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.
Haim Saban, billionaire producer of Power Rangers TV show, owns stake in Univision and Paul Frank Industries. Never attended college.
William Safire, columnist for the New York Times. Dropped out of Syracuse University to take a job as a researcher for a column.
Edmond Safra, billionaire banker, philanthropist. High school dropout.
J.D. Salinger, novelist, Catcher in the Rye (with over 60 million copies sold so far). Briefly attended Ursinus College and New York University before publishing short stories in Collier's and Esquire.
Carl Sandburg, poet, historian, Pulitzer Prize winner. Had little formal education but later attended Lombard College and graduated.
Colonel Harlan Sanders, multimillionaire founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Elementary school dropout but later earned a law degree via correspondence course.
Sankaralingam, social and political reformer, founder Land for Tiller's Freedom. A member of the high caste in India, he quit college to join Gandhi's movement for India's freedom.
Silvio Santos, billionaire TV host, the first-ever Brazilian celebrity billionaire. Started out as a street vendor in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently did not attend college.
Jose Saramago, Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Graduated from trade
school and then studied literature mostly on his own.
Brandon Sargent, co-founder of EcoScraps. Dropped out of Brigham Young University to pursue his composting business.
David Sarnoff, radio and TV producer. High school dropout.
William Saroyan, Oscar-winning screenwriter, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. High school dropout.
Vidal Sassoon, multimillionaire founder of Vidal Sassoon hairstyling salons and hair-care products. High school dropout.
Al Schneider, founder of Schneider National freight company. Had an eighth-grade education.
Maria Schneider, actress. Left home at the age of 15 to pursue a career as a model. At the age of 19, she was cast in the movie, Last Tango in Paris.
Richard Schulze, billionaire founder of Best Buy. After high school, he sold electronics for his father's distribution company and later opened a car-stereo shop. Did not attend college.
Ryan Seacrest, multimillionaire radio and TV host. He turned a high school internship at a local radio station into his own show. At 19, he dropped out of the University of Georgia and headed to Hollywood to build a career in radio and TV.
Seal, aka Seal henry Olusugun Olumide Adeola Samuel, R&B singer and songwriter. He received a two-year associate's degree in architecture. He struck out on his own at the age of 15.
Ke$ha Rose Sebert, singer and songwriter. Quit high school weeks before graduating and passed on a scholarship to Barnard College to go to Los Angeles to break into the music business.
Kyra Sedgwick, actress. Briefly attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Southern California before dropping out to act full time.
Tom Selleck, actor. Left USC three classes short of a degree to become a contract player for 20th Century Fox. “I started out at about $35 a week, so it was a pretty big risk to leave college to do that. But it's like my dad always said: Risk is the price you pay for opportunity.”
Doug Selsam, inventor of The Sky Serpent wind generator and heavy metal guitarist. Attended the University of California at Irvine, but never graduated.
Drew Sementa, founder, Premier Payment Systems. Left the University of Central Florida after his junior year to join a dot-com.
Maurice Sendak, bestselling children's book author and illustrator. Never attended college. Had a number of odd jobs before landing a job as a window dresser at the FAO Schwartz toy store in New York City. His first book illustrations were published when he was 19 years old.
Amanda Seyfried, actress. Walked out of Fordham University on her first day of classes in 2004. As she notes, "You can learn more on your own."
William Shakespeare, playwright, poet. Only a few years of formal schooling.
Shakira, aka Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who has sold more than 50 million albums. Attended a modeling school for awhile. Never attended college, but founded Pies Descalzos to provide educational opportunities to thousands of Colombia's poorest children and Barefoot, a nonprofit organization to provide schooling opportunities for millions of children around the world.
Adam Shankman, dancer, choreographer, director, producer, reality show judge. Dropped out of Julliard to return to Los Angeles to pursue a choreography career.
George Bernard Shaw, playwright, author. High school dropout.
Charlie Sheen, actor. Never finished high school.
Martin Sheen (Ramon Gerard Estevez), actor. Never attended college until he went for a few months in 2006.
Robert Sherman, Oscar-winning songwriter. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the Army. After World War II, he returned to write a novel but was soon encouraged to partner with his brother Richard in writing songs.
J. Earl Shoaff, the Millionaire Maker, never graduated from high school.
Walter Shorenstein, billionaire real estate investor, Shorenstein Properties. Dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania. Began buying commercial property after serving in the military during World War II.
Alan Sillitoe, novelist. He left school at the age of 14 to work in a bicycle plant.
Russell Simmons, multi-millionaire co-founder of Def Jam records, founder Russell Simmons Music Group, creator of Phat Farm and Baby Phat fashions, founding partner of UniRush Financial Services, creator of Global Grind website, bestselling author, movie and TV producer. Left City College of New York at the age of 20 to begin promoting local rap music acts (which he eventually signed to his music label) and producing records.
Harper Simon, musician son of singer/songwriter Paul Simon. Enrolled at the Berklee College of Music but quit before graduating.
