20 College Dropouts Who Turned Out To Be Super Successful

Getting a college education is really helpful to further your career and your quality of life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t make it big if you don’t go. In fact, some of the most successful celebrities, business owners, athletes, and more, either dropped out of college or never set foot in one at all. You’ll be surprised who they are.

1. Brad Pitt

College: University of Missouri
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out weeks before graduating
Career: Actor
Net Worth: $300 million

That’s right, famous actor and unrefuted heartthrob Brad Pitt never finished his degree. In fact, he dropped out of the University of Missouri only a number of weeks before he was about to graduate with a degree in Journalism. He dropped out to chase his dream and his love of film, working odd jobs and taking minor roles for about a year until eventually making it big.

2. Mark Zuckerberg

College: Harvard University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after his second year
Career: CEO and Co-Founder of Facebook
Net Worth: $85.4 billion

Can you believe that one of the richest men on the planet dropped out of one of the best Universities right in the middle? What’s even crazier is that he created Facebook as a way to learn the names of the other students in his classes. After realizing he was wildly successful, he left school to continue making his dream a reality. 

3. Kanye West

College: American Academy of Art & Chicago State University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out of both schools after only briefly attending 
Career: Rapper, Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer, Composer, Entrepreneur, Fashion Designer 
Net Worth: $1.3 billion 

Kanye West gave it the “old college try” twice, before dropping out of both the American Academy of Art & Chicago State University to allow himself enough time to spend on his passion, creating music. Although he never officially graduated, Kanye does now hold an  ‘honorary doctorate degree’ which he received from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

4. Ralph Lauren

College: Baruch College
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after his second year
Career: Fashion Designer 
Net Worth: $5.7 billion 

Ralph Lauren now
The Rake

Hyper-successful fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, attended Baruch College in New York City for two years before dropping out and enlisting in the US Army, where he served from 1962 to 1964. He then went on to work as a tie salesman for Brooks Brothers, before eventually becoming one of the biggest fashion icons in the world. 

5. Mila Kunis 

College: UCLA & Loyola University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after a year
Career: Actor
Net Worth: $75 million 

Mila Kunis, who is now a super successful actress in both movies and television, originally enrolled in UCLA, but only ended up taking two classes before transferring over to Loyola University. She claims that she doesn’t even remember a single class from there, and eventually dropped out with her first year to pursue acting more seriously.

6. Common

College: Florida A&M University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after his second year
Career: Rapper, Actor, Writer, Philanthropist
Net Worth: $45 million 

Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn Jr., better known as Common, attended Florida A&M University on a full-scholarship where he studied business administration for only two years before dropping out to pursue his career in music. Years later, he gave the commencement speech to the graduating class of 2019, where he also received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree.

7. Bill Gates 

College: Harvard University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out during his second year
Career: Founder of Microsoft
Net Worth: $109.9 billion 

Bill Gates is known to Harvard as it’s “most successful dropout.” Before leaving school early to create his company, Gates recollects that he was so into his classes at school that he never socialized with anyone. In fact, his biggest regret isn’t dropping out, it’s not meeting enough people while he was there.

8. Ben Stiller

College: UCLA 
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after 9 months
Career: Actor 
Net Worth: $200 million 

Ben Stiller managed to remain in school for only 9 months before becoming totally impatient and wanting to start his acting career already. He left UCLA and moved directly to New York, where he managed to bag a few big roles and his acting career took off with flying colors. It’s a good thing he didn’t wait any longer.

9. Ashton Kutcher

College: University of Iowa
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after 
Career: Actor, Model, Investor, Producer
Net Worth: $200 million

Ashton Kutcher had a very different idea of how his career would turn out when he enrolled at the University of Iowa to pursue a Biomechanical Engineering degree. After winning a modeling contest (the Fresh Faces of Iowa), he ended up realizing his full potential and dropping out to become an actor and model.  

10. P Diddy

College: Howard University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after his second year
Career: Rapper, Singer, Record Producer, Fashion Designer
Net Worth: $885 million

Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Puffy, Diddy, or his birth name, Sean Combs originally attended Howard University to study business. After his second year, he ended up dropping out to instead take up an internship with Uptown Records in New York. This set him on the path to becoming a super-successful record producer, and though he didn’t finish school, he does thank Howard U for giving him a lot of insights he still uses today. The university later on awarded him with an honorary degree. 

