Today marks the beginning of the academic school year for students across the country, from elementary school through university. Parents with younger kids jump for joy while their children groan that summer has ended. While some students pout, others look forward to back to school and find the leisure time of summer to be boring.
But perhaps those students who groan at the prospect of school are not simply ‘disobedient.’ In fact, several politicians, entertainers, and inventors found school to be such a nuisance they dropped out — only to find success and fame later on. Here are 8 folks who made a name for themselves without earning a standard education:
Everyone knows Edison invented the electric light bulb, but do they known he also patented the phonograph, motion picture camera, and almost a thousand other productions? But Edison didn’t do well in school, partly due to an illness which resulted in a late start on his education. Since he wasn’t excelling, Edison dropped out but still benefited from a home-schooled education as his mother was a schoolteacher.
Diana Spenser not only failed out of her all-girls high school, but after transferring to a finishing school in Switzerland she didn’t last there either. Diana worked as an assistant at a day care center and nursery school but never taught kindergarden, as she lacked the academic qualifications. But when she became engaged to Prince Charles at age 19, Diana didn’t really have to worry about working anymore.
The celebrated Victorian author left school at age 12 when his father was incarcerated for debt. Dickens took employment in a factory working 12-hour days, and later as a law clerk and court stenographer. While working as a journalist covering election campaigns he worked on a collection of stories which eventually turned into The Pickwick papers — his first novel.
Gates is co-founder of Microsoft software, and remains one of the richest people ever. But he didn’t get where he is with a college degree. Gates made it halfway through Harvard before dropping out with his friend Paul Allen. They both began writing software for the new Altair microcomputer Gates had read about, and within the blink of an eye Microsoft was formed.
‘Einstein’ — we use the man’s name today as terminology for someone who is a genius (usually in a sarcastic sense). But who would have thought the Nobel Prize-winning physicist was a college-dropout at age 15? Einstein wasn’t through with his education, and applied to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology only to be rejected. Realizing he needed to get a high school diploma first, Einstein returned to school, graduated, and then got into the Institute the next time around.
John D. Rockefeller
Rockefeller, along with Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan were a few of the men who built industrial America. Rockefeller dropped out of high school just two months before graduation in order to take business classes at a local college. He couldn’t wait those two months for his diploma, could he? Rockefeller is the first recorded billionaire in history, making his fortune after his founding Standard Oil Company.
Frustrated with his dyslexia, English-born Sir Richard Branson ditched school at 16 and moved to London where he started his first business — a publishing magazine called Student. Branson went on to establish Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, and now the space tourism company that is offering flights in outer space (at a hefty price tag).
Probably still the most famous magician of all time, Houdini, born Ehrich Weiss, left school at age 12 and worked a variety of jobs. When he was 17, he formed the Houdini Brothers with his magician friend Jack Hayman. By the time he was 24, Houdini had developed the Challenge Act — a trick where he escapes from any set of handcuffs brought to him. This act made him legend and kicked off his other famous escape acts.
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