Famous Drop-Outs

www.TheCitizensWhoCare.org

Home Schooled
People without a High School education
Got a GED
High school graduates, no college
Some college
Still Confirming

And then, if you think about startin a family early before you have Study these case studies for yourself to determine whether you need to go to school to build a profitable business. See what it takes to make a spash without a diploma.

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Home Schooled


  • Abigail Adams, U.S. first lady. Home schooled.
  • Jane Austen, novelist. She and her sister attended schools in Oxford, Southampton, and Reading until the age of 11. After that time, their father taught them at home.
  • William Blake, poet, artist. Never attended school, educated at home by his mother.
  • Daniel Boone, explorer, frontier leader. Home schooled.
  • James Joseph Brown, mining engineer, husband of Unsinkable Molly Brown. Self-educated.
  • Christopher Columbus, explorer, discover of America. Little formal education. Home schooled.
  • Davy Crockett, frontiersman, U.S. congressman. Less than six months of formal education. Home schooled.
  • Francis Drake, British admiral and explorer. Home schooled.
  • Thomas Edison, multimillionaire inventor of the phonograph, light bulb, and many other inventions. He quit formal schooling after his teacher called him addled. Was home-schooled by his mother.Benjamin Franklin, inventor, scientist, inventor, diplomat, author, printer, publisher, politician, patriot, signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Dropped out of Boston Latin. Home schooled with less than two years of formal education.

People without a High School education


Did you know that “more than 1.3 million students drop out of high school every year in the US?” Considering that this makes a high-school dropout ineligible for 90% of jobs in the country, is there any reason to think that they’ll find success?

Now that May has turned into June and summer rolls on, high school students all across the country are getting ready to walk across the stage and get that high school diploma. But some of Hollywood’s most famous names never quite had that experience, unless it was on the silver screen. Check out our list of celebrities who didn’t stay in high school long enough to hear the graduation song from start to finish:

  • Ansel Adams, photographer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Bryan Adams, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Ferran Adria, chef. Has been called the world’s greatest chef. Did not finish high school.
  • Miguel Adrover, fashion designer. High school dropout.
  • Andre Agassi, tennis player, winner of 8 Grand Slam titles. Quit school in the ninth grade and turned tennis pro at the age of 16. His father would drive the kids to school but, instead, actually took them to local tennis courts to practice.
  • Christina Aguilera may not have finished high school, but she has had more success in her teen years than most people can hope to have in a lifetime. The former Disney star has had several hit songs and can now be scene on the NBC program "The Voice."
  • Danny Aiello, actor.Dropped out high school at the age of 16 to join the army.Later received highschool equivalencydegree
  • Jack Albertson, Oscar-winning actor. High school dropout.
  • Peter Allen, singer, songwriter, composer. High school dropout.
  • Rick Allen, rock star member of Def Leppard. High school dropout.
  • Dhirubhai Ambani, billionaire Indian businessman. High school dropout.
  • Wally “Famous” Amos, multimillionaire cookie entrepreneur, author, talent agent. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the U.S. Air Force.
  • Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace. A high school dropout.
  • Anthony Andrews, actor. High school dropout.
  • Julie Andrews, Oscar-winning actress, singer, author. Dropped out of high school.
  • Christina Applegate, Dropped Out: 11th Grade Reason: When your mom is an actress and your father is a record producer, the entertainment bug tends to bite you hard, which is exactly what happened for this teenage actress. The "Up All Night" star wanted to ditch the student hat for a try at acting and singing so she left Excelsior
  • Edwin Apps, British artist. High school dropout.
  • Joan Armatrading, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Billie Joe Armstrong, front man for Green Day punk rock band. High school dropout. As he noted, “I finally realized that high school didn’t make any sense for me then. So I quit.”
  • Louis Armstrong, jazz musician, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Cliff Arquette, aka Charlie Weaver. Comedian, entertainer. High school dropout.
  • Brooke Astor, wealthy socialite, author, philanthropist. Dropped out of high school.
  • John Jacob Astor, multimillionaire businessman. America’s first multimillionaire. High school dropout.
  • Chet Atkins, country singer, author. High school dropout.
  • Gene Autry, singing cowboy, actor, songwriter, producer, businessman, author, baseball team owner. High school dropout.
  • Richard Avedon, photographer. High school dropout.
  • Willy Aybar, baseball player. High school dropout.
  • Kevin Bacon, actor, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Pearl Bailey, singer, actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Josephine Baker, singer, actress, dancer. High school dropout.
  • Lucille Ball, actress, comedienne, producer. Co-founder of Desilu Studios. Late bought out her husband’s share to become the first woman to own and run a production studio. Dropped out of high school.
  • Hubert Howe Bancroft, historian, bookseller. High school dropout.
  • Brigitte Bardot, actress, model, author, animal rights activist. High school dropout.
  • Roseanne Barr, actress, comedienne, producer, director. She dropped out of high school at the age of 17. It wasn't until much later she got into comedy and eventually created the hit TV show "Roseanne."
  • Drew Barrymore, actress, producer, and director. Dropped Out: 11th Grade Reason: When you're getting big acting breaks at the age of 7, checking into rehab at 13 and being legally emancipated from your mother at 15, school isn't always a priority. The Hollywood wild child dropped out after hitting rock bottom and has since made quite the career comeback.
  • Bill Bartman, billionaire businessman, author. High school dropout.
  • Count Basie, bandleader, pianist. Dropped out of high school.
  • Shirley Bassey, singer, author. High school dropout.
  • Boris Becker, tennis player. Did not complete high school.
  • Anne Beiler, multimillionaire co-founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants. High school dropout.
  • Art Bell, radio talk-show host, author. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the U.S. Air Force.
  • Jean-Paul Belmondo, actor. Did not do well in school. High school dropout.
  • Jack Benny, actor, comedian, violinist, didn't need to have a have school diploma in order to have a successful career in comedy.
  • Irving Berlin, Oscar-winning songwriter, composer. When his father died when he was 8 years old, he had to work to survive. Wrote such long-lasting hits as God Bless America, White Christmas, There’s No Business Like Show Business, etc.
  • Yogi Berra, baseball player, coach, and manager. Quit school in the eighth grade.
  • Claude Berri, Oscar-winning French director, actor, screenwriter, and producer. High school dropout.
  • Luc Besson, French director, screenwriter, and producer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Joey Bishop, actor, comedian. Never finished high school.
  • Clint Black, Grammy-winning country singer, songwriter, record producer, actor. Dropped out of Stratford High School in Houston, Texas to play in his brother’s band.
  • Norman Blake, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Did not finish high school.
  • Mary J. Blige, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Orlando Bloom dropped out of high school and went on to star in two of the biggest film franchises of all time "Pirates of the Caribean" and "Lord of the Rings."
  • Humphrey Bogart, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Peter Bogdanovich, director, screenwriter, actor, author. High school dropout. Began studying acting with Stella Adler when he was only 16.
  • Michael Bolton, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, aka Henry McCarty, outlaw legend. Orphaned as a teenager, never finished high school.