Maggy Simony, author of Traveler's Reading Guide. Never attended college.
John Simplot, billionaire potato king. Dropped out of 8th grade and left home at the age of 14. He sorted potatoes and raised hogs before saving enough money to buy his first potato field. Became a millionaire by the age of 30.
Ashley Simpson, actress and singer. When she turned 18, she move out of her parent's house. Has not yet attended college.
Jessica Simpson, singer and actress. Left high school at the age of 16 to pursue a singing career. Later got her GED. Never attended college.
Frank Sinatra, singer, Oscar-winning actor. Never finished high school.
Isaac Merrit Singer, sewing machine inventor, multimillionaire founder of Singer Industries. Dropped out of elementary school.
Derek Silvers, founder of CD Baby and MuckWork, professional musician, entrepreneur. Attended Berklee College of Music for three years, but it is not clear if he graduated or not (he's very sparse with his online biographies).
The unquestioned college path deserves to be challenged. - Derek Silvers
Alexander Skarsgård, actor, director. After high school, he did national service in an anti-terrorism unit. He then attended Leeds Metropolitan University in England for six months, but didn't study much. Instead, he “had a blast.” He later took a theater course at Marymount Manhattan College before continuing to pursue his acting career.
Christian Slater, actor. Dropped out of high school and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.
Alfred E. Smith, governor of New York and presidential candidate. Left school at the age of 14 to help his family after his father died. He would later joke that he received his FFM degree from the Fulton Fish Market in New York City.
Dylan Smith, multi-millionaire co-founder of Box.net. Dropped out of Duke University and headed to Silicon Valley to build the business.
Elinor Smith, aviatrix, the Flying Flapper. By the time she was 17, she was ferrying passengers on short hops from Roosevelt Field in Long Island. By 18, she had her own sight-seeing business. Never attended college.
O. Bruton Smith, billionaire. “I didn't attend college, but still had a good time. I think I probably had more fun than any human deserves a right to have.”
Patti Smith, poet, visual artist, songwriter. Dropped out of teacher's college to start life as an artist in New York City.
Ryan Smith, chief marketing officer, Qualtrics. He was two credits shy of an undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University when he quit to work for his family's business.
Walter L. Smith, president of Florida A&M University. Dropped out of high school but later earned an equivalency diploma at the age of 23.
Will Smith, Grammy-winning rapper, actor. Did not attend college. As the Fresh Prince, he and DJ Jazzy Jeff released their first album before he finished high school. They received the first Grammy for a hip-hop act. Due to the success of that first album, Smith decided to forgo college for show business.
The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school. Traditional education is based on facts and figures and passing tests—not on a comprehension of the material, and its application to your life. ... I know how to learn anything I want to learn. ... Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand up in front of the class. — Will Smith
Edwin "Duke" Snider, Hall of Fame baseball player. Went into the military after high school and then signed a minor league baseball contract. Never attended college.
Phoebe Snow, singer, songwriter. Dropped out of college to perform in clubs and coffeehouses. Frank Sinatra said of her: "She is the best singer in the history of the world."
Edward Snowden, NSA leaker. Never finished high school but earned a GED. Then dropped out of Army training after breaking his legs. Attended community college but dropped out rather quickly.
Daniel Snyder, billionaire owner of Snyder Communications and Red Zone Capital, owner of the Washington Redskins. Dropped out of the University of Maryland.
Josh Sommer, founder, Chordoma Foundation. Dropped out of Duke University to cofound the Chordoma Foundation to fund research on this rare bone cancer.
Kevin Sorbo, actor, director, producer, and model. Left Moorhead State University early to pursue a career in acting.
Shannyn Sossamon, actress, dancer. Left her hometown of Reno, Nevada, the day after graduating high school. Headed to Los Angeles to pursue dance.
Angelo Sotira, multimillionaire founder of DMusic and deviantART. Founded DMusic while still in high school. Never attended college.
James Spader, actor. Dropped out of high school. As he noted, "I left high school with the option of returning whenever I wanted. The high school was tremendously gracious in that way. They said, Any time you want to come back, we'll welcome you. Maybe I should take them up on it. I'd probably make great use of it."
Britney Spears, singer, actress, youngest woman to have five albums debut at #1 on the Billboard list. Dropped out of high school.
Jamie Lynn Spears, actress. Dropped out of high school.
Abigail Spencer, actress. Was discovered by a casting director while sitting in the audience of the Regis & Kathie Lee TV show (where they talked to her for a few seconds). She auditioned and was cast for a role in All My Children. Then, instead of going to Carnegie Mellon as she had planned, she moved to New York City to act. She has not attended college.
Steven Spielberg, billionaire movie director and producer, co-founder of DreamWorks. Rejected by the best film schools, he enrolled in and then dropped out of Cal State Long Beach. Received a degree in 2002.
