It's not all about an education

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2008, 12:00am

Despite the emphasis we place on education, many famous names in history have achieved greatness despite dropping out of school at an early age. In fact, eight US presidents were dropouts, as were 55 bestselling authors and 10 Nobel Prize winners.

Perhaps the most famous dropout of all, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), left high school at the age of 15. One year later he applied for a place at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, but failed the entrance exam.

Nevertheless, Einstein made scientific history with his theory of relativity, among other breakthroughs, winning him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) might be a towering figure in Victorian fiction, but he dropped out of school when he was just 12 to work 10-hour days at Warren's Boot Blacking factory. All the same, he overcame his lack of education to become one of the most celebrated authors of all time.

The name Harland Sanders (1890-1980) may not ring any bells, but his alias, Colonel Sanders, should. From the age of six, Sanders had to cook for his widowed mother and the rest of his family, before dropping out of seventh grade and working in a variety of jobs. Sanders went on to earn a law degree by correspondence and founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, famously known today as KFC.