11. Oprah Winfrey

College: Tennessee State University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out during her second year
Career: Talk Show Host, Actress, TV Producer, Media Executive, Philanthropist
Net Worth: $2.6 billion

During her sophomore year at Tennessee State University, Oprah Winfrey was offered a job at a local tv station. She ended up leaving school to begin her career in media left school to start her media career. Apparently, dropping out of college was one of the best decisions she ever made, as she is now one of the most successful and recognizable celebrities in the world. 

12. Lil’ Wayne

College: University of Houston 
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out during his first year
Career: Rapper, Producer, Music Executive
Net Worth: $150 million

You might not expect it, but Lil’ Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) was actually an honors student, and really appreciates education. However, he dropped out of high school at the young age of 14 to pursue his music career. After years of success, Wayne eventually got his GED and enrolled at the University of Houston. Unfortunately, he dropped out the very same year due to scheduling conflicts with touring and music. He did announce later that he enrolled himself at the University of Phoenix online and has been taking courses to try and earn his degree.

12. John Mackey

College: University of Texas at Austin &Trinity University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out multiple times over 6 years
Career: CEO and Founder of Whole Foods Market
Net Worth: $75 million

CEO and Founder of the hyper-successful Whole Foods Market grocery chain really had a hard time during his college years. Primarily because he found most of the required classes extremely boring and switched majors and universities multiple times, before dropping out completely to pursue his dream.

13. Lady Gaga

College: NYU 
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after her first year
Career: Singer, Songwriter
Net Worth: $275 million

Lady Gaga, (born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) enrolled at New York University at the Tisch School of the Arts. However, after only one year, she decided to drop out to pursue her career in music, full time. She started out small, singing at burlesque clubs, until finally getting signed by Interscope Records at only 20 years old.

14. Lil’ Yachty

College: Alabama State University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after two months
Career: Rapper
Net Worth: $8 million

From the very moment Lil’ Yachty started school at Alabama State University, he wanted to leave. He would constantly complain to his friends and family that he wasn’t meant to be in school, he was meant to be rich and famous making music. He didn’t even tell some of his closest friends that he had enrolled in college, that’s how much he didn’t want to go. After a measly two months, he listened to his gut and decided instead to pursue his dream of being a rapper.

15. John Mayer

College: Berklee College of Music
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after two semesters
Career: Singer, Songwriter
Net Worth: $70 million

There is a running joke about the Berklee College of Music in Boston, that many of the students never graduate. That certainly was the case with John Mayor, who dropped out after only two semesters because the coursework overwhelmed him’ he admits to getting only D’s and F’s the entire time. Of course, just because Berklee students drop out, doesn’t mean they don’t become super successful afterwards. 

16. Tiger Woods 

College: Stanford University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after his second year
Career: Professional Golfer
Net Worth: $800 million

Tiger Woods played golf for Stanford University for two years, until ultimately leaving the school to play professionally. Although he left prematurely, he still maintains a really good relationship with the school, as he had won them 11 championships during the two years he was enrolled there. He often attends games there and has even hosted a few of them at his own home. 

17. Natasha Bedingfield

College: University of Greenwich
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after her first year
Career: Singer, Songwriter
Net Worth: $10 million

The Rest Is Still Unwritten singer, Natasha Bedingfield is yet another successful college dropout. She attended the University of Greenwich for only a brief one year stint, before dropping out to pursue a full-time career in music.  

18. Ted Turner

College: Brown University
Time Spent Studying: Expelled after his third year
Career: Founder of CNN 
Net Worth: $2.1 billion 

Before founding the massive news outlet, CNN, Ted Turner was enrolled at Brown University. While he was planning on graduating from school, he ended up getting expelled for sneaking his girlfriend into the college dorm to live with him. Before his expulsion he was actually super into school, as he was vice-president of the Brown Debating Union, a member of fraternity Kappa Sigma, and even the captain of the sailing team. 

19. Zooey Deschanel

College: Northwestern University
Time Spent Studying: Dropped out after 9 months
Career: Actor 
Net Worth: $25 million 

Zooey Dechanel knew that college wasn’t for her after spending only 9 months learning at Northwestern University. She felt she did not have enough time to pursue her acting career seriously, so she dropped out and went for it. Needless to say it was the right move to make. 

20. John Lennon

College: Liverpool College of Art
Time Spent Studying: Expelled after his third year
Career: Singer, Songwriter, Peace Activist
Net Worth: $800 million

Revolutionary artist and free-spirit as he was, John Lennon was not a fan of school. From the very moment he walked in the doors of the Liverpool College of Art, he had trouble with his classes, his teachers, and his assignments. He failed his high school exams in the first place, and was only accepted because his parents intervened. He was thrown out of school before his last year, and went on to become one of the greatest musicians of all time. 

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Graduate or Die
Logo