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.
Andy Wachowski, screenwriter, director, The Matrix. Dropped out of Emerson College.
Lana Wachowski (born Laurence) transsexual screenwriter, director, The Matrix. Dropped out of Bard College.
Donnie Wahlberg Jr., singer (New Kids on the Block), actor, music producer. Never attended college. Started his singing career at the age of 15.
Mark Wahlberg, rapper (as Marky Mark), model, actor, producer, entrepreneur. Dropped out of school at the age of 13 and for good at the age of 16. Was in prison at the age of 16 for assault. Is currently working on his GED: "I will have that GED before my kids are old enough to know that Dad never did it."
Theodore Waitt, billionaire founder of Gateway Computers. Dropped out of the University of Iowa one semester short of a degree to start Gateway with his older brother in 1985.
Jimmy Wales, cofounder of Wikipedia. Attended grade school at a two-room school run by his mother and grandmother. Dropped out of a PhD program in economics at the University of Indiana to become a trader at Chicago Options Associates.
Alfred Russel Wallace, naturalist, co-discover of evolutionary theory. Left school at the age of 14 to go to work to support his family. Wallace was self-taught, via frequent visits to libraries and workingman's institutes, while working as a land surveyor, a builder, and a school teacher.
DeWitt Wallace, founder and publisher of Reader's Digest, philanthropist. Dropped out of Macalester College after one year. Dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley after the second year.
David Walsh, multimillionaire gambler, founder of the Museum of Old and New Art. Dropped out of college to make his fortune as a professional gambler (when he pooled his talent for mathematics with some friends to make money as a gambler).
Kate Walsh, actress. Dropped out of the University of Arizona at the age of 19 to pursue a career in acting.
Alexander Wang, fashion designer. Dropped out of Parsons The New School for Design after two years. As he noted, "I'm naive to the traditional design formula."
Y.C. Wang, billionaire founder of Formosa Plastics. Never attended high school.
Ty Warner, billionaire developer of Beanie Babies, hotel owner, real estate investor. Dropped out of college to go on the road selling plush toys.
K'naan Warsame, aka K'naan the Skinny, Somali refugee, rapper, and rock star. Dropped out of high school after the 10th grade. Was featured in a $300 million worldwide advertising campaign by Coca-Cola.
Dennis Washington, billionaire road contractor. The day after his high school graduation, he headed to Alaska to work in construction for two years. By the age of 22, he was working on his first interstate highway job.
George Washington, U.S. president, general, plantation owner. Ended his education after a few years of elementary school. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
Keith Waterhouse, journalist, comic novelist, Billy Liar. Was inspired to drop out of school and become a writer after reading Mark Twain and P.G. Wodehouse.
Naomi Watts, actress. Quit high school at the age of 17. "I told my mum I'm done with my education."
John Wayne, actor, attended the University of Southern California for two years on a football scholarship. He dropped out to work as a propman and stuntman for movie studios.
Lil Wayne (Dwayne Carter), rapper. Never attended college.
Michael Weatherly, actor, Dark Angel and NCIS. Dropped out of American University at the age of 21 to pursue acting full time.
Charlie Weaver, see Cliff Arquette.
Sidney Weinberg, managing partner of Goldman Sachs, aka Mr. Wall Street. Dropped out of the seventh grade in Brooklyn.
Jerry Weintraub, movie and music producer. Joined the Air Force instead of going to college. Later studied acting at Manhattan's Neighborhood Playhouse.
H.G. Wells, science fiction author. Dropped out of high school to help support his family. Eventually completed high school and went on to college.
Daria Werbowy, model. Has not yet attended college. Became the new face of Prada at the age of 19.
Paul Wesley, aka Paul Wasilewski, actor. “I was going to high school in Guiding Light but getting kicked out of school in real life.” Attended Rutgers University for one semester before dropping out to act full time.
Kanye West, rapper, record producer, fashion designer. Attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago for one semester and then transferred to Chicago State University, but dropped out to focus on his music career. Had a hit album called The College Dropout.
Leslie Wexner, billionaire founder of Limited Brands. Dropped out of Ohio State law school. Started the Limited with a $5,000 loan from an aunt.
Dean White, billionaire hotelier and billboard magnate. Dropped out of the University of Nebraska to join the Merchant Marine Academy. Served during World War II. Then took over family business after the war and built it into a billboard and real estate empire.
