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.
Andie MacDowell, Golden Globe-winning actress and model. Dropped out of Winthrop College during her sophomore year.
John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods and developer of Conscious Capitalism. Dropped out of the University of Texas six times. Never took a business course.
Harry Macklowe, billionaire real estate developer. Dropped out of college to become a real estate broker.
Steve Madden, shoe designer. Dropped out of college to sell shoes on Long Island.
Ivory Madison, comic book author and founder of the Red Room social network for authors. Dropped out of school at the age of 13. Eventually went to law school without finishing high school or attending college.
Sri Ramana Maharshi, Indian saint. Used the money his brother gave him for college fees to begin his spiritual journey to Arunachala Hill. Did not graduate from college.
John Major, British prime minister. High school dropout.
Howie Mandel, comedian, game show host. Was expelled from Toronto's Northview Heights secondary school for practical jokes gone too far. Finally got his GED in 2010.
Henning Mankell, author of 40 books. At the age of 16, he made a decision to go to the university of life. He left school and traveled for Paris to become a writer. During the next few years, he worked at a musical instrument shop, a merchant marine ship, and an African theater company.
Leslie Mann, actress and comedienne. After high school, she took a number of acting classes with Joanne Baron and then studied with the Groundlings improve troupe. Did not attend college.
Shirley Manson, singer. Dropped out of high school to sing backup for a few local bands in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Isaac Marion, author of Warm Bodies novel, installer of heating ducts, guard of power plants, supervisor of parental visits for foster children, etc. Did not attend college.
Laura Marling, singer, songwriter. Dropped out of school at the age of 16 and moved to London to pursue a music career.
Bruno Mars, singer, songwriter, music producer. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles and signed with Motown Records. He later wrote songs for other singers and release a bestselling record with Elektra.
Clancy Martin, ethics professor, novelist. Dropped out of high school, but later graduated from college. Dropped out of graduate school.
Dean Martin, singer, actor, comedian. Never finished high school.
Steve Martin, comedian, actor. Dropped out of Long Beach State College. He became disillusioned upon reading Wittgenstein's view that all philosophical problems can be reduced to problems of semantics.
Craig Martineau, co-founder of EcoScraps. Dropped out of Brigham Young University to pursue his composting business.
Manuel Marulanda, aka Pedro Antonio Marin, leader of the revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The son of a peasant farmer, he had only a sixth-grade education.
Andrew Mason, co-founder of Groupon. Was offered $1 million by his partner to quit college and begin working on the daily deal website.
Konosuke Matsushita, multimillionaire founder of Panasonic. At the age of 10, he was apprenticed to a hibachi store in Osaka, Japan.
Robert Maxwell, billionaire publisher. Dropped out of high school.
John Mayer, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. Left the Berklee College of Music after two semesters to pursue a singing career in Atlanta, Georgia. I've already won one of the biggest gambles of all time, which was to forgo an education so I could pursue a real all-or-none scenario.
Martina McBride, country music singer. After high school, she traveled around Kansas playing and singing with various bands. Did not attend college.
Melissa McCarthy, actress. Dropped out of Southern Illinois University at the age of 20 to move to New York City where she tried stand-up comedy for six months. Then did off-Broadway plays. Finally moved to Los Angeles to act.
Craig McCaw, billionaire founder of McCaw Cellular. Dropped out of college.
Billy Joe (Red) McCombs, billionaire founder of Clear Channel media empire, car dealerships, real estate investor. Dropped out of law school to sell cars in 1950. He owned his first automobile dealership by the age of 25.
Malachy McCourt, actor, author. Dropped out of school at the age of 13.
Mindy McCready, singer and songwriter. After high school, she headed to Nashville to become a singer. Never attended college.
Gardner McKay, actor, novelist. Dropped out of Cornell University after two years.
Rod McKuen, poet, songwriter. Elementary school dropout.
Kenneth Wayne McLeod, Ponzi schemer. After graduating from high school, he went into the insurance business. Never attended college.
Alexander McQueen, clothing designer. Was apprenticed at the age of 16 to Anderson & Sheppard tailors. Never attended college.
Steve McQueen, actor. Left reform school at the age of 16. Did many odd jobs before joining the Marines. Used the GI bill to study acting at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. Never attended college.
Leighton Meester, actress and model. Dropped out of high school after her junior year (but had enough credits to get her diploma). Moved to New York City at the age of 10 to start a career as a model. When she was 14, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress.
"I was very passionate about pursuing my acting career; as opposed to the daily routine of high school, which bored me to death. It was a chore - I wasn't in any after-school clubs. The only thing I did after school was go to auditions." (Seventeen magazine)
Hendrik Meijer, founder of Meijer grocery stores. Worked as a barber during the depression. Did not attend college.
Herman Melville, novelist, Moby Dick. High school dropout.
Karl Menninger, psychiatrist. Dropped out of Washburn College in Kansas after two years.
Daniel Merriweather, singer and songwriter. Dropped out of high school.
Ron Meyer, talent agent, co-founder of CAA, executive at Universal Studios. Did two years in the Marines after dropping out of University and Venice High Schools. Started as a messenger at an agency before becoming an agent himself.
