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7 Successful People Who Flunked Out of College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Purdue chapter.

With final exam week in full swing, it’s easy to get hung up on your grades. Between the final that you think you failed, and the final that you actually failed, “stressed-out” is an understatement. You’re afraid of flunking out of college, and being unsuccessful in life. I’ve written this article to help remind you that sometimes failure is necessary in order to be successful.

Bill Gates

Many people know of Bill Gates as being the founder of Microsoft. Little did you know that he dropped out of Harvard University. Now he’s the richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $81 billion.

Oprah Winfrey

This woman is a powerhouse! She is a renowned talk show host, the founder of Harpo Studios (fun fact: Harpo is Oprah backwards), and she created the top-rated talk show of all time, The Oprah Winfrey Show. Not to mention the fact that she has a net worth of $2.9 billion. But before she accomplished all of that, she was a college dropout from Tennessee State University.

Dick Cheney

 Not only did he flunk out of Yale University once, but twice. Despite this, he went on to be a member of the U.S House of Representatives from 1979-1989, was the Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush, and later became the Vice President of the United States under George W. Bush.

Scott Carpenter

He was the first human to go into both inner and outer space, earning him the titles of astronaut and aquanaut, and a long career with NASA. He started out studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Colorado, but flunked out during his senior year.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

He failed out of Princeton University, but later went on to write the American classic, The Great Gatsby, along with many other novels and short stories.

David Geffen

Not only did he flunk out of Brooklyn College, but he also dropped out of the University of Texas. However, that didn’t stop him from becoming the founder of three different companies, which are Asylum Records, Geffen Records, and DreamWorks. He now has a net worth of $6.9 billion.

John Lennon

He had an extremely successful career despite being expelled from the Liverpool College of Art. Aside from being a key member of The Beatles, John Lennon also had an extremely successful solo career. He was even named the fifth greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone.

If all of these people hadn’t failed or dropped out of college, they would not be nearly as successful as they are today. Now, I’m not saying that you need to flunk out of college in order to be successful. However, I am saying that failing an exam or having to retake an entire class is not the end of the world. You will still have a future, and countless opportunities. The people above are proof that you can fail a couple of exams, or college completely, and still be successful. There’s a Michael Jordon quote that I think sums this up very nicely:

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Danielle Wilkinson is an Atlanta native and currently a senior at Purdue University studying Mass Communication. She is the co-correspondent and Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus Purdue. She has written for several online and print publications in the past including The Purdue Exponent, The Tab, Society 19, Study Breaks Magazine and Voy Study Abroad. She loves traveling, shopping and everything entertainment, especially movies and TV, but 90s rom coms will always be her favorite. She hopes to move to California one day to pursue a career in marketing. In her free time, she loves YouTube, watching movies with her friends, working on her novel, drinking tea and reading books.