Shawn White, multi-millionaire Olympic snowboarder and X-Games skateboarder. Did not attend college. Turned pro in skateboarding at the age of 16.
Walt Whitman, poet, self-publisher. Elementary school dropout.
Kristen Wiig, comedienne, actress. Took an acting class her freshman year at the University of Arizona, got the acting bug, dropped out after one year and headed to Los Angeles to make it as an actress. But according to an interview in Marie Claire, Kristen went to college in Virginia and dropped out after a year, headed to Mexico for three months of vagabonding, and then worked in Arizona before heading to Los Angeles.
Dan Wilks, billionaire founder of Wilks Masonry and Frak Tech. Did not attend college.
Farris Wilks, billionaire founder of Wilks Masonry and Frak Tech. Did not attend college.
Olivia Wilde, actress. Instead of going to Bard College after graduating from Andover Prep, she left for Hollywood to become an actress. Has not yet attended college.
Will.i.am, see William Adams.
Michelle Williams, actress. Was legally emancipated at the age of 15 from her family. Never went to college.
Vanessa Williams, actress, singer, model, Miss America. She received a scholarship and attended Syracuse University as a Musical Theatre Arts major. She left during her sophomore year to fulfill her duties as Miss America, and subsequently left the university to focus on her entertainment career. Twenty-five years later, she graduated from Syracuse by earning her remaining college credits through her life experience.
Bruce Willis, actor. Dropped out of the theater program of Montclair State University after his junior year. He asserts that a college diploma "is just a trophy. I have some bowling trophies I think would be worth about the same thing."
Gretchen Wilson, country singer. Quit school after the eighth grade. Finally earned her GED equivalency degree in 2009. "I've wanted to go back and get my GED for years, ever since I quit school after the eighth grade. I had a troubled childhood and I just wanted to get out of the house and on with life as quickly as possible. And back then I thought it wasn't important to have a high school diploma to chase my music dreams. But I always knew that finishing high school would make me feel a little more complete." (Redbook magazine)
Kemmons Wilson, multimillionaire founder of Holiday Inns. Dropped out of high school.
Owen Wilson, actor, screenwriter. Dropped out of the University of Texas.
Woodrow Wilson, U.S. president, college president. Dropped out of Davidson College, but eventually graduated from Princeton University.
Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief, Vogue magazine. Did not attend college.
Reese Witherspoon, Oscar-winning actress and model. Starred in her first film at the age of 14. Enrolled in Stanford University but dropped out to pursue acting full time.
Lee Ann Womack, country music singer. Attended South Plains Junior College for one year. Then took a few classes at Belmont University. Never graduated.
I interned at MCA Records and learned more from that internship than I ever did in the classroom (Woman's Day magazine).
Tyrone Wood, director of Scream Gallery, son of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. Education: "The school of life."
Shailene Woodley, actress. Has not yet attended college, but "I definitely want to go to college, but right now I'm taking my life lessons backpacking and gardening and learning how to make tables."
Tiger Woods, golfer. Turned pro at the age of 20 after attending Stanford University for a year or two.
Steve Wozniak, billionaire co-founder of Apple. Dropped out of college.
Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, interior designer, leader of the Prairie School of architecture. Voted as the greatest American architect of all time by the American Institute of Architects. Attended a high school in Madison, Wisconsin, but apparently never graduated. He was admitted to the University of Wisconsin as a special student and took classes part-time for two semesters. He left school at the age of 20 to work at an architectural firm in Chicago, Illinois.
Orville Wright, inventor of the airplane. Dropped out of high school in his junior year to open a printing business.
Wilbur Wright, inventor of the airplane. Completed four years of high school but never received his diploma. Did not attend college.
William Wrigley Jr., founder, Wrigley's chewing gum. Also owner of the Chicago Clubs, Wrigley Field, Arizona Biltmore Hotel, and Catalina Island. Expelled from grammar school. Never attended high school or college.
Jason Wu, fashion designer. After high school, he studied at Parsons New School for Design but left before graduating to intern with a designer.
Noah Wyle, actor. Never attended college. After private high school, he went straight to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor.
Ed Wynn, comedian and actor. Left home at the age of 16 to join a theater company.
Copyright 2013 by book promotion expert John Kremer
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