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.
Johnny Earle, founder of Johnny Cupcakes. Dropped out of music school to sell limited-edition T-shirts out of the trunk of his '89 Camry. The Boston Globe has named him one of the most innovative business leaders in Massachusetts.
Steve Earle, singer, songwriter, actor, playwright. At 16, he dropped out of college to become a songwriter.
George Eastman, multimillionaire inventor and founder of Kodak. High school dropout.
Clint Eastwood, Oscar-winning actor, director, and producer. Attended at least half a dozen schools and excelled at none of them. Enrolled at Los Angeles City College, but never graduated. Among other jobs, he bagged groceries, delivered papers, fought forest fires, and dug swimming pools. Also worked as a steelworker and logger.
Mark Ecko, founder of urbanwear company Mark Ecko Enterprises. Left Rutgers University during his third year to start his company with his sister, Marci, who also left college to work on the business.
Thomas Edison, multimillionaire inventor of the phonograph, light bulb, and many other inventions. He quit formal schooling after his teacher called him addled. Was home-schooled by his mother. Joined the railroad at the age of 12.
John Edson, billionaire leisure craft manufacturer. Dropped out of the University of Washington. Started building boats in his garage.
Don Edwards, cowboy singer. Never finished high school.
Zac Efron, actor, singer. Has not attended college, but also has not ruled out more study. His biggest regret? Not going to college.
William Eggleston, photographic artist. A major retrospective of his work opened in November, 2008, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He attended Vanderbilt and the University of Mississippi without graduating. At Ole Miss, he did study painting which eventually led to his interest in artistic photography.
Albert Einstein, Nobel prize-winning physicist, discoverer of the General and Special Theories of Relativity. At the age of 15, he dropped out of prep school because of its militaristic bent. Then attended and earned a PhD from Zurich Polytechnic. At the age of 16, he conducted a thought experiment that led to his theory of relativity.
Reader Comment: You mention that Albert Einstein was a drop out. He actually wanted to skip some of the mundane subjects that he found to be extremely non-cerebral. In 1900, he graduated from the Federal Polytechnic in Zurich. It's regarded as one of the leading universities in the fields of chemistry and physics.
Daniel Ek, cofounder of Spotify, software engineer. After high school, he enrolled at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden to study engineering. After eight weeks, he dropped out. Via programming he became a millionaire by the age of 23.
Ansel Elgort, actor. Has not yet attended college.
Duke Ellington, bandleader, composer. Dropped out of high school.
Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of the University of Chicago after one year. Later also dropped out of the University of Illinois. Then discovered computer programming.
Queen Elizabeth II, queen of England. Tutored at the palace. Did not attend school.
Philip Emeagwali, supercomputer scientist. High school dropout: left school in native Nigeria due to war but later earned an equivalency degree. Won a scholarship to Oregon College of Education but transferred after one year to Oregon State University.
Eminem, rapper. Has a limited formal education, but "by the time I was 18 I had probably read the dictionary front to back like 10 times."
Israel Englander, billionaire hedge fund manager, Millennium Partners. Dropped out of NYU's MBA program to work as a floor manager at the American Stock Exchange.
Tom Epperson, novelist and screenwriter. After taking some classes at Henderson State University in Arkansas, he dropped out and headed for New York City to become a novelist. Four years later, he headed to Los Angeles to write screenplays.
Jennifer Esposito, actress, model, dancer. Has not attended college. After discovering she has celiac disease, the founded Jennifer's Way (http://www.jennifersway.com) to help others to learn how to live gluten-free. Has written a cookbook and founded a gluten-free bakery.
Chris Evans, actor. Took a year off after high school to move to New York and then Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor. Has not yet attended college.
Drop out of school before your mind rots from our mediocre educational system. — Frank Zappa, musician, liner notes from the Freak Out album
We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a belly-full of words and do not know a thing. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist
Copyright 2013 by John Kremer
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