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.
Dan Panoz, founder of Panoz Auto Development car design firm. Dropped out of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Gainesville College.
Larry Page, billionaire co-founder of Google. Dropped out of the Stanford Ph.D. program in computer science to start Google in 1998 working out of a friend's garage. Unlike Brin, he never returned to finish the Ph.D. program.
Patti Page, aka Clara Ann Fowler, singer. As a teen, she took a job in the art department of KTUL radio. Never attended college.
Charlie "Bird" Parker, jazz musician and father of modern jazz. Attended Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Missouri but left after a year and a half to join the local musicians union.
Sean Parker, billionaire co-creator of Napster, founding president of Facebook.com. He barely finished high school (he was not interested in school). Never made it to college. "I kind of refer to it as Napster University. It was a crash course in intellectual property law, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, and law school."
Formal education becomes less and less important. We should expect to see the emergence of a new kind of entrepreneur who has acquired most of their knowledge through self-exploration (quoted in The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg).
Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer. Dropped out of high school.
Adam Passey, vice president of information and technology for a marketing agency. Then hired by IGN Entertainment. Never graduated from college.
Danica Patrick, race car driver. Instead of going to high school, she went to London when she was 16 to train as a driver (and where she got her GED). She has not yet attended college.
Kevin Paul, founder of KPaul, an Inc. 500 company. Joined the army straight out of high school. Never attended college.
Jeno Paulucci, multi-millionaire founder of Chun King and Jeno's. Left school at the age of 16 to sell fruits and vegetables. Twenty years later he borrowed $2,500 to begin canning his own version of chow mein. He sold Chun King 11 years later for $63 million. Several years later, he founded Jeno's where he created pizza rolls. He sold that company 17 years later for $140 million.
Harvey Pekar, comic book author. Dropped out of Case Western Reserve University. His reason? He quit "when the pressure of required math classes proved too much to bear."
Nelson Peltz, billionaire leveraged buyout investor. Dropped out of Wharton Business School.
Robin Wright Penn, actress. Never attended college. She was already modeling in high school and had a steady acting job at the age of 19 in the soap opera Santa Barbara.
Pinetop Perkins, blues pianist. Left school after the third grade.
Andrew Perlman, co-founder of GreatPoint. Dropped out of Washington University to start an Internet communications company, Cignal Global Communications, when he was 19.
Barry Perlman, co-founder of Lucky Brands jeans and Civilianaire clothing. Opened his first retail clothing store at the age of 17. Never attended college.
Katy Perry, singer. Left home at the age of 14 to make it on her own in Nashville; then moved to Los Angeles at the age of 17. Did not attend college. Worked various crappy jobs and sank into debt until she signed a deal with Capitol Records and released her bestselling album, One of the Boys.
John Pestana, multimillionaire co-founder of Omniture. Dropped out of Brigham Young University during his final semester to co-found MyComputer.com, which became Omniture.
Todd Phillips, screenwriter, director, and producer, Green Hat Films. Dropped out of film school at New York University to promote his first documentary, Hatred.
George Phippen, artist, cofounder of Cowboy Artists of America. "Quituated" school before the eighth grade.
Joaquin Phoenix, actor, director, producer, singer. Did not attend college.
River Phoenix, actor, singer, songwriter. Did not attend college.
Phosphorescent, country singer. Left home at 18 to tour the Southwest. Lived out of his pickup for six months.
Pablo Picasso, modern artist, painter, sculptor, co-founder of Cubism, co-inventor of collage. At the age of 16, he attended the Royal Academy of San Fernando (Spain's foremost art school), but he disliked the formal instruction and soon quit attending classes altogether.
Mary Pickford, Oscar-winning actress, co-founder of United Artists. Six months of formal education. Home schooled.
James A. Pike, Episcopal bishop. Dropped out of the University of Santa Clara after his sophomore year.
François Pinault, third-richest man in France, owner of Gucci, Samsonite, Puma, and Christie's auctions. Quit high school to work at his father's lumber mill.
Brad Pitt, actor. Left the University of Missouri two credits short of graduating so he could begin his acting career in California.
Sidney Poitier, Oscar-winning actor. Only finished a few grades. Could only read at the fourth-grade level until a friend taught him how to read better when he was a struggling actor in New York City.
Sydney Pollack, movie director, producer, and actor. Skipped college and enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where he studied under drama coach Sanford Meisner.
Eugene Polley, inventor of the wireless remote control. Attended the City Colleges of Chicago and the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology), but did not have enough money to graduate from college. Joined Zenith as a parts clerk at the age of 20 and rose from the stockroom to the engineering department based on his mechanical aptitude. Eventually earned 18 U.S. patents for his inventions.
Ron Popeil, multimillionaire founder of Ronco, inventor, infomercial pitchman, and producer. Dropped out of college. He did, though, receive the Ig Nobel Award for Consumer Engineering. Inventor of the Solid Flavor Injector, Mr. Microphone, Showtime Rotisserie, and more.
Dean Potter, climber and slack-liner. Enrolled at the University of New Hampshire and joined the rowing team, but quit soon thereafter. "I didn't fit in," he has said. "I wanted to destroy everybody on my team and establish my dominance, and that's all I cared about."
Monica Potter, actress. In a recent interview, she suggested she might start college: My oldest son is in college now and I thought, “Wouldn't it be fun to go to school with him?”
Joe Poulin, founder of Luxury Retreats, started developing websites when he was a teen. Flew to Barbados to build a website for a local villa-rental group. That, in turn, led to his starting Luxury Retreats. Has not attended college.
William Powell, author of The Anarchist Cookbook. Dropped out of high school. Later applied to attend Windham College, but did not spend much time there. Eventually he did earn a master's degree in English and taught school for many years.
William J. Powell, developer and owner of the Clearview Golf Club, the first U.S. golf course designed, owned, and operated by an African American; also competed in the first U.S. interracial collegiate golf match. Left Wilberforce University early because he had an enlarged heart.
Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro. Dropped out of Stanford University to rush home to India to take care of his family after his father died. Built Wipro into a multibillion company. Many years later he completed his Stanford degree via correspondence course. "If my father had not died, I probably would have stayed in the U.S. and completed my master's degree."
Lisa Marie Presley, singer. Dropped out of high school.
Seth Priebatsch, chief ninja of scvngr.com and founder of PostcardTech. Dropped out of Princeton University after one year.
Jeff Probst, host, Survivor TV show. Dropped out of college after three and a half years to pursue a career as a singer in a rock 'n roll band.
Bob Proctor, success speaker, bestselling author of You Were Born Rich, teacher of The Secret, and co-founder of Life Success Publishing. Went to high school for two months.
Wolfgang Puck, chef, owner of 16 restaurants and 80 express bistros. Quit school at the age of 14 and got a job as a cooking apprentice at a hotel. When he told his father, he said, "Well, you're good for nothing. Cooking is for women."
Ian Purkayastha, prince of truffles, North American sales director for PAQ. Dropped out of Baruch College during orientation week. Has not yet gone back to college.
David Putnam, Oscar-winning producer. Dropped out of high school.
Ernie Pyle, journalist. Left high school early to become a cub reporter.
Leaving college may leave a student with a sense of unfinished business that will, in some cases, provide motivation for learning for the rest of his life. — Nevitt Sanford, psychologist
Copyright 2013 by book promotion expert John Kremer
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