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Modern American society has created a conventional fixed path that predisposes us all to believe that one’s life has to be carried out a certain way in order to be successful. Attend elementary school, graduate high-school, then go on to college. High school students across the country are busting their asses to prepare for SATs in hopes of getting into the college of their dreams. Some even try to get into a particular university that will be deemed acceptable in the eyes of those looking on, like their parents or peers. This is a part of American culture that is expected and has become normal.

Also, the expense of college continues to rise year after year. It is absolutely crazy how much money is channeled toward paying for an education.The expense of college got real for me the moment after I purchased my first $250 textbook.  That’s not even the most expensive priced one out there, which is absolutely terrifying. Worse than that, parents [or even the students themselves] are sent in frenzies when trying to figure out ways to make paying rising tuition possible. Despite the initial shock after seeing the first tuition bill, most people move on fairly quickly deeming it just another financial hurdle, thus another “part of life” that will be worth it when all is said and done (…fifteen years later after finally paying back thousands of dollars in loans).

Being able to receive a higher education is an incredible opportunity. As Americans, we are very lucky to have so many institutions as options for a chance to become educated in a specialized field. However, there are alternative paths to success that don’t cost the price of a small island. Unfortunately, because of the college culture that our society has grown accustomed to, many people become reflexively judgmental when someone states that they’re a “college dropout”, or that they have chosen to not attend college at all. This is something that needs to end. College isn’t for everyone. It’s okay to go on an unbeaten path and follow a dream that doesn’t involve all-night cramming sessions and rushing to become a lot of random people’s brother/sister.

Zuckerberg, Gates, and Jobs weren’t the only ones to find inconceivable success without a degree. These are some individuals who dropped out of high school, didn’t graduate from college, or didn’t even finish elementary school, yet they have all proven to achieve great things and have made more money than many college graduates ever will.

1. Sophia Amoruso

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At 22, Amoruso dropped out of community college and started an eBay business selling vintage clothing to help pay bills. That was the beginning of her now popular online retail company, Nasty Gal. Today, Amoruso is the CEO of the $100 million dollar revenue business and is considered the “Cinderella of Tech.” She has written a book on her success and management style intertwined withing encouraging young millennials to go after what they want.

2. David Karp

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Tumblr. This is a site that our generation knows all too well, so it’s no surprise that its CEO is only 28 years old. David Karp launched the microblogging website in 2007, and it now hosts just about 206 million blogs. Tumblr was sold to Yahoo! for 1.1 billion, but Karp still remains as CEO for the site. He did all this without a high school diploma.

3. Pete Davidson

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Okay so you don’t have to be the CEO of a company to make a name for yourself. Pete Davidson is a 20-year old regular guy from Staten Island, NY who now happens to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live. He’s also the youngest cast member in SNL history. His first appearance during this season’s first Weekly Update was hilarious, and we can’t wait to see what else he has in store.

4. Walt Disney

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You know him. I know him. Little girls obsessed with Frozen probably don’t know him…yet. Disney’s legacy is pretty remarkable with an idea that all began with the drawing of a mouse. The Walt Disney Company continues to be a top competitor today in the entertainment business and there are several theme parks all over the world named after Disney.

5. Ralph Lauren

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Ralph went to  Baruch College but ended up dropping out after 2 years. He pitched design ideas to a tie a company he was working for, but got rejected. He then began his own company, working out of a drawer in the Empire State Building. He took rags and turned them into ties, and the rest is history after Neiman Marcus bought 100 of them. He literally went from rags to riches as he now has a net worth of $7.5 billion dollars.

6. George Eastman

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Eastman was the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company and the inventor of roll film which helped bring photography to the mainstream. Although Kodak isn’t as profitable as it once was, Eastman gave the photography world so much and gave people a chance to capture their memories forever.

7. Ellen Degeneres

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Ellen dropped out of college after just one semester and was perfectly content with that; she went on to making money being funny instead. When giving a commencement speech at Tulane University, she said, “I didn’t go to college at all, any college, and I’m not saying you wasted your time or money, but look at me, I’m a huge celebrity.” And also, “Follow your passion and stay true to yourself. Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, and by all means you should follow that.”

8. Abraham Lincoln

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Mr. Lincoln didn’t need no college education to be one of the best presidents that the United States has seen. He abolished slavery, preserved the Union, and put the economy back in a good place. You deserve more than the penny, Abe.

9. Simon Cowell

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So this guy doesn’t go to college butttt he gets to judge people’s stage performances and gets paid mass amounts of money for it? OK. So he’s a professional talent scout and owns Syco, a television production and music publishing company. Not a bad deal Simon, not bad.

10. Asher Roth

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The college drop outs of college drop outs. If you’re decent at singing/rapping, and hate college, maybe you should write a song about it. His record label deal helped him to never return to the place he disliked so much. He probably missed the parties though.

Do you know of any other successful college dropouts?


(images via Tumblr)