11 Celebs Who Made It Without Uni
There’s a lot of weird pressure these days to go to Uni. People talk about it like it’s THE compulsory ingredient for life success, leaving people who aren’t planning on going or who might not get in in a cold sweat freaking out about their future.
But we’re here to restore your faith. Don’t let people tell you that without Uni you can’t hope to succeed, cos that’s totally not true - and we have proof.
Let’s take a look at 11 Celebs who have hit it big-time without University degrees, or A levels, or even GCSEs.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo rose to fame when he did that amazing performance as a young boy with disabilities in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ alongside Johnny Depp (who’s not awful at acting either). Leo really stole the show though, receiving an Oscar nomination, and ever since he’s gone from strength to strength. T
he whole world went into major meltdown mode when it took so long for him to get an Oscar, he’s THAT good.
And he didn’t go to Uni, or finish high school. When Leo was just 16 years old he told his parents he wanted to drop out of school to do acting, and they supported him all the way. It made sense - he struggled focusing in class but was obsessed with films and came into his element when performing.
So he chose acting over education - can you imagine if he hadn't?
Zoe Sugg is one of the biggest YouTube stars around with over 11 million followers. It was December 2009 when she made her first video entitled, ‘60 Things In My Bedroom’, complete with a typically cutsey, giggling blooper reel. And from there, the star was born. She specialises in make-up tutorials and recommending items from her latest shopping sprees.
Zoella is so popular that she has made a fully-fledged, glamourous and luxurious life out of her YouTube channel. She won the Radio 1 Teen Awards for 'Best British Vlogger' in 2013 and 2014 (her YouTube star bro Joe Sugg beat her to it in 2015), and she’s even written a record breaking series of novels called Girl Online.
Fame, glory, and free make-up samples, all without going to University. Nice one Zoella.
Of course, no one can teach us about the value of hard work and determination like rapping mastermind Eminem. He keeps a formidable rhythm, his lyrics range from hilariously witty to desperately heart-wrenching, and he can totally destroy ANY rapper in a freestyle battle.
No one can claim that this guy isn’t a bit of a genius.
Yet he failed 9th grade 3 times. After the third time he simply quit school to turn to his greatest passion – rapping.
School just wasn’t for him. And he never looked back.
Cheryl is known now as an international popstar, X Factor judge, and profesh beauty queen, but life wasn’t always so easy for her.
Her family struggled to make ends meet when she was growing up and she was suspended twice from school for fighting and swearing. She called herself a “terrible” pupil, saying teachers were left with no other option than to kick her out of class.
She eventually left to pursue her performance ambitions at 16, with few qualifications. Oh how things change…
Adele is the full-time soulful songstress that can truly belt for Britain.
She’s just about the biggest musical talent Britain has atm. In fact, she clinched the biggest record deal for any British musician ever when she signed a £90 million contract with Sony earlier this year.
Adele didn’t go to a regular school and so didn’t get any A-levels. Instead, she attended the prestigious BRIT School to study music full time in the footsteps of many famous music stars of the past, present, and future e.g. Jessie J, Amy Winehouse, Katie B, Katie Melua, Leona Lewis… the list goes on!
6. Sir Alan Sugar and Richard Branson
If you’ve got passion, persistence, energy, determination and an eye for business – why not become an entrepreneur? That’s what Sir Alan Sugar did.
After Alan had climbed to the top of the property market and made money through his own merit, he absolutely rocketed to fame as the iconic boss firing everyone from ‘The Apprentice’ and delivering deliciously hilarious one-liners. And guess what? He only got one GCSE.
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson failed his GCSE exams and quit school aged 16. Then he became one of the most successful entrepreneurs around, founding the Virgin Group and hitting the absolute jackpot.
Obviously success isn’t about money… but they are both billionaires… so like, really, really rich. Plus, they’re both ‘Sirs’. And they didn’t need qualifications to form their formidable empires.
7. Harry Styles
One Direction star Harry Styles has become a fan favourite among teenagers (and let’s face it, women of absolutely any and every age) around the world. Harry auditioned for X Factor in 2010, performing an adorable acapella version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ for the judges, before making it through and being flung together with three others to form the famous One Direction. Although they came third, they majorly took off in the US. Their second and third albums shot straight to number one.
Harry did take his GCSEs, but the band became so big that it was prioritised over further study, and neither Hazza nor any of the other 1D lads ever went to Uni.
And we’re prettyyyy sure they don’t regret it.
8. Maisie Williams
Ok, so Maisie’s the young Game of Thrones actress who plays the troubled Arya Stark – who has deep, dark, murderous impulses but also completely honourable intentions (v. confusing and hard to deal with).
Maisie quit school at 14 to pursue the acting opportunities on offer and so has no GCSEs.
Although she still has tutors, Maisie can’t go back to school because GoT is crazy with locations and sends its casts everywhere and anywhere, so she would be uprooted constantly.
But hey, Maisie’s still doing pretty well, don’t you think?
9. Simon Cowell
He’s the grumpy, high-trouser-wearing, sarcastic-one-liner-delivering X Factor judge that we all know and love (or love to hate)… it’s SIMON COWELL.
Seeing as he has pretty much made his reputation by being uppity and hard to please, it may come as a surprise that Simon actually struggled to get along at school, and so wasn’t very pleasing to his teachers.
Yep, Si dropped out of school at 16, to work at EMI in the mailroom. At 23 he founded his own record label (Fanfare), and worked his way up through hard work (and probably unparalleled self-confidence) to present on American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor.
He’s the judge everyone wants a piece of, and he’s made himself rich and successful AF. All without qualifications.
10. Jay Z
How did Jay Z rise to become one of the most influential people in the music industry?
Yep, Jay Z had 99 problems, but passing his exams wasn’t one of them. He dropped out of high school!
So what now? Well, he signed a 10-year $150 million deal with Live Nation in 2008, which probably left him feeling pretty pleased with how things have turned out.
He’s not just one of the most successful and well-known rappers in the music industry, he married Beyoncé. And if that’s not success, we don’t know what is.
11. Kylie Jenner
YShe first stepped into the limelight as a young teenager growing up in a house of loud, more famous family members in ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, which launched in 2007. But millions and millions of dollars later, Kylie has built her own Empire and is followed by more than 71 million people on Instagram.
Always obsessed with makeup (and lip liner in particular), she used to post pictures labelling the products she was using, and they used to completely sell out. So Kylie became an entrepreneur and created her very own lip kit. Now she’s the founder of Kylie Cosmetics.
Basically, Kylie’s made it BIG time, and made enough money to last a lifetime, and she’s only just turned 19. And, although she got her High School Diploma, she never went to uni.
SO what can we conclude? Of course, going to University is all well and good, and trying your hardest at GCSE and A level is DEFFO advisable, ('cos it’s always good to have grades to fall back on when applying for jobs) but a lot of success comes from more than just exam results.
Success comes from passion, hard work, commitment, and often a lot of luck! But remember, if you think outside the box you can make your own luck, just like all of these super-successful, super-talented celebs.
In any case, if you try your hardest in whatever you do and do what you love, then you are already the pinnacle of success.