  • Cher Bono, may not be a scholar, but she went on to have a successful career in music and film. She won an Oscar for her performance in "Moonstruck."
  • Sonny Bono, singer, actor, songwriter, U.S. congressman. Dropped out of high school.
  • Bjorn Borg, tennis player. Joined professional tennis circuit when he was 14. Never finished high school
  • David Bowie, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer. Sold 136 million records. It seems unimaginable that he would ever be a high school student. Perhaps, that is why he dropped out to pursue a career in music.
  • Marlon Brando Dropped Out: During His Later Time In A Military Academy Reason: Neither military school nor public high school could make "The Godfather" himself an offer he couldn't refuse. After being expelled from one high school for riding his motorcycle through the halls, the Oscar-winner was put on probation at his subsequent military school. Unable to make it into the military due to a knee injury sustained while on the football team, the legendary actor opted out to pursue acting.
  • Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and other Virgin enterprises, balloonist. High school drop out at 15
  • Jacques Brel, Belgium singer, songwriter, actor, and director. Did not finish high school.
  • Charles Bronson, actor. He was 10 when his father died, and he went to work in the coal mines to help support the family.
  • Gary Brooker, singer, songwriter, founder of Procol Harum rock band. Did not finish high school.
  • Louise Brooks, actress, dancer, model, showgirl. Began dancing at the age of 16. Never finished high school.
  • Pierce Brosnan didn't finish high school, but that didn't stop him from landing the iconic role of James Bond.
  • Margaret “Molly” Brown, socialite, philanthropist, social activist, survivor of the Titanic. High school dropout.
  • Gisele Bundchen dropped out of high school at age 14 to pursue a career in modelling. Bundchen is a student of the world and can speak five languages.
  • George Burns, Oscar-winning actor, comedian. Elementary school dropout.
  • Pete Burns, singer, songwriter, member of Dead or Alive rock band, reality TV star. Elementary school dropout.
  • Ellen Burnstyn, Oscar-winning actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Raymond Burr, actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Terry Butters, singer, pianist. High school dropout.
  • Nicolas Cage, whose uncle is "Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola, dropped out of high school to get into the family business of film making.
  • James Cagney, actor, song-and-dance man. Worked from the age of 14 as an office boy, janitor, package wrapper, and finally vaudeville dancer.
  • Sam Cahnmy , Oscar-winning songwriter. Dropped out of high school.
  • Michael Caine, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Glen Campbell, singer, songwriter, actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • George Carlin, comedian, author 4-time Grammy winner. Never finished high school. As he noted, “The fact that I didn’t finish school left me with a lifelong need to prove that I’m smart.” He also noted, “When you’re a dropout and the culture accepts you and begins to quote you and teach your stuff in class and textbooks, this is my honorary baccalaureate.”
  • Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist. Elementary school dropout. Started work at the age of 13 as a bobbin boy in a textile mill. One of the first mega-billionaires in the U.S.
  • Jim Carrey Dropped Out: 16 Reason: The comedic actor was not only a class clown, but a straight-A student as well. But times were tough for the young Canadian, who was forced to drop out to find a job to help support his family. He worked as a security guard and janitor before deciding to try his hand at comedy.
  • Charles Chaplin, Oscar-winning actor, screenwriter, producer, director. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Ray Charles, singer, pianist, dropped out of high school and went on to have a successful music career.
  • Gurbaksh Chahal, multimillionaire founder of online ad networks Click Again and BlueLithium. Dropped out of school at the age of 16 to found Click Again.
  • Maurice Chevalier, Oscar-winning actor, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • James H. Clark dropped out at 16. netscape
  • Kurt Cobain Dropped Out: 12th Grade Reason: After being scarred by his parents' divorce and realizing he did not quite have enough credits to walk as it was, the withdrawn rocker left high school two weeks before graduation. Turns out Nirvana's front man didn't need high school classes to write legendary rock hits
  • Hank Cochran, country singer and songwriter. Worked in the oil fields of New Mexico while still a teenager. Then moved to California to sing before moving to Nashville and building a career as a songwriter of such hits as “I Fall to Pieces,” “Make the World Go Away,” and “She’s Got You.” Never graduated from high school.
  • Sean Connery, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Jack Kent Cooke, billionaire media mogul, owner of Washington Redskins football team. Dropped out of high school.
  • Bill Cosby Dropped Out: 10th Grade Reason: The actor, comedian, writer and producer had always been more interested in sports than academics despite high test scores. After finding out he would have to repeat 10th grade at Germantown High School, he became frustrated enough to drop out before joining
  • Noel Coward, Oscar-winning actor, playwright, director, producer, composer. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Simon Cowell, TV producer, music judge, American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, and The X Factor. A member of Forbes 2008 Celebrity 100, he made $72 million in 2007. He dropped out of school at the age of 16.
  • James M. Cox, newspaper publisher, 3-term governor of Ohio, presidential nominee in 1920, founded Cox Enterprises. A high school dropout.
  • Joan Crawford, Oscar-winning actress, dancer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Russell Crowe may have dropped out of high school, but that didn't stop him from winning an Oscar for his performance in "Gladiator."
