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The Food Network superstar enrolled at Pace University to study literature and communications after high school but dropped out to rethink her career goals. As she bounced between food service jobs in New York, her big idea hit: She would teach cooking classes with recipes you could whip up in 30 minutes or less. A local TV station caught wind and she locked down her own segment.
One credit shy of graduation at Tennessee State University, Winfrey dropped out when she was offered a co-anchor position on the evening news in Baltimore. Her boss from that job hooked her up with a morning talk show gig in Chicago--and she pretty much owned it from there. (Note: She went back and got her degree in 1987.)
His net worth may be $5 billion (hello, he owns his own island), but the founder of the Virgin Group dropped out of high school to launch his first business at age 16. The entrepreneur has famously offered his two cents on higher education, maintaining that energy, curiosity and a little obstinacy are all one needs to get ahead.
Before she became the dessert maven known as Mrs. Fields, Debbi spent two years in junior college, quitting to marry her first husband. She was a happy housewife until one of her husband’s clients asked: “What do you do?” In search of a better answer, she got a bank loan to open her own cookie shop. Her (Her (soon-to-be-ex) husband bet she couldn’t sell $50 worth of cookies on her first day. She sold $75.
Sure, he got into Harvard. But he dropped out during his sophomore year... to launch this teeny tiny thing called Facebook.
Two years into business school at Baruch College in New York, the fashion designer dropped out to join the Army. When he returned to the States, he landed a retail job at Brooks Brothers and, shortly after, began designing his own line of ties under the brand name Polo.
Named “Harvard’s most successful dropout” by The Harvard Crimson, the now bazillionaire famously quit school after two years to found Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. He received an honorary degree in 2007, and recently blogged some advice to young ne're-do-wells: “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.”
After her mom had a stroke, the future multi-millionaire dropped out of high school to care for her family. She used the kitchen in her London apartment to mix up bath oils and work as a facialist, and when a client requested 100 bottles of her nutmeg-and-ginger concoction for a dinner party, she was on her way to owning a fragrance empire.
The Oscar-winning director enrolled in Fullerton College to study physics but quickly dropped out, married a waitress and became a truck driver for the local school district. After watching Star Wars, the guy geeked out over filmmaking, quit his job and used his savings to buy his own equipment. He traveled to Rome to re-cut his first film, which is where he got the idea for a little something called The Terminator.
So your hippie niece dropped out of school to focus on her organic-peanut butter business. Quit your worrying! Here, nine reasons why you should cut her some slack and think big picture.
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