Bret Michaels, rock singer, reality TV show star. Graduated high school with a GED degree. Has not attended college.
Jillian Michaels, fitness expert, reality TV star, book author. She dropped out of California State University at Northridge to be a bartender. When her boyfriend suggested she get a real job, she faked a college diploma to get a position at the ICM talent agency.
Alyson "Aly" Michalka, actress, singer, songwriter (part of duo Aly &AJ, now known as 78violet). Has not yet attended college.
Amanda Joy "AJ" Michalka, model, actress, singer, songwriter (part of duo Aly &AJ, now known as 78violet). Has not yet attended college.
Lea Michele, singer, actress. After high school, she worked on Broadway. A few years later, she landed in Los Angeles and soon landed a role on Glee TV show. Has not attended college.
James Middleton, founder of a cake kit company, brother of Kate Middleton of England. Dropped out of college.
Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer and reality TV show star. Has not attended college.
Ben Milne, founder of Dwolla, a web-based payment network. Dropped out of the University of Northern Iowa during his freshman year to design audio speakers and sell them online.
Nicki Minaj, aka Onika Tanya Maraj, singer and songwriter. After graduating from high school, she worked as a waitress and other odd jobs while trying to land a record deal. She finally got her break after being featured in an underground rap DVD.
Liza Minnelli, Oscar-winning actress, singer. High school dropout.
Hellen Mirren, Oscar-winning actress. Left home at the age of 17 to go to London to become a professional actress. Did not attend college.
Robert Mitchum, actor. High school dropout.
Moby, author, rock star, tea-shop proprietor. Sold more than 15 million albums. A college dropout.
Art Modell, NFL football team owner, Baltimore Ravens. A high school dropout.
Nirav Modi, billionaire jeweler. Dropped out of Wharton to work with his uncle in India.
Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker, book author. Never attended college. "I have a high school education."
Claude Monet, painter. Elementary school dropout.
Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane Baker, actress, greatest blonde of all time (according to at least one poll). Left high school to marry James Dougherty (primarily to avoid going back to an orphanage). Became one of the best comic actresses of all time. Never finished high school.
Cory Monteith, actor, singer. Dropped out of school at the age of 16. Never attended college. Died of a lethal combination of alcohol and heroin.
Gene Montesano, co-founder of Lucky Brands jeans and Civilianaire clothing. Started working at a retail clothing store at the age of 19. Never attended college.
Arthur Ernest Morgan, flood control engineer, book author, college president, director of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Left high school after three years. Later attended the University of Colorado for six weeks.
Heather Morris, dancer, singer, actress. Dropped out of Arizona State University after two semesters to pursue a dancing career in Los Angeles.
Ed Morrisey, blogger at Captain's Quarters and HotAir.com. I never finished college. I attended three or four different colleges at different times for different reasons. I never did get a degree.
Chris Morrison, co-founder of PLP Digital Systems (software company). Earns more than $500,000 per year. Dropped out of high school.
Matthew Morrison, actor and singer. Attended New York University for two years before landing a role in the Broadway production of Footloose.
Dustin Moskovitz, billionaire co-founder of Facebook social network. Dropped out of Harvard.
Kate Moss, multi-millionaire model. Attended a little bit of college, but never graduated.
Kathryn Bridget Moynahan, model, actress. Attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, but dropped out during her freshman year to pursue her modeling career. Since she had to borrow money from her parents to hit the big city, she agreed that if her career did not take off after a year, she'd go back to school.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, classical music composer and performer. In his early years, his father taught him music, languages, and other academic subjects. From the age of 6, he performed along with his older sister in cities all over Europe. He never attended high school or college.
Charlotte Kemp Muhl, singer, songwriter, model, member of the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger group. Moved to New York City alone at the age of 14 to become a model. Has not yet attended college.
Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. Dropped out of the University of Houston to take a job at CNET Networks. Later co-founded WordPress.
Charles Munger, billionaire right-hand man to Warren Buffett in Berkshire Hathaway. Dropped out of the University of Michigan to join the Air Force as a meteorologist. Later got a law degree from Harvard.
David Murdock, billionaire investor, real estate tycoon, chairman of Dole Foods. Funding a $1.5 billion health research campus in North Carolina. Dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. Worked at a gas station until he was drafted into the army in 1943.
Justin Murdock, investor, son of David. A college dropout and goth musician.
Ted Murphy, founder, Izea Entertainment, social media marketing company. Dropped out of Florida State University to start Think Creative ad agency.
Bill Murray, Golden Globe-winning actor, comedian. Dropped out of Regis University after being arrested for possession of marijuana.
Stan Musial, Hall of Fame baseball player. Turned down a college scholarship to pitch for a minor league baseball team.
Elon Musk, founder of Paypal, founder of SpaceX, founder of Tesla Motors, founder of SolarCity, software engineer, entrepreneur. Graduated from Penn with a double major. Enrolled in a PhD program at Stanford University but dropped out after two days. As he has noted, "I find universities a very slow place to learn things."
Copyright 2013 by book promotion expert John Kremer
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