  • Tom Cruise Dropped Out: 18 Reason: At just 14 years old, young Tom had moved 15 times between the US and Canada and fully intended to become a priest. Yet, after settling at a high school in New Jersey, the Oscar-nominated actor, realized his love of acting and left academics and his dreams of priesthood
  • Roy Cullen, oilman billionaire. Dropped out of fifth grade
  • Charles Culpeper, multimillionaire owner and CEO of Coca Cola. Dropped out of high school
  • Sammy Davis, Jr., singer, actor, comedian. Never finished high school.
  • Jimmy Dean, singer, songwriter, actor, multimillionaire founder of Jimmy Dean Foods. Dropped out of high school to join the Merchant Marines at the age of 16. Later joined the Air Force at the age of 18.Patrick
  • Johnny Depp Dropped Out: 15 Reason: Despite his success as an actor and the recognition he has earned for the many roles he has played in Tim Burton Films, Johnny Depp dropped out of high school to become a rocker. Though it didn't quite pan out that way, he still keeps his passion for music as a hobby and will even
  • Dempsey, actor, Dr. McDreamy, juggler, race car driver. Left Maine when he was 17 for a stage-acting career.
  • Gerard Depardieu, actor. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Bo Derek may not have graduated high school, but she did have a successful film career. She now lives on a ranch with her longtime love, John Corbett.
  • Richard Desmond, billionaire publisher. Dropped out of high school.
  • Princess Diana Dropped Out: 16 Reason: Prior to performing her princess duties, the late Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, failed all of her O-level examinations (exams given to 16-year-old students in the UK to determine their education level) at West Heath Girls' School. She moved on to a finishing school in Switzerland where she (ironically) never finished before becoming engaged to Prince Charles at age 19.
  • Cameron Diaz Dropped Out: 17 Reason: Turns out the actress wasn't just a "Bad Teacher," but she was a pretty poor student also. The longtime Hollywood starlet admits that school just wasn't her thing and left Long Beach Polytechnical High School after being offered a modeling contract.
  • Charles Dickens, bestselling novelist. Elementary school dropout.
  • Matt Dillon is a high school drop out who started acting at an early age. He can be seen in such films as "Drugstore Cowboy," "Crash" and "There's Something About Mary."
  • Joe DiMaggio, baseball player, husband of Marilyn Monroe. High school dropout.
  • Robert DiNero Dropped Out: 16 Reason: Just before turning 17 and years before landing the role of young Vito Corleone, this two-time Oscar winner abandoned a formal education to pursue his dream of acting.
  • Walt Disney, producer, director, screenwriter, animator, developer of Disneyland. Winner of 26 Oscars and 7 Emmy awards. While attending McKinley High School, he also took night classes at the Chicago Art Institute. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join the army. Rejected because he was under aged, he joined the Red Cross and was sent to war in Europe. Upon his return from war, he began his artistic career.
  • Thomas Dolby, musician, composer, music producer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Robert Downey, Jr., actor. Dropped Out: 10th or 11th Grade Reason: The same year his famous actor, writer and director of a father divorced his mother, this "Iron Man" decided to leave Santa Monica High School and move back east to New York City where he grew up to pursue acting. He had already been cast by his father at the age of five in "Pound" but he landed his first post-academic role in "Baby It's You."
  • Eliza Dushku, actress. Moved from Boston to Los Angeles at the age of 17 to act.
  • Johnny Earle, founder of Johnny Cupcakes. Dropped out of music school to sell limited-edition T-shirts out of the trunk of his ’89 Camry.
  • George Eastman, multimillionaire inventor and founder of Kodak. High school dropout.
  • Don Edwards, cowboy singer. Never finished high school.
  • Duke Ellington, bandleader, composer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Philip Emeagwali dropped out at 13 Called an "unsung hero of the internet," Computer to talk to each other
  • Eminem, rapper. Has a limited formal education, but “by the time I was 18 I had probably read the dictionary front to back like 10 times.” The intelligent rapper freestyled versus with interesting rhymes and obscure references until he gained the attention of Dr. Dre.
  • Bobby Fischer, Grandmaster chess player. A high school dropout.
  • Colin Farrell dropped out of high school and went on to star in hit movies like "Minority Report," "Phone Booth" and "Horrible Bosses."
  • Ella Fitzgerald, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Henry Ford, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company. Received only a modest rural education. Left his home on the farm to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan. Later ran a sawmill and became a chief engineer for Edison Illuminating Company before starting the Ford Motor Company.
  • Charles Forman, founder of iminlikewithyou social networking website. Left home when he was 18 to work in Korea and Japan as a programmer.
  • Andrew Fox, Internet entrepreneur, multi-millionaire. A high school dropout.
  • Michael J. Fox, actor. Dropped out of high school. Co-starred in a Canadian television series at the age of 15. Left Canada at the age of 18 to go to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
  • Dick Francis, novelist, jockey. Never graduated from high school because his father, as noted by the London Times, felt “that a day’s hunting or show jumping was more valuable” than formal schooling.
  • Aretha Franklin, singer. Dropped out of high school at 15.
  • Joe Frazier, heavyweight boxing champion. Never finished high school. Left home at the age of 15 to go to New York City.
  • Clark Gable, dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to work at a tire factory.
  • Boy George may have dropped out of high school, but he went on to have a successful music career
  • George Gershwin, songwriter, composer. High school dropout.
