who managed to win accolades in life. He, after his father died, left school when he was in the fourth grade. He ran all sorts of errands and finally started putting up acts in radio, TV and as a movie comedian.


Colonel Harland Sanders dropped out of elementary school. His father died when was 6 and since his mother had to work outside, he had to cook for the entire family. His culinary skills gave way to his success. He founded the food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

Charles Dickens, who penned down many classics such as Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, etc. left school when he was 12 after his father was charged with debt. He had to work 10 hours in a day in a boot-blacking industry. He continued doing different types of work to make ends meet. In spite of all the difficulties he faced in life he evolved to become the great writer that he is.

Member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the musician with a high number of music records, Sir Elton John, joined London’s Royal Academy of Music when he was 11. Since he did not prefer the classical compositions that were taught in the institution and he had always been more inclined to rock and roll, he quit school after 5years. Thus he started his journey of rock and roll music world and slowly climbed his way to superstardom.

Ray Kroc dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and became a Red Cross ambulance driver. This is the same who grew up to be a millionaire and purchased McDonald’s and made it what it is now. He was included in Time’s list of the 100 most influential builders and titans of industry in the 20th century.

Harry Houdini dropped out of school when he was just 12 years old. This same personality grew up to become a famous magician. His reputed Challenge Act is known all over the world.

Ringo Starr, the well-known drummer of Beatles, suffered serious health issues when he was just six years old. He spent three years in hospital and thereby, was left behind in studies in school. At the age of 15 when he quit school, he hardly knew to read or write. While working at a part-time job he got into a musical band and started playing drums. Later he joined Beatles and became a reputed drummer.

Diana Spencer, was also a school dropout at the age of 16 as she was a below-average student in school. At age 19, she became engaged to Prince Charles and became Princess Diana herself.

These people excelled in life in spite of not completing formal education. Let not your educational background dishearten you and stop you from doing what you have always wanted to.