Insanely Successful College Dropouts All Had This One Thing In Common

There is an extremely high pressure put on many young people to attain a degree.  Most higher-paying jobs require a minimum of 4 years of school and a proven track record in that field before their hiring committee will even look seriously at your resume.  For school dropouts without a diploma, from high school or a university, this can be disheartening and financially devastating.


The funny thing is that thinking outside the box can yield greater results than being a “cookie-cutter” job searcher.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at these 3 high-profile individuals. They are all school dropouts who achieved success.

1. Mark Zuckerberg

This guy has a high school diploma – but dropped out of college his sophomore year.  He used the resources available to him to learn how to make a great product, and to his delight, it turned into a highly profitable business.  Just how profitable is it?  As of March 2015, just eleven years after the launching of Facebook, his personal wealth is currently estimated at $35.1 billion.

Mr. Zukerberg is a great example of a man who did not let the lack of a diploma limit his opportunity.

2. Peter Jackson

A high school dropout, Mr. Jackson had a hobby that he just couldn’t get enough of: filming.  He started small, working a day job and making entertaining films at night.  In the end, his self-motivation and love for what he did began to pay off – with a multi-billion dollar Lord of the Rings franchise.

Even in the early years he realized that he had his fingertips on the key to his career – a high school diploma was not needed in this endeavor.

3. Billy Joel

Billy Joel meant to finish high school, but found out his senior year that he was a single credit short of a diploma, joining the ranks of other school dropouts.  Rather than let that inhibition stop him, Billy Joel started his own career (“company,” if you will) as a music artist. His incredible talent and dedication has earned him a way to the top of the charts – and millions of dollars along the way.

His old high school awarded him an honorary diploma 25 years later, proving that true education and success is more than a credit or class session.

What You Can Learn from Those Guys

The three examples above are meant to illustrate a point that success is not measured by the presence or lack of a diploma.

If you are currently a school dropout and wondering what options are open for your career, keep these 5 things in mind:

1. Maintain a Student Mentality

It is valuable to spend time focused on learning and education – whether in a classroom or in the school of life.  A student mentality keeps high-profile CEOs and Presidents at the cutting edge of their industry, no  matter their age or previous accomplishments.

Similar to the school dropouts here, always keep an eye out for opportunities available to you to increase your experience or knowledge, whether it be a conference,  a conversation with a professional, or a simple trip online.

2. Be Willing to Take a Risk

Nothing is achieved without risk, but make sure the risk you take is calculated and well-researched. Learn the discipline of saving money and investing in worthwhile endeavors in order to reap financial rewards. In fact, certain school dropouts are likely to become excellent risk managers because they enter the working work much earlier than their peers.

3. Research the Business Opportunities Available

For school dropouts, owning or managing a business is extremely rewarding, offering flexibility and possibilities unlike any other job.  To keep the endeavor from being over daunting and intimidating, research the options in your area well:

  • A coffee shop – are you a laid-back artist who would like to foster an environment that promotes fellowship and great java?
  • A car wash – do you enjoy helping people and providing a valuable service – but don’t want to work 12-14 hour days to do it?
  • A mini golf – does a seasonal business with vacationing families and putt-putt as its focus sound like your cup of tea?

4. Commit to a Plan

Whether you are starting up a coffee shop, car wash, mini golf – or anything else – pick a plan and stick to it.  It typically takes a year or two to get into the groove of running your own business and figuring out what works, how to improve, and how to budget your business income well. So, if you are planning to dropout of school, commit to a plan after dropping out.

Don’t let yourself be disheartened by the lack of instant glamorous success – good things come to those who work hard and do not give up! School dropouts have to be persistent in their efforts.

5. Enjoy Your Adventure

What is the use of owning a business if you don’t enjoy it?  Take time to smell the roses, talk to your customers, and get excited about working for yourself.

Keep In Mind…

It is incredibly important however, that you remember this one thing before you withdraw from your classes. These college dropouts are an exception to the rule because they put in the work before they dropped out. You cannot simply throw in the towel and take the next full-time job offered to you expecting incredible success and wealth. It is essential to remember that these people dropped out of college because they had a project they believed in so much so that they decided to throw themselves into it head first and whole heartedly. If you have not found that project or invention yet, do not drop out. Continue your studies while you find your passion. After all, that is what college is for.

Whether or not you have a diploma is really irrelevant in the long run – education is always valuable, but can be found in many places.

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