Lysander Spooner, abolitionist, attorney, and author. Did not attend college. In 1835, he challenged the law that kept those without college degrees from setting up as an attorney without five years of apprenticeship.
Rick Springfield, singer and actor. Never attended college.
Bruce Springsteen, Grammy-winning and Oscar-winning singer and songwriter. Never attended college.
Ringo Starr, drummer for the Beatles. He did not attend college.
Jason Statham, actor, model, diver. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school to work confidence games. Later dived for the British National Team. Became a model and then an actor.
Gwen Stefani, singer and songwriter, No Doubt. Struggled in school. Never attended college. "School was just really hard for me. I didn't want to fail. I wanted to be smart! But I was really dreaming. ... It makes me sad when I think about it. I still have nightmares about tests."
Jake Steinfeld, bodybuilder, founder of Body by Jake, co-founder of FitTV and Major League Lacrosse. Dropped out of the State University of New York and moved to California to follow his passion as a bodybuilder.
Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odyssey, a shipwreck recovery company. Studied marine biology for two years at New College of Florida before dropping out to work with Bob Hope as his PR man.
Dale Stephens, founder of Uncollege.org. Dropped out of Hendrix College for at least two years to launch Uncollege.org. Funded $100,000 by Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, via his college dropout project.
Hiram Stevens, engineer, inventor. Dropped out of high school.
Kristen Stewart, actress. Dropped out of school in the seventh grade to study independently at home. “That was a necessity. When I would go away to work, my teachers would only give me a portion of my schoolwork, and I would come home and they'd fail me. I was very happy to leave.”
I want to go to college for literature. I want to be a writer. I mean. I love what I do, but it's not all I want to do—be a professional liar for the rest of my life.
Patrick Stewart, actor, producer, director, writer. Dropped out of high school.
Ben Stiller, actor, director, and producer. Went to the UCLA film school for nine months and then headed for Broadway. As he noted, "I was the guy who dropped out and moved back in with his parents."
Dean Stockwell, actor and artist. Was a child movie star. Dropped out of acting at one point to work as a laborer. Never attended college.
Eric Stoltz, actor and producer. Dropped out of the University of Southern California in his junior year and joined a repertory acting company in Edinburgh, Scotland. Moved to New York City in 1981, studied with Stella Adler and Peggy Feury, and soon got his first film role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Allen Stone, singer. Ditched Bible college to work as a musician.
Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Obvious. A college dropout.
Emma Stone, actress. At the age of 15, she gave her parents a PowerPoint presentation about ditching high school to pursue a career as an actress. Her mother accompanied her to Hollywood so she could become an actress. She was home-schooled while auditioning for jobs. Has not yet attended college, but expressed interest in taking some classes after visiting the Salk Institute while filming Spider-Man.
Edward D. Stone, architect. Dropped out of the University of Arkansas.
Sharon Stone, Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-winning actress,
producer, and model. Dropped out of Edinboro State University.
W. Clement Stone, multimillionaire insurance businessman, founder of Success magazine, and author of a number of books on positive mental attitudes. At the age of six, he sold newspapers on the south side of Chicago. By the age of 13, he owned his own newsstand. He continued to work odd jobs until his mother bought a small insurance agency, where he helped her by selling insurance. At the age of 21, with $100 in his pocket, he established the Combined Registry Company insurance business which he built into a multi-million dollar business. He dropped out of elementary school but later attended high school night courses and some college.
Tom Stoppart, Tony-winning playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter. Didn't like school. Never attended college.
Madeleine Stowe, actress and screenwriter. Spent one year studying film and journalism at the University of Southern California. Never graduated from college.
Barbra Streisand, singer and actress. Started her singing career at the age of 18. Did not attend college.
Hilary Swank, actress, swimmer, gymnast. Dropped out of South Pasadena High School to act professionally. When she was 15, she and her mother headed to Los Angeles with $75 in their pockets. They lived out of their Oldsmobile Delta '88 until she found work in TV.
“I did leave high school my sophomore year, but I got my GED. I wouldn't ever recommend not going to school. I think it's case by case. But what's really important is not just to have a diploma but also to experience life. I'm certainly not very book smart, but I started traveling at 16, and it has enriched me in ways I could never begin to explain.” (Time magazine)
“My education has been traveling the world, meeting different people and seeing all different walks of life.” (Ladies' Home Journal)
Taylor Swift, singer and songwriter. Released her first album at the age of 16; left high school at the same age. Has not yet attended college.
Mark Sykes, art dealer, gambler, bookie, gentleman, and rogue. Attended Oxford University for 18 months (primarily running highly profitable card games); then dropped out to gamble professionally.
Louis Szekely, aka Louis C.K., comedian. Did not attend college. Instead, he worked at KFC, ran demolition for carpenters, fixed cars, and worked in a video store.
Jessica Szohr, model, actress. Graduated from high school a semester early and moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles to work as a model, but she soon was cast in a number of TV shows. Has not 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
Copyright 2013 by book promotion expert John Kremer
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