I just graduated college and I think it’s an excellent place to be. I got to know myself a lot better and explore ideas that matter. It was also an opportunity to grow friends over common interests. The degree system offers many students not only qualifications in the academic sphere but also financial security for the future. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect answer for everyone.

For those who are driven and focused, a college degree is not the only way to success. There are millionaires who didn’t go to college. Many of the world’s most successful people haven’t even graduated. As Bill Gates, a Harvard dropout and one of the world’s most successful college dropouts would tell you: ‘To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.’

1. Ellen DeGeneres

I may be biased, but I think Ellen is my favorite college dropout. She left the University of New Orleans after just one semester to work full-time at a law firm, also while waitressing and working at J.C. Penney. She was doing stand-up comedy on the side, and five years later it had turned into a national tour, and she was named Showtime’s Funniest Person in America.

2. Dorothy Day

The co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement (which combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent action on their behalf) was a two-year scholarship student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before dropping out. Day moved to New York City to become a social crusader, and he went on to become one of America’s most powerful social justice leaders. Children, money isn’t everything.

3. Oprah

Oprah’s journey is a shining example of overcoming college dropout stories. She was offered a full scholarship to study communications at Tennessee State University, and this has led her to become one of the most successful people in America. This young woman is only one class away from graduating, but she’s already in the workforce and beginning a career as a broadcast journalist. Last year, the university finally invited her for a speech. They would have liked to hear from her earlier, but she wanted to graduate first and be out there in the real world, so she finished her work and received that credit.

4. Lady Gaga

We know that Gaga wasn’t made to be on school walls. Despite NYU not being her dream school, she promised her dad that if she had success in her music career in one year’s time, she would return to the school. “I left New York and went back to the Midwest to hone my skills,” she said.

5. Harper Lee

Sometimes you go to law school; sometimes you write the Best Novel of the Century. It just so happened that way. Harper Lee attended law school for her undergraduate degree in Tuscaloosa. Luckily for us, she stopped to drop out of law school after just one semester to hit the ground running and finish her novel.

6. Emma Stone

Emma Stone is a powerful speaker, and moreover is the king of Powerpoint presentations. Having been a home-schooled child, she wanted to convince her parents that she should be allowed to quit school, and even before moving to L.A., she wanted to move there. The girl knows exactly who she is and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. She’s a bold, independent girl and a shining example of a college dropout success!

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