Some of the Most Successful & Famous People Who Never Graduated High School

Some of the Most Successful & Famous People Who Never Graduated High School

In today’s world, education is placed at an extremely high premium. As the recession has hit the world, more and more professions are requiring higher levels of education before they hire. It seems that it isn’t even enough to get a bachelor’s degree. Now, graduate school is almost an absolute must in order to ensure a successful job.

It seems like education is the only path to financial and business success—or is it? While it may be true that education improves the path to success there are numerous people who have had ultra-successful lives and careers without graduating high school. That’s right, high school. There may be hope for those who haven’t gained significant education prowess after all. Here’s a list of several ultra-successful people in different industries who never graduated high school.

 

Dave Thomas - Founder of Wendy's

Photo/WikiMedia Commons User: Specious

Have you ever had a late night frosty? You know what I’m talking about. That delectable little shake (or something like a shake) that satisfies any and all late night desert cravings. Or maybe you splurged and purchased a junior bacon cheeseburger with fries. I think most of us have been to Wendy’s and many of us have this person to thank for satisfying the guiltiest of midnight food pleasures. Dave Thomas is the creator of Wendy’s, the popular American fast food chain. You probably recognize his face if you have ever been in the fast food restaurant. Dave dropped out of school at 15 years old. He became a millionaire at the age of 35 and started his first Wendy’s in the late 60’s, and now the chain has grown to be a national staple. He did all of that without a high school diploma early on (he did receive his diploma later in life).

 

Peter Jennings - Famous Newscaster

Then there’s the next person on our little list. If there was one job that seems impossible to do without a good education, it’s broadcasting. Some of the famous broadcasters of our day have gone to prestigious journalism schools and put in years of schooling to gain national recognition. This is, however, not the same for Peter Jennings. Peter Jennings has been a staple for nightly news for years. He made an illustrious career out of his unique broadcasting abilities, all without graduating high school. Peter apparently didn’t do very well scholastically at a younger age. He reportedly failed the 10th grade and never looked back. Apparently you don’t need to graduate high school to be successful in broadcast journalism.

 

Quentin Tarantino - Actor, Director and Writer

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffbalke/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

And now we move onto Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino is one of the most famous directors and writers of this movie generation. He has directed such movie hits as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, and a host of other very popular films. He is one of the most iconic and recognizable directors in the industry. He is constantly on TV and has established a very successful career in a nearly impossible industry. How far did Quentin Tarantino get in school? Well he made it just through the 9th grade, only to drop out and later become one of the most famous directors of his generation.

 

Johnny Depp - Actor

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicogenin/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you think about the most popular actors in the industry at this very time, you will probably circle through a short list of men that are constantly in the biggest blockbuster movies. Johnny Depp surely hits most people’s list of great actors. Johnny Depp has acted in many popular movies. Think about some of his roles. There was Edward Scissorhands back in the day. Then there are more recent classics like Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland. Depp has a unique ability to play challenging roles and provide wild entertainment throughout the length of any feature film. Depp has made millions of dollars and has made an internationally recognizable name in the movie industry. He accomplished all this after dropping out of high school.

 

Richard Branson - Founder of Virgin Records and other Virgin Brands

http://www.flickr.com/photos/techiediva/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Remember back in the day when you went to the record store to get the latest CD or record? This was of course during the days when iPods and mp3 players were a vision of the future. And do you remember where you went to find those records and CD’s? Most likely, it was at a Virgin Megastore. The Virgin empire has expanded to include a variety of services including airplanes. The mastermind behind this multi billion dollar company is Richard Branson. Branson created his first company at the tender age of 16. Coincidentally, this was also the age that Richard stopped going to school. Despite all his business success—and billions and billions of dollars—Richard Branson never graduated high school.

 

Walt Disney - Found of the Disney Empire

And then there’s the next man on our list. Can you think of the happiest place on earth? While different people might have different interpretations of just where this place is, I’m talking about the one and only place. Yes, in talking about Disneyland. While Disneyland may be the self proclaimed happiest place on earth, few can dispute its success in bringing smiles an memories to millions each year. When you really think about it, who do you know that hasn’t heard of Disneyland? And then there’s the Disney empire. You know Disney. It’s the company behind such classics as Cinderella, Snow White, and Fantasia—just to name a few. Or, what about that lovable character Mickey Mouse? Disney is one of the most famous, successful and recognizable names and companies in history. Walt Disney is the mastermind behind Disney. He accomplished unbelievable feats in the business world and revolutionized entertainment. The one thing Walt Disney didn’t do—graduate high school.

 

Tom Petty - Musician

Most people would feel like they were free falling after dropping out of high school, but not our last name on the list. Tom Petty, the international music icon has had unbelievable success all without a high school diploma. Seriously, think about it. How many people do you know that couldn’t hum the tune to a Tom Petty song? Ok, maybe not everyone knows who he is but many know his songs. Even the younger, rising generation knows Tom Petty almost as well as the generation that grew up with him. He will forever be an iconic figure in the history of rock and roll. What he doesn’t have, however, is a high school degree. Tom Petty dropped out of school around the age of 17 to pursue his career in entertainment.

 

While furthering one's education can help improve your chances of success, these examples do show that anything is possible. It may not work for everyone, these few select people successfully accomplished their goals and careers without ever graduating high school. Maybe a diploma isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.