  • Amadeo Peter Giannini, multimillionaire founder of Bank of America. High school dropout.
  • William Gibson, science fiction novelist, first to use the word cyberspace. Was orphaned at the age of 18. To avoid the draft and the war in Vietnam, he moved to Canada where he worked odd jobs. Years later he finally finished his first novel, Neuromancer. Never attended college.
  • Dizzy Gillespie, musician, songwriter. Dropped out of high school but later received an honorary diploma from the high school he attended.
  • Jackie Gleason did not complete high school. "Honeymooners"
  • Whoopi Goldberg Dropped Out: 17 Reason: The actress, comedian and producer has won a Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar... but she says she dropped out because high school was too hard? Turns out this lady of "The View" never made it through due to undiagnosed case of dyslexia -- the star discovered the cause of her learning problems only as an adult.
  • Ryan Gosling Dropped Out: 17 Reason: "Hey girl, would you still love me if I was a high school dropout?" Um, yes. After doing his Mickey Mouse Club thing, "The Notebook" actor returned to his native Canada when the show was cancelled. He didn't last long up north though, and headed to Los Angeles shortly after to pursue his big-screen aspirations
  • George Harrison is also a high school dropout like fellow Beatle Ringo Starr.
  • Paris Hilton Dropped Out: 11th Grade Reason: Boarding up the heiress in a Connecticut high school didn't quite work as planned as she was quickly expelled for violating rules. But if you fail, try and try again, right? Well, that's what the socialite-turned-singer tried to do at an exclusive NYC high school, but it wasn't long before she left there as well.
  • Mike Hudack dropped out at 16. In 2005, he founded Blip.tv, a hosting platform for creators of digital video content.
  • Jay-Z dropped out of high school and took to the streets, dealing drugs to make money. In 1995, he took his first single to Def Jam Records and the rest is history.
  • Billy Joel dropped out of high school to pursue a performing career. He released his first solo album "Cold Spring Harbor" in 1970.
  • Elton John Dropped Out: 16 Reason: After entering London's Royal Academy of Music on a piano scholarship at age 11, the now Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member became bored with classical compositions and quit school to do some rock'n'roll piano playing at a local pub.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones dropped out of high school at 15 to pursue an acting career in the British theatre. She went on to win an Oscar for her performance in "Chicago."
  • David Karp dropped out at 15. Tumblr
  • Kirk Kerkorian dropped out of the eighth grade, became an amateur boxer, World War II fighter pilot and mega-resort tycoon. It all began when Kerkorian purchased a piece of land in Las Vegas in 1962 and opened the original MGM Grand seven years later.
  • Nicole Kidman Dropped Out: 16 Reason: This Oscar winner dropped out to pursue her one and only dream of becoming an actress. After building an Australian acting career for several years, the US market picked up on the starlet after her role in "Dead Calm" and ditched her home down under for one in Hollywood.
  • Avril Lavigne Dropped Out: 15 Reason: After an impromptu performance for a music producer on a weekend trip in New York, the Canadian singer-songwriter landed a record deal. She admits her family did have plans for homeschooling her, but those fell through as her music career took off.
  • Jude Law dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career. Law went on to star in great films like "Road to Perdition," "Closer" and "A.I."
  • Heath Ledger dropped out of high school and went on to star in several important movies. In "Brokeback Mountain" he fearlessly helped engage society in a conversation on gay rights and he changed the way we look at "comic book movies" with his portrayel of the Joker in "The Dark Knight."
  • Joe Lewis left school at the age of 15 to run his father's catering business, Tavistock Banqueting. Through his Tavistock Group, Lewis has interest in more than 200 companies, which include the London Premiership soccer team Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs)
  • Carl Lindner Jr. During the Great Depression, 14 year-old Carl Lindner Jr. dropped out of school to deliver milk for his family’s dairy company. Lindner opened up an ice cream shop with his two brothers that became the United Dairy Farmers chain
  • Lindsay Lohan Dropped Out: 11th Grade Reason: Lilo decided to take the child stardom she earned from "The Parent Trap" and run with it. The former child star started getting homeschooled before being offered a leading role in her career high film -- 2004's "Mean Girls."
  • Courtney Love may be a high school drop out, but she is also a successful musician and actress.
  • Ewan McGregor dropped out of high school, but went on to work with some of Hollywood's greatest directors including Danny Boyle, George Lucas and Baz Luhrmann.
  • George Michael didn't have "Faith" that he would get his diploma so he dropped out of high school.
  • Marilyn Monroe Dropped Out: 15 Reason: Back in the days when she was still Norma Jean, iconic photographs of her were yet to be made and she hadn't stared in famous films, Miss Monroe attended high school like everybody else. That is, until she left to become "Mrs. Dougherty" and married policeman James (Jimmy) at just 16 years old.
  • Demi Moore dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to pursue a career in acting.
  • David H. Murdock dropped out at 14. After World War II, Murdock bought his first business, a Detroit diner, and sold it several months later for a $700 profit. Now, after a lifetime of buying, building and selling, he's worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes.
  • Kelly Osbourne Dropped Out: 10th Grade Reason: Looks like this rocker's daughter is having the last laugh now -- she said goodbye to school two years early after struggling from being bullied about her weight. In addition, the family traveled a lot so she decided starring on one of the first hit reality shows, "The Osbournes" and releasing her debut album were better alternatives.
