So you’re back at university after 2 months of not being in Europe with your mates, and you’re borderline about to drop out because you hate your course, and you’re sick of doing the whole “lets go round the room and say a lame fact about ourselves” at the start of every new semester. I feel you. The frustration of studying and university as a whole is palpable, and you definitely aren’t alone. Maybe impulsively dropping out of your course to “find yourself” isn’t the right move right now. But maybe you’re a super genius like Albert Einstein who needs to drop out immediately in order to become a millionaire and change the world. We will never know. But if you are legitimately thinking about dropping out of university, yet feel trapped within the societal framework that is going to university, getting a job, marriage, and kids, let me provide for you 10 ‘proof is in the pudding’ case studies of Australians who defied the system, and made an empire all without that $30,000 piece of paper we call a degree.
1. Janine Allis – Founder of Boost Juice
If you haven’t had a ‘Mango Magic’ from Boost Juice, then have you really lived? No, you haven’t. The $200 million empire that is Boost Juice came from the mind of this Australian woman, who dropped out of high school when she was 16 to travel the world and has never attended even a single day of uni in her life. With no business training at all, Allis now has over 500 Boost Juice stores worldwide, a best selling book ‘The Secrets of My Success‘, and is the owner of other Australian businesses ‘Salsas Fresh Mex Grill’ and ‘Cibo Espresso. She is also a part time judge/host on Channel 10‘s ‘Shark Tank‘. Allis’ net worth and the success of her businesses are increasing every single year, all without the memories of late night uni studying and Harvard Style Referencing.
2. Shannon Bennett – Chef, Author
If you haven’t ever personally experienced the exquisite culinary excellence of Shannon Bennett’s restaurants such as Vue De Monde, Jardin Tan or Burnham Beeches, you’re missing out – although, uni student or not, you may find you can’t afford them to begin with. This world renowned chef dropped out of school at the age of 16 to travel the world (I’m starting to see a recurring theme with these entrepreneurs) training as an apprentice in all the capitals of Europe, before returning to Melbourne at age 24 to open Vue De Monde. He frequently appears as a guest judge on Masterchef Australia, he is a brand ambassador for Audi and Miele, and has published 7 cookbooks to date. If you’re looking for a super impressive spot to treat your loved one next anniversary, any of his restaurants are sure to blow you away.
3. Mia Freedman – Author, Editor, Founder of online publisher Mamamia!
This comedic genius is basically the media version of the ultimate girl next door – so effortlessly cool, realistic, funny, and good at everything. Freedman started a Communications degree when she was in her early 20’s but dropped out after a year of uni because she hated it. You go girl. She then did an internship with Cleo magazine and went on to become the youngest ever editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine at age 24. Mia Freedman is now a regular commentator on Channel 9‘s ‘Today Show‘, she was appointed the as the chair of the Federal Governments National Body Image Advisory Group, and founded online publication ‘Mamamia!‘. This media mogul is killing it in her field, and she did it all without student timetabling or HECS.
4. Solomon Lew – Former Chair of the Coles Group
If one of your parents is the owner of a successful retail company that you may potentially be able to catapult to the top of the market, then you’re basically Solomon Lew. When his father died while Lew was just a teenager, he was forced to take control of his fathers’ company and was left supplying retail giant Myer for many years. Working his way up the corporate ladder, and following in his fathers’ footsteps of being a successful business man, Lew went on to lead companies such as Myer, David Jones, Coles, Breville, Just Jeans and Peter Alexander. Alright so maybe inheriting a company isn’t the most realistic option for every uni student, but never the less, Lew proves that you don’t need a piece of paper to run a successful business, just ask the $1.2 billion he has in his pocket.
5. Anh Do – Comedian, Author, Artist, Actor
This guy decided 4 and a half years into his Business Law Degree to call it quits – and it was a great call, even if he did take so long to reach the conclusion that it wasn’t a good fit. Deciding that law wasn’t for him, and that comedy was his true calling, Anh Do dropped out of uni as a 20 something-year-old to do stand up comedy full time and also to paint. Drawing on experiences from his life early on, Do went on to publish a book titled ‘The Happiest Refugee‘ recounting his story of migrating to Australia, and later took part in Australian shows ‘Dancing With The Stars‘ and ‘Thank God You’re Here‘. He was nominated as a finalist for The Archibald Prize in 2014 and 2017 and now hosts his own television show called ‘Anh’s Brush With Fame‘. Multi-talented, and hey, maybe one day he can do that last 6 months of his law degree if he changes his mind?
6. James Packer – Businessman and Investor
Just about everyone has heard of James Packer, and not just because he is dating Mariah Carey – he basically owns all of Australia, and you’ve probably contributed to his mass wealth at some point. Packer is the son of media tycoon Kerry Packer and inherited his families company Consolidated Press Holdings Limited. He is the former chairman of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, is the current Executive Chairman of Crown Resorts, and in 2016 was ranked the seventh richest Australian by Forbes Magazine. Packer explained in an interview that he didn’t go to university because he just couldn’t “get the marks”. Sounds like all he needed was a bit of advice from his parents, and this equipped him with a wealth of knowledge that allowed him to grow his family’s empire.
7. Jo Burston – Founder and CEO of Rare Birds
This superwoman started her career after going back to her primary school one day with a film crew and asking young boys and girls there what a successful entrepreneur looked like in their head. After a wave of responses from the children based around the recurring theme that men are the bread winners and women stay home and take care of the children, Burston decided something needed to change. The company she built Rare Birds focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs and giving them the tools they need to excel. She now owns 8 companies, has released two books, If She Can I Can, and Brilliant Businesskids, and has even rubbed shoulders with some of the most powerful business people in the world including holidaying on the private island that belongs to Richard Branson. The best part? She never completed even a single day of university, proof that not only are we seeing a shift in the stereotypes of gender and experience that comes with owning a business, but she is leading the way for other people to follow in her footsteps.