11 Of The Most Successful High School Dropouts
High school is a necessity for anyone who wants to find a job today. Even a college degree is a prerequisite for most jobs. Some people couldn’t care less about that. Instead they forge their own path, changing the lives of countless others in the process. These individuals remind us that anything is possible.
From titans of industry to a United States president, some high school dropouts have made a name for themselves without the help of a diploma. Here are 11 of the most successful high school dropouts in history, in no particular order:
1. Vidal Sassoon
Known for styling the hair of celebrities Vidal Sassoon had meager beginnings. He spent six years in an orphanage before being reunited with his mother, who encouraged him to find work at a salon. There, at the age of 14, he fell in love with hair. He dropped out of high school to pursue a hairstyling career. Possibly the most well-known stylist in history, he had a net worth of $130 million shortly before his death.
2. George Foreman
George Foreman was a feisty kid who often got into fights. He dropped out of high school and went on to become an Olympic gold medal boxer. He eventually moved on to his big money-maker, the George Foreman Grill, and has sold more than 100 million to date.
3. Francois Pinault
Currently the third-richest man in France, Francois Pinault left high school to work in his father’s lumber mill. Today he’s known for his luxury goods conglomerate, PPR, which owns fashion houses such as Gucci. He currently has a net worth of $15 billion.
Known as “the smiling cobra,” hotel mogul Kirk Kerkorian helped make Las Vegas what it is today. He had a hand in the making of both Caesars Palace and the MGM Grand Hotel, earning him a fortune. With a net worth of $3.9 billion, he’s now one of the richest men in the world. And he’s done it all without a formal education, since he dropped out of school in eighth grade.
5. David Karp
This 27-year-old dropped out of high school during his freshman year on his mother’s advice. He knew at an early age that he wanted to work with computers, but programming was so new that his high school didn’t offer any courses. He dropped out and continued his education on his own. The bold move paid off when he founded Tumblr and later sold it to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. Though it worked out for him, Karp discourages others from dropping out. He said in one interview, “That is not a path that I would haphazardly recommend to kids out there.”
6. Dave Thomas
Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas dropped out of high school at age 15, eventually earning his GED 45 years later. He’s not the only fast food mogul to take this path. Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Ray Kroc of McDonald’s also dropped out of high school.
7. Richard Branson
Billionaire Richard Branson is best known as the man behind Virgin Group and has recently been making headlines for his latest venture, Virgin Galactic. Before all that, he dropped out of school at the age of 16.
8. Charles Dickens
This author is best known for classic novels like A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist, and his famous works were possible with little help from a formal education. When his father was imprisoned for debt, Dickens was forced to leave school at age 12 to begin working. He started off by working 10-hour days at a boot-blacking factory before eventually turning into a writer. Other notable authors who never finished high school include William Faulkner, Mark Twain and H.G. Wells.
9. Albert Einstein
The famous physicist didn’t care for formal schooling and dropped out of high school. He didn’t let that hold him back, however. He took special entrance exams to get into college and eventually became one of the most important scientists and researchers in history.
10. Walt Disney
The Disney empire is proof that you don’t need high school to hone your creative side. Walt Disney dropped out at age 17 to serve in World War I. When he returned in 1919, he began work as a commercial illustrator and quickly set up his own shop.
11. Abraham Lincoln
Our former president may not even count as a high school dropout. He dropped out at age 9, long before making it to high school. This was a result of his mother’s death, after which he needed to work in order to support the family.