  • Amancio Ortega At around the age of 14, Amancio Ortega left school and began running errands for local shops. In 1975 he founded Zara, which would become an empire in the fashion world by expanding aggressively and controlling much of its own supply chain.
  • Kelly Osbourne dropped out of high school and went on to have a successful career.
  • Ozzy Osbourne was never a fan of school. This drop out went on to have an insanely successful music career and his show "The Osbournes" revolutionized reality TV.
  • Al Pacino Dropped Out: 17 Reason: After a giving a less than stellar academic performance, the Oscar winner now famous for his roles in "Scarface" and "The Godfather" dropped out of New York's School for the Performing Arts to take on side jobs to support his acting career.
  • Joaquin Phoenix dropped out of high school at an early age to start acting. Some of his early work includes "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Parenthood."
  • Francois Pinault dropped out at 11. Today, as the majority shareholder of fashion conglomerate PPR, the billionaire businessman owns high-end fashion houses including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.
  • Pink didn't need a high school diploma to realize her dreams of becoming a superstar.
  • Prince. Like fellow high school drop out David Bowie, it is hard to imagine Prince sitting in a classroom. The musical genius has went on to have tons of hit albums and has inspired countless artists over the years.
  • Richard Pryor has had many highs and lows in his life. Although Pryor dropped out of high school, he has taught the world everything about comedy.
  • Daniel Radcliffe had to drop out of high school. The Harry Potter star was spending all of his time studying magic at "Hogwarts."
  • Keanu Reeves began acting when he was 9 but he didn't pursue acting full time until getting expelled from high school at age 16. His hits include "The Matrix" series, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Speed."
  • Chris Rock may not have recieved a high school diploma, but his street smarts and observational skill are sharper than most.
  • Kid Rock dropped out of high school and went on to have a successful music career that spans the genres of rock, rap and country.
  • John D. Rockefeller only attended high school and brief bookkeeping studies at a commercial college before seeking employment at the age of 16.
  • Seth Rogen dropped out of high school to start working as an actor. He spent a lot of time on school sets while he working with Judd Apatow on "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared."
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped out of high school to pursue a career in body building. Who knew he would go on to become the Governor of California?
  • Charlie Sheen Dropped Out: 12th Grade Reason: The actor may have done some serious "winning" in the past couple years, but he certainly never received any accolades for attendance. Just a few weeks short of graduation, Sheen was expelled from Santa Monica High School for never coming to class and having incredibly poor grades. Had he made it, Sheen's coaches say he could have gone on to play baseball in college, but it looks like he'll just have to stick with portraying athletes in movies like "Major League" instead.
  • Frank Sinatra didn't need a high school diploma to become one of the most famous singers and actors of his generation.
  • Ringo Starr Dropped Out: 15 Reason: When the man behind the Beatles drumset was just six years old, he suffered two serious illnesses -- a ruptured appendix that left him in a 10-week coma and a subsequent fall that required additional hospital time. His last hospital visit came at the age of 15 and barely able to read or write, Starr traded a seat in the classroom for a job at an engineering firm. He picked up drumming as a hobby, joined a band and the rest is history.
  • Hilary Swan Dropped Out: 16 Reason: Between competing in the Junior Olympics and the Washington state swimming championships, the two-time Oscar winner just didn't have time for high school. She dropped out and landed her first big break on "The Next Karate Kid."
  • Quentin Tarantino dropped out at 15. Tarantino wrote the scripts for "True Romance" and "Natural Born Killers," but it was his directorial debut in "Reservoir Dogs" in 1992 that won him wide critical acclaim.
  • Charlize Theron says that she didn't fit in during high school. Dropping out of high school didn't hold Theron back as she went on to win an Oscar for her performance in the film "Monster."
  • Dave Thomas. Wendys. high school dropout
  • Uma Thurman is yet another "Pulp Fiction" participant who didn't finish high school. Thurman went on to collaborate with Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill 1 and 2.
  • John Travolta Dropped Out: 16 Reason: Before making singing and dancing his way to big roles in "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever," the actor dropped out of high school to act... as a high school student in "Welcome Back Kotter."
  • Steven Tyler didn't graduate high school, but he did have a successful music career with his group Aerosmith.
  • Mark Wahlberg Dropped Out: 13 or 14 Reason: It's no secret the singer-turned-actor had a rough childhood growing up in Boston. In his early teen years, Wahlberg had already had exposure to drugs and alcohol and was developing a pretty serious cocaine problem. Dropping out of high school came next, but the successful star has not just gotten clean -- he actually went back to pursue the high school diploma he never earned.
  • Naomi Watts dropped out of high school to pursue a career in acting. Through she had success in Australia, it wasn't until she appeared in David Lynch's film "Mulholland Drive" that Watt's became well known in Hollywood.
  • Michelle Williams dropped out of high school, but she spent a lot of time acting like she was still a student on the set of "Dawson's Creek."
  • Kate Winslet was bullied in high school and dropped out at the age of 16.

