Why Dropping Out of School May Not Guarantee Your Success.

Consider these facts

More than 50% of all CEO’s of fortune 500 companies had a C or C average in college.

65% of all US senators came from the bottom half of their class.

75% of US presidents were in the lower half club in school.

More than 80% of American entrepreneurs never finished college.

Wole Soyinka professor and Nobel laureate graduated with a 3rd class in university of Ibadan.

Dangote the richest man in Africa never went to college.

Cosmos Maduka  elementary school drop out and billionaire founder of the Coscharis Group.


Each time people talk about success and its antecedents, I hear a lot of statistics like above. People quote different sources to buttress the fact that success is not often determined by academic intelligence. In fact some go as far as stating that if you do not perform well in school is a pointer that you may/do not need academics to succeed. So we have a lot of academic potentials wasting away under the guise of “it doesn’t matter what I graduate with as long as I know what I want to do with my life”. While the argument may hold some water, oftentimes I am wont to believe that those who push such ideas do so in order to cover their academic incompetence. However, one needs to examine the premise on which such assumptions stand.

With the likes of bill gates, late Steve jobs, and more recently Mark Zuckerberg, topping the list of successful, wealthy dropouts, their stories seems to eclipse the list of successful, wealthy graduates. One also needs to analyze why the latter are sometimes less recognized and celebrated.

I believe, for every successful dropout, there should be at least 10/20 successful graduates if not more. The message that “if Bill Gates (or anyone else) can do it, you can too” need to be examined. Agreed that they are dropouts, was that the only factor that determined their success? The concept of such messages I believe is FOCUS ( spelt out Following One Course Until Success), without which no one can succeed in any endeavor with or without academics. These great men of our time were not only focused on their lives vocation, they had a definite purpose. For them it wasn’t for the money or fame (at least not in the beginning.) They only set out to achieve their heart desires. Something they had immense passion for. How many of those who tout such beliefs ever really make it like those they model? I can bet it with you that Bill Gates and others like him are not the only one who stopped schooling to pursue their perceived life purposes. How many of them do we know?

World over we have several successful men and women who went through school. Ben Carson is one. A neurosurgeon without match. Robert Rowling, the owner of the holding company controlling the Omni Hotels and Gold’s Gym chains. Jerry Yang,  co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc, to mention a few.  These people have made enormous impacts on our lives. However, they were not only successful because they went to school. Rather, other factors contributed towards their achievements. They were also resilient, focused and passionate about their life purposes. It is also obvious that even intelligence has a threshold, because there are far more intelligent graduates who aren’t successful either. So if intelligence gets you running up to certain speed and set you loose. Something else takes you up from there, what exactly is that thing? Divinity, Creativity?

Until we define certain concepts like success, understand our identity, and of course screen the people we lend our “ear time” to or read from, it won’t be long before we start having our best brains dropping out of schools.

So the question is; what really is needed to succeed in life? Common sense, practical intelligence, financial intelligence, creativity, attitudes or opportunities? Kindly use the comment box below to air your views. Thanks.


8 thoughts on “Why Dropping Out of School May Not Guarantee Your Success.

  1. How many drop outs have wasted away? The number of successful drop outs is a tiny fraction of those who have nothing to show for their existence.
    Is education the key? Yes it is but societal values must be embedded with education.
    Happy I’m reading stuffs that adds to us and nt d usual complaints and abuse of government officials. I am happy reading from someone who is not out to impress anyone with his writing skills but writing to change individual mind set

    1. Thanks for reading sir, You are right that societal values must be embedded in education. Even personal Development and other values should be incorporated, so we can have a more complete view of our selves as humans.

      Wow! thanks for the err… credit. 😀

  2. Here’s a great piece on why people shouldn’t be stupid but rather do what they ought to do when they ought to do it.
    However, a great number of people who are not in school or who drop out(as far as I know, in Nigeria) do not do so primarily cos of the cited excuses. Schools are hard 2 get in2. Poverty, poor grades and malpractices lead in major reasons why ppl drop out.
    Well, this article is for the world and am sure it would go a long way in helping a lot of people.
    I like this so much!

    1. @adaobiokwy Thanks so much for your views ma’am. We just have to keep reminding ourselves of issues like this, so we can trash out what the real problems are. I appreciate the comment and I’m happy you like the piece.

  3. I have, not for once ever been amused by those you say school drop-out are always successful. In fact, the list of people they call out represent to me, a very privileged few…

    However, while I consider this piece a great one, I would want you to confirm that Prof. Wole really did finish with a third class. I’ve read interviews which he personally claimed otherwise.


    1. Thanks so much for reading.

      The legend has been around for decades to which the prof has never denied or accepted. I am also aware of certain maxim which says “silence means consent.”

      Anyway, I would love to have links to such interviews to make the appropriate adjustments. As of now, no concrete links available.

      Thanks for stopping by once again.

  4. Let us add a little twist to this thought. i strongly hold that the advocates of the idea do not understand the psychology behind what they say.There is something beyond the ‘poor results or dropping out’ that prompts such idea.And that is what i am interested in. More often than not, it’s an excuse for a failure they did not cause or do not deserve. In school days,i had mates who could not continue for sponsorship purposes. they just could not. therefore no known thing to fight for except…,i had folks who had terrible results too because an Oga said so. and there were no mechanisms to fight the hydra-headed Oga. Once,my H.O.D was quoted in my departmental magazine saying no one could have a first class in English Language. ‘He bi God?’ you might ask,but hey! they had a way to make you not have one. i dont know about now sha o. Situations such as this and related ones are the decays in our higher schools especially our state-owned schools which are more of an extensions of the political party in power . Victims of these acts feel like failures that are left with just one thing. THEIR GUT! That is what is left,that is the psychology behind such statements and idea. so they indulge in motivational books and all of the examples you gave above. similarly,as i have noticed too. How many of the best in schools have turned out innovative ideas? they hardly do. you know why? they have something to fight for! therefore they lack GUT! So the under-dog if they come to the understanding of their GUT, regardless of whatever has befallen them can become the over-lord.

    1. *Oga laide… I thought this was one of paul’s epistles.* Lol. Valid points you rasied bro, very valid points. Thanks for reading and agreeing that there is more to success than the obvious. How have you been?

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