15 Wildly Successful High School Drop Outs

Let’s say that your child decides to drop out of high school. For most, this would be a great big stamp of FAIL on your parenting record. But school, and what it can offer, is apparently not for everyone. However, in some cases, just because your kid drops out doesn’t mean he or she will not be successful. Vivek Wadhwa (a fellow at Stanford Law School) told the Associated Press that quitting school is akin to “buying a lottery ticket — that’s how good your odds are here. More likely than not, you will become unemployed. For every success, there are 100,000 failures.”

But this week David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, sold his company to Yahoo for more than a billion dollars. A company he built, grew, and sold without having a high school degree. And he’s not the only wildly successful high school drop out who succeeded without a full-school education. Check out our list of 15 successful high school drop outs right here:

  • 15 Successful High School Drop Outs 1 of 16
  • Thomas Edison 2 of 16

    Our world would not be the same if it wasn't for Thomas Edison. This inventor had over 1,000 patents, and he invented such monumental items as the electric light bulb, the motion picture camera, and the record player. During this lifetime, he became a self-made millionaire and received the Congressional Gold Medal.

    When he was in school, his mind reportedly wandered a whole lot. He quit school after a couple of months, and his mother took over his education. Luckily for him, she was a school teacher — looks like she did an amazing job!

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Benjamin Franklin 3 of 16

    Benjamin Franklin came from a very large family — he was 15th child of 20. Yes, 20. He grew up to become one of America's founding fathers, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, an author, a scientist and an inventor. Impressive to say the least. He only went to the Boston Latin School school for two years before he quit and and went to work for his father...at the age of 10!

    Photo Source: WikiCommons



  • John D. Rockefeller 4 of 16

    John D. Rockefeller, America's first billionaire, quit high school just two months before graduation. He did it for a good reason: he was anxious to start business classes at Folsom Mercantile College. Ironically, this high school drop out has, through his charitable gifts, helped thousands of students get a good education.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Walt Disney 5 of 16

    Walt Disney, one of the most important names in entertainment, dropped out of high school when he was just 16. He quit in order to join the army and fight in the war. He was too young to join, so he forged his birth date. He worked as an ambulance driver in Europe. He never continued his schooling, but instead forged his own path and never stopped learning.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Sir Richard Branson 6 of 16

    Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Records, and Virgin Mobile fame quit school when he was 16. He reportedly suffered from dyslexia and was not a successful student, but it turns out he had the gift to become a very successful businessman.

    Photo Source: PR Photos

  • Colonel Harland Sanders 7 of 16

    Harland David Sanders, the man behind Kentucky Fried Chicken, dropped out of school in 6th grade so he could work full-time and help his family financially. He went on to work as a farmhand, a streetcar conductor, a soldier, a railroad man, and an insurance salesman. He also: started a steamboat ferry company, was the secretary of the Columbus chamber of commerce, launched a manufacturing company making lamps, got his law degree and became a lawyer for a short time, and then finally opened a gas station. At the gas station, he began to serve food — particularly his fried chicken. And that fried chicken became was his big success.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

  • Charles Dickens 8 of 16

    Charles Dickens was attended elementary school until his father was sent to prison for debt. He quit school at age 12 and worked in a boot-blacking factory, working 10 hour shifts. He left that job to become a law clerk and court stenographer. He then got work as a journalist, covering elections for a newspaper. And thus, a writer was born!

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Ray Kroc 9 of 16

    Ray Kroc did not create McDonald's, but he was the man to make it the most successful restaurant chain in history...and he wasn't even a scholarly man! He quit school at 15, lied about his age, and became an ambulance driver in Europe during World War 1.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Harry Houdini 10 of 16

    Harry Houdini was a master of magic, but not of school. The legendary magician dropped out of school when he was just 12 years old. He took on a variety of odd jobs, including a locksmith's apprentice. Now we know where he learned his elaborate escape techniques! 

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Dave Thomas 11 of 16

    Dave Thomas of Wendy's fame began working in in restaurants when he was just 12 years old. He dropped out of school at 15 and worked full time at a restaurant in Fort Wayne. After joining the army, he worked at, bought, and eventually sold a few KFC franchises. He then started his own fast food destination, which he named for his daughter Wendy.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

  • George Eastman 12 of 16

    Photography pioneer George Eastman of Kodak fame dropped out of school at the age of 14. He was forced to go to work after the untimely death of his father. Eastman worked as an office boy, but found a passion for developing photographs.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Quentin Tarantino 13 of 16

    Instead of attending high school (or college, for that matter), Academy Award winning director/writer Quentin Tarantino was educated at a video rental store in Manhattan Beach, California. He quit high school for good when he was in the 9th grade.

    Photo Source: PR Photos

  • Peter Jennings 14 of 16

    Legendary news anchor Peter Jennings got his start in TV when he was just 9 (his father was an anchor). Although he was a good athlete in school, he was apparently a horrible student due to "boredom." He quit school in 10th grade.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Peter Jackson 15 of 16

    Director Peter Jackson knew what he wanted to do at a very young age. He began making his own films when he was only 9. He quit school at 16 and worked as an engraving apprentice in a newspaper photography department. Jackson saved his money to buy supplies to make his first feature, a film named Bad Taste.

    Photo Source: PR Photos

  • David Karp 16 of 16

    David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, just sold the online blogging forum to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. Yes, over a billion dollars. Karp left high school at the age of 16, after a couple of years of being home schooled. He stopped taking classes so he could put his energy towards his passion.

    "That is not a path that I would haphazardly recommend to kids out there," he said to the Associated Press regarding dropping out of high school. "I was in a very unique position of knowing exactly what I wanted to do at a time when computer science education certainly wasn't that good in high school in New York City."

    Photo Source: Marco Arment via WikiCommons

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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