Got a GED or Equivalent


  • Danni Ahse, multimillionaire businesswoman, adult entertainment website operator, model, producer, dancer. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency degree.
  • Walter Anderson, publisher, editor. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency degree.
  • Mario Andretti, race-car driver, author. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency degree.
  • André Benjamin, aka André 3000, rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, member of OutKast. Dropped out of high school but later earned a high school equivalency degree.
  • Phil Collins dropped out of high school at 17 to join the air force. He later completed his GED.
  • George Foreman, heavyweight champion boxer, author, designer of the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine. Quit school in the ninth grade, but did get his GED. Never attended college.
  • Katy Perry Dropped Out: 15 Reason: While her song "Teenage Dream" included nothing about leaving high school a couple years before graduation, the California girl dropped her studies at Santa Barbara Don Pueblos High School to pursue her own teenage dreams. The former Christian music signer moved to Los Angeles to make it big, got her GED and has since made a couple hit albums along the way.
  • Jessica Simpson Dropped Out: 16 Reason: What's better than being a two-time Homecoming Queen nominee? Well, Jessica Simpson can certainly answer that question -- a record deal. The singer ended up dropping out of JJ Pearce High School after being signed to Columbia Records. But don't worry, she later earned a GED so she has no more excuses for not knowing the tuna is, in fact, the chicken of the sea.
  • Kristen Stewart Dropped Out: 13 Reason: According to the "Twilight" saga star, her teachers (not one, but all of them, she specified) failed her. The young actress said she had serious academic ambitions when she was growing up and opted to leave and go for homeschooling instead to at least receive her GED.

 

 High school graduates, no college


  • Calpernia Adams, showgirl, transsexual. Never attended college. As she noted, “My parents thought that college leads you away from God, so they hadn’t saved any money.”
  • Dianna Agron, actress. “I didn’t take the typical path and go to college after high school. Instead, I saved up money from teaching dance classes and moved to L.A.”
  • “Jennifer Aniston, actress, says getting a nose job was the best thing she ever did. But keep in mind, she didn’t go to college,
  • Peter Arnell, advertising executive. Never attended college. Talked his way into the advertising business after graduating from high school.
  • Billy Beane, baseball player, general manager, and statistician. Turned down a scholarship to Stanford to play as a professional baseball player.
  • Halle Berry, Oscar-winning actress. After high school, she moved to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling.
  • Ray Bradbury, science fiction author. Never went to college. “I never went to college. I went to the library.”
  • Robert Byrd, U.S. senator. Graduated from high school but could not afford to attend college.
  • Adam Carolla, comedian, radio/TV personality, podcast superstar. “He was a wrong-side-of-the-tracks North Hollywood high-school graduate who could barely read and who worked a series of menial jobs before breaking into radio and then TV” (Fast Company).
  • Amon G. Carter, multimillionaire oilman, civic promoter, newspaper publisher, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Never finished eighth grade.
  • Tom Carvel, inventor of the soft-serve ice cream machine, founder of Carvel ice cream stores. Did not attend college. Before he began selling ice cream, he was an auto mechanic, Dixieland band drummer, and test driver for Studebaker.
  • Winston Churchill, British prime minister, historian, artist. Rebellious by nature, he generally did poorly in school. Flunked sixth grade. After he left Harrow, he applied to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, but it took him three times before he passed the entrance exam. He graduated 8th out of a class of 150 a year and a half later. no college.
  • Grover Cleveland, U.S. president (22nd and 24th). Never attended college. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • Taylor Cole, actress and model. Started modeling after graduating from high school.
  • Lauren Conrad, reality show actress, bestselling novelist, fashion designer. Moved to Los Angeles fresh out of high school to pursue acting. Never attended college.
  • Tom Cruise, actor, producer. Never attended college.
  • John Paul DeJoria, billionaire co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair care products and founder of Patron Spirits tequilla. Joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school. After the Navy, he spent time doing many odd jobs, sometimes living out of a car, before finding an entry-level marketing job with Time magazine.
  • Dom DeLuise, comedian, actor. Graduated from high school, but never attended college. Instead, he began acting at the Cleveland Play House.
  • Patrick Demarchelier, fashion photographer. His stepfather gave him a Kodak camera when he was 17. He started working at a photography store right away and never attended college.
  • Richard DeVos, billionaire co-founder of Amway (now Alticor), owner of Orlando Magic basketball team. Served in the Army after high school. Founded Amway along with his best friend Jay Van Andel.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, actor. At the age of 14, he signed with an agent and began doing commercial work as well as acting. He complete high school with a tutor, but put off college. As he has noted, “Life is my college now.”
  • Bo Diddley (Ellas Otha Bates), rock & roll singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Never attended college.
  • Snoop Dogg, rapper and actor. Never attended college. “A lot of people like to fool you and say that you’re not smart if you never went to college, but common sense rules over everything. That’s what I learned from selling crack.”
  • Zac Efron, actor, singer. Has not attended college, but also has not ruled out more study.
  • Perry Farrell (Peretz Bernstein), musician, Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros, and Satellite Party. Also producer and founder of the Lollapalooza music tour. Never attended college.
  • Craig Ferguson, late night talk show host. As he noted recently, “Economists are saying that a college degree may not be necessary to succeed in life. Look at me, I didn’t go to college and here I am. Seriously kids, go to college.”
  • Sally Field, Oscar-winning and Emmy-winning actress. Never attended college.
  • Millard Fillmore, U.S. president. Six months of formal schooling. Studied law while a legal clerk for a judge and law firm. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • Eddie Fisher, singer and actor. Never attended college. Began his singing career while still in high school.
  • Megan Fox, actress. Tested out of high school via correspondence and moved to Los Angeles. Landed a role in a movie after only two months. Never attended college.
  • J. B. Fuqua, industrialist, philanthropist. Never attended college, but learned about business by checking out books from the Duke University library through the mail. Later donated $36 million to support a business school at Duke.
  • Alan Gerry, billionaire cable TV executive, philanthropist. Dropped out of high school during World War II to join the Marines. Trained as a TV repairman on the GI bill. Launched his cable business with $1,500 in 1956.
  • David Green. .Hobby Lobby - graduated high school
  • Rachael Ray. This cooking TV show star, author and businesswoman never attended college, and doesn't have any formal training in the culinary arts. Her net worth is a cool $60 million. Pretty good for someone who doesn't have qualifications in the field she works in.

