Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts
You don’t have to go to college to be a success. Even if you go for awhile, you don’t have to graduate to be a success. Here are just a few of the people who have become famous and/or successful without graduating from college and/or high school.
Lil Nas X (nee Montero Lamar Hill), rapper. He dropped out of college to pursue his passions.
Hiroshi Yamauchi, multi-millionaire CEO of Nintendo. He dropped out of college.
Jerry Yang, billionaire co-founder of Yahoo! He dropped out of the Stanford University PhD program to create Yahoo!
Donald James Yarmy, see Don Adams.
Adam Yauch, aka MCA of the Beastie Boys, rapper, songwriter, film director, Buddhist. He attended Bard College for two years before dropping out.
Chuck Yeager, test pilot and flying ace. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Force. He never attended college.
Anton Yelchin, actor. He dropped out of the University of Southern California to continue pursuing acting.
I was going to go to USC and study political theory, but I really love movies. They’re pretty much my favorite things, so I figured I would just keep doing this. — Anthon Yelchin
Ella Yelich-O’Connor, aka Lorde, singer and songwriter. She has not yet attended college.
Sheldon Yellen, multimillionaire CEO of Belfor Holdings. He dropped out of high school early to work to help his family out. He started his first job at the age of 11.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were Dropouts, including Jerry Yang, Adam Yauch, Anton Yelchin, Sheldon Yellen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alan Young, Dick Yuengling, among others Click To Tweet
Milo Yiannopoulos, gay political activist, bestselling author, speaker. He dropped out of college.
Chaleo Yoovidhya, billionaire founder of Red Bull. He had little formal education, but he still founded a pharma business in the 1960s that developed eventually into the Red Bull energy drink business.
Alan Young, comedian and actor. In high school, he had his own comedy radio series on the CBC. During World War II, he served for a short time in the Royal Canadian Navy before moving to Toronto and resuming his radio career. He’s best known for his role in role in the Mister Ed situation comedy series.
Wong Kwong Yu, billionaire founder of the Gome retail stores. He left school at the age of 16.
Dick Yuengling, billionaire owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son, America’s oldest brewery. He dropped out of Lycoming College after one year to work in the family business.
Zayn, see Zayn Malik.
Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), rapper, entrepreneur, owner of Rocawear clothing, co-owner of New Jersey Nets basketball team. He never attended college.
I’m a thinker. I figure things out. I don’t have a high level of education, but I’m practical—and I have great instincts. — Jay-Z
There are only about 10 to 20 rappers that are in the game making money with album after album. Do the math and get your education. — Jay-Z
Babe Didrikson Zaharias, golfer, basketball player, Olympic track and field star. She did not attend college.
David Zalik, billionaire founder of GreenSky financing. He never attended high school. Instead he enrolled at Auburn University at the age of 13. He dropped out of Auburn to build his computer-assembly company, Microtech (which he sold for several million dollars when he was 22).
Frank Zappa, rock musician. He probably dropped out of college. As he noted in liner notes for his Freak Out album, “Drop out of school before your mind rots from our mediocre educational system.”
Danny Zappin, CEO of Maker. He dropped out of Ohio State University and later a local Florida college to work on video.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were Dropouts, including Jay-Z, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Frank Zappa, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Emile Zola, Mark Zuckerberg, among others Click To Tweet
Nora Angela Zehetner, actress. She attended the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, an early college entrance program at the University of North Texas for students interested in mathematics or science. At the age of 18 she moved to California to pursue an acting career. She hasn’t attended college.
Barry Zekelman, billionaire steel maker. After his father died, he took over the family’s steel business at the age of 19. He never attended college.
Catherine Zeta-Jones, actress. She dropped out of school at the age of 15 to join a touring production of The Pajama Game.
Robert Zimmerman, see Bob Dylan.
Emile Zola, French novelist. He failed his baccalaureate, which I believe is the French way of saying he did not graduate from college.
Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire founder of Facebook. He dropped out of Harvard to continue working on the social networking website he founded in his dorm room in 2004. Facebook has more than 1,500 million users.Frank Zappa, rock musician. As he noted in liner notes for his Freak Out album: Drop out of school before your mind rots from our mediocre educational system. Click To Tweet
If you know of any other famous, successful, or rich people who did not graduate from high school and/or college, please comment below. Thanks!
More: The College Dropouts Hall of Fame