A degree from a university is an instant ticket to success, right? For many years high school students were taught the importance of a college degree. For many the lack of university education meant a ticket to a lifetime of menial labor, working for lower wages than those earned by university graduates.
However, that’s not always the case. Some of the world’s most successful people enrolled in schools of higher learning only to dropout before graduation. Here we take a look at the most famous dropouts who proved a degree isn’t necessarily the only ticket to fame.
List of Top 10 Most Famous University Dropouts of All Time until in 2017
10. OPRAH WINFREY
Oprah Winfrey has come a long way from an impoverished beginning in rural Mississippi where she was born to a single mother. The “queen of all media” moved to Milwaukee where she was raised in the inner city. Beginning in radio, Winfrey eventually moved to Chicago where she became a news anchor. Her natural talents landed her an afternoon talk show which became syndicated across America. This launched Oprah to stardom and riches. Winfrey’s worth is an estimated $2.9 billion dollars. Not bad, considering she dropped out of Tennessee State University.
9. SYLVESTER STALLONE
“Yo Adrienne! I flunked out of college!” The star of the “Rocky” and “Rambo” franchises was born in New York and raised by his father Frank, who was a hairdresser, and mother, Jackie, an astrologer. After high school Stallone attended the University of Miami before dropping out and moving to Switzerland, where he struggled to become an actor. Eventually, Stallone would write and star in the first “Rocky” movie, which propelled him to stardom. Sly is worth an estimated $400 million dollars.
8. BILL GATES
William Henry Gates began life in Seattle, Washington, the son of an attorney. Gates excelled in school, scoring 1590 out of a possible 1600 on his SAT. Enrolled at Harvard College, Gates spent a lot of time on the school’s computers taking graduate level computer science classes. Seeing a future in software development Gates dropped out of school. He collaborated with Paul Allen, eventually beginning their company Micro-Soft. Today, this university dropout enjoys a fortune of over $81 billion dollars.
7. LADY GAGA
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born in New York City, and was playing the piano by age four. She was writing songs at 13 and performing one year later. After performing in high school musical and theatrical productions she enrolled in New York University, but dropped out in her sophomore year. After starting her own band, Lady Gaga was soon discovered by a talent scout. The scout introduced her to a record producer. Having sold over 27 million albums, and multiple Grammy awards, she is now worth over $275 million dollars.
6. JULIAN ASSANGE
The elusive founder of “WikiLeaks” is either famous or infamous, depending on your political views. While his worth of $400,000 dollars pales in comparison to a Bill Gates, for example, there is no denying his notoriety. Born in Australia, Assange won numerous awards in journalism before founding WikiLeaks and exposing secret Iraqi and Afghan war logs. Assange hacked into the Pentagon, the U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, Citibank, and several other entities. To avoid further prosecution, Assange sought, and was granted, asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange continued to leak private documents, including emails from the Democratic National Committee, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Assange was a student at Central Queensland University and The University of Melbourne but failed to graduate from either school.
5. TIGER WOODS
Born Eldrick Tont Woods in 1975, Tiger Woods went on to become one of the greatest professional golfers of all time. Winning dozens of tournaments, including being a five time Masters champion, Woods has won fourteen major golf championships. His career has been marred by recurring injuries and repeated marital infidelity, both which contributed to his career decline. However, Woods’ natural athletic abilities catapulted him to stardom and a worth of over $720 million dollars, despite dropping out of Stanford University after just two years. He is one amongst the Top 10 Most Famous University Dropouts of All Time until 2017.
4. RUSH LIMBAUGH
For three hours each day, five days per week, over 13 million listeners listen to Rush Limbaugh’s rambling political monologues on hundreds of radio stations across America. Limbaugh’s popularity soared because of his legions of devotees, as well as detractors. Politicians either fear him or embrace him, depending on whether they have found his favor. Rush managed to combine political commentary with entertainment and is largely credited with saving AM radio. Flunking out of Southeast Missouri State University after only two semesters hasn’t seemed to hinder his success: Limbaugh’s fame is possibly exceeded only by his bank account, which is worth in excess of $500 million dollars.
3. STEVEN SPIELBERG
Undeniably one of Hollywood’s most successful movie directors, Steven Spielberg got an early start at movie making, filming an 8MM train wreck film with two of his Lionel toy trains at age 8. He earned a merit badge as a Boy Scout by filming his first western, again, with an 8MM camera. The man who would eventually direct such films as “Jaws,” “Indiana Jones,” and “Schindler’s List” wasn’t as successful in academics. First being turned down by the University of Southern California for a poor grade average, he then dropped out of California State University. Despite his lack of scholastic achievement, Spielberg excelled in film making and has amassed assets of over $3 billion dollars.
2. JOHN LENNON
In 1960, the kid from Liverpool co-founded a band called The Quarrymen. You may know them better as The Beatles, the most commercially successful band of all time. Along with Paul McCartney, John Lennon wrote hundreds of songs and dozens of hits both with the Beatles and as a solo artist. Unfortunately, Lennon was gunned down in New York in 1980, at the age of 40. His murderer, Mark David Chapman, remains in prison. Lennon, who was thrown out of the Liverpool College Art before his final year, ultimately achieved massive fame and a fortune in excess of $800 million dollars at the time of his death.
1. MARK ZUCKERBERG
If you’re on Facebook, (and who isn’t?) you know who Mark Zuckerberg is. What you may not know is he is a college dropout, failing to graduate from the prestigious Harvard University. Many kids his age played video games, but Mark’s father is quoted as saying, “Mark created video games.” After collaborating with several fellow Harvard students, Zuckerberg developed Facebook while in his dormitory. Today, over one billion people connect on the premiere social media network, and Zuckerberg’s invention has propelled him to his position as the fifth richest person in the world, worth over $50 billion dollars.
These above are the Top 10 Most Famous University Dropouts of All Time until 2017. A university degree can be your ticket to success. But as we see, some people achieved fame and fortune without the benefits a degree brings.