Some college


  • Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian. Dropped out of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Eike Batista, billionaire mining executive. Studied matallurgy at the University of Aachen, Germany. Dropped out of college. Now one of the top 10 richest men in the world.
  • James Cameron, Oscar-winning director, producer, and screenwriter. Dropped out of California State University, Fullerton. Then took up street racing while working as a truck driver and a high school janitor, eventually getting a job building models for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.
  • Julia Carson, U.S. congress representative, did not graduate from college. She was the first woman and first African American to represent Indianapolis.
  • Barry Diller, billionaire, Hollywood mogul, Internet maven, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp (owner of Ask.com, Ticketmaster, CitySearch, Evite, LendingTree.com, etc.). The son of a wealthy real estate developer, he attended Beverly Hills High School but dropped out of UCLA to work in the mail room of William Morris.
  • Clint Eastwood, Oscar-winning actor, director, and producer. Attended at least half a dozen schools and excelled at none of them. Enrolled at Los Angeles City College, but never graduated. Among other jobs, he bagged groceries, delivered papers, fought forest fires, and dug swimming pools. Also worked as a steelworker and logger.
  • Larry Ellison. .oracle - droppe out of two colleges
  • Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies. Founded the company when she was a 21-year-old mother with no business experience. Did not graduate from college.
  • Sean Flynn, actor, photojournalist. Son of Errol Flynn, Sean left Duke University after his freshman year to star in The Son of Captain Blood. He later became a famous photojournalist covering the Vietnam War where he apparently died (MIA and still unaccounted for).
  • Harrison Ford, actor. Dropped out of Ripon College. He worked as a carpenter for almost ten years before finding success as an actor in Star Wars and other movies.
  • John Forsythe, actor. He won an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina but he left after three years to pursue a career in show business. He started out as an announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers and then, noting that he liked to eat in the winter, left to pursue acting.
  • Bill Gates entered Harvard in the fall of 1973, only to drop out two years later to found Microsoft
  • Steve Jobs. Image credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock. ...college drop out.
  • Kevin Rose. ...co-founded Revision3, Pownce and Milk, but is probably most known for his involvement with Digg. Two years of college

Still Confirming

  • Michael Dell. ...Dell Computers ????? -
  • S. Daniel Abraham, billionaire founder of Slim-Fast. Joined the Army at the age of 18 and fought in Europe during World War II. Did not attend college.
  • Eddy Arnold, country music singer and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was 11 when his father died, so he turned to singing at church picnics and other venues to support his family. By the age of 17, he was singing in nearby honky-tonks and made his first radio appearance. He debuted at the Grand Ole Opry in 1943. Between 1945 and 1983, 145 of his songs made the country charts, with 28 of them at #1. He sold more than 85 million records.
  • V. V. Brown, singer. After attending a top-line prep school, she left England at the age of 18 to got to Los Angeles to make an album. Later returned to England but never went to college.
  • Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable.com. Founded the blog website when he was 19. Retired from active blogging three years later.
  • Coco Chanel (Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) fashion designer. Left the orphanage at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a cabaret singer.
  • Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel. Started the company when he was a high school senior. No college.
  • Chingy, aka Howard Bailey Jr., rapper. Began writing lyrics at the age of 9 and recording raps when he was 10. no college.

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