“Never let schooling interfere with the tech startup you’re running out of your bedroom.” – Marie Curie

Okay, fair enough, she never said that, but she may or may not have been thinking it. Its true though, when it comes to learning, and becoming your best self, formal education is not always the best way to get from A to B. So much of success comes down to having self-belief, resilience, and the ability to lead. Most important of all is the ability to learn from every experience, and sometimes going through tough times teaches you more about yourself and the world than any college degree.

Today, on leaving cert results day, we would like to remind you of some people who found another way, and did okay for themselves

1) Bill Gates


Bill Gates applied to just three colleges after graduating from high school: Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. He was accepted to all three but chose Harvard and started in 1973. After a couple of good years, Bill became distracted from his studies after creating a programming language. He set up a little company called ‘Microsoft’ in 1975 with his classmate. Being CEO of a rapidly growing company eventually became too much of a burden, and Bill had to drop out of college once and for all.

Today our Billyboy is worth an estimated $77.6 billion. He was granted an honorary Doctorate from Harvard in 2007, so we reckon that kept his Mammy happy and off his back.

2) Steve Jobs


Unlike Bill Gates, who dropped out of college so he could run a company, Steve Jobs dropped out of college so he could … well … go to college. Bear with us here….

Steve found his normal scheduled classes too boring, so he dropped them six months into 1st year and took up sujects he was actually interested in; Shakespeare, dance and calligraphy. In 2005, he said that this calligraphy class helped him to develop multiple typefaces for Macintosh. In that same speech, Steve talked about his other reason for dropping out. He felt guilty that his parents were spending so much on his education, and felt it wasn’t worth it. He said “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK.”

We’re pretty sure it worked out okay, as he founded one of the biggest brands in the world.

3) Oprah Winfrey


At a commencement speech in Harvard in 2008, Oprah remembered starting work in TV at the age of 19, just after starting in Tennessee State University. “I was the only television anchor person that had an 11 o’clock curfew doing the 10 o’clock news,” she commented, before continuing, “Seriously, my dad was like, ‘Well, that news is over at 10:30. Be home by 11.’” Her talent was recognised early, and she ended up dropping out of college with only one credit left to complete. At aged 22, she became a news anchor in Baltimore.

While she landed on her feet, with a net worth of around $3.1 billion, her beloved Dad never quite got over her not finishing college saying “Oprah Gail’ — that’s my middle name — ‘I don’t know what you’re gonna do without that degree.’ And I’d say, ‘But, Dad, I have my own television show.’ And he’d say, ‘Well, I still don’t know what you’re going to do without that degree.’ And I’d say, ‘But, Dad, now I’m a talk show host.’ He’d say, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to get another job without that degree.’”

Just to keep her Da happy, Oprah went back and finished her degree in 1987, ensuring that she’d have something to fall back on..

4) Mark Zuckerberg


Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg took a little longer to drop out of college than the others on this list. He was determined to complete his degree and keep Facebook as a hobby. Within a year and a half of its launch, Facebook became one of the most visited sites on the internet, and Mark had to give in and work on his “hobby” full time.

He’d return to Harvard a year later … to recruit engineers.

5) Jay Z


Jay-Z is famous for rapping, but he’s also a shrewd businessman and entrepreneur. Early on in his career, Jay founded his own record label (Roc-A-Fella), talent agency (Roc Nation), and clothing line (Rocawear). Now owning his own music streaming service (Tidal), Shawn Carter shows that theres more than one way to skin a cat.

Jay-Z never finished high school. The Brooklyn native dropped out to focus dealing drugs. He said that he learned a lot about business during this time (don’t try it at home kids), but also knew that he was likely to get locked up or killed at any time. He needed to get out.

Fortunately for Jay Z, he had an exit strategy: Music. As of 2015, his estimated net worth is $550 million.

6) Lady Gaga


Yeah, she is also another musician, but Lady Gaga is a massive business by herself. In fact there’s a Harvard Business School Case on her alone. Gaga attended New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts after graduating from high school. During her sophomore year, she decided to drop out to focus more on her fledgling music career — a decision that would end up paying off in a big way.

She has earned millions through her music, but she also carefully orchestrated a number of brand partnerships and sponsorship deals including Versace, Virgin Mobile and Starbucks, and is now worth in the region of $225million.

Still and all, no harm in Granny sticking out the child of prague every now and again, just to be on the safe side….

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