7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

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Successful People Didnt Do Well School

School isn’t the ultimate determinant of success! There are people who were always brilliant in academics and graduated from top-notch colleges/universities but remained unsuccessful. On the other hand, there are successful people who didn’t do well at school. 

So, what is the mantra of success? 

Before answering that read on to know about great people who inspired the world with their achievements by using just the – Power of Mind.

Here are 7 successful people who didn’t do well at school: 

1. Mark Twain

Successful People Didnt Do Well School Mark Twain
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, popular as Mark Twain, was a hyper kid. He struggled to sit still in one place. He quit his formal schooling at the age of 12 due to his father’s death. Struggling with poverty, he had no option but to work in a printing shop – at such a tender age – and support his family. He turned to be a brilliant typesetter and won an award for the quality of his work. He also got a job editing for a small agricultural newspaper.

Despite official education, he was a highly educated man in many aspects. Out of his own curiosity and learning spirit, he learnt about botany, history, different cultures across the world  and became educated in politics and government too. He travelled places and that was the main source of his rich knowledge and managed to earn the reputation as one of the most educated men of all time.

Twain started to write news with the element of humor that was admired by people. Soon his newspaper was very successful, which triggered his interest in writing articles in other newspapers too. 

He crafted traveller’s stories from all over the world and when his books were published, he gained worldwide recognition. Thanks to Twain for giving us the best gifts – “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” that have been best sellers for 150 years. At the age of  67 he became a professor in Missouri’s and Oxford’s university.

Related: 50+ Leonardo DiCaprio Quotes That Will Get You Going On The Road To Success

2. Thomas Edison

Successful People Didnt Do Well School Thomas Edison
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

He is one of the great personalities who didn’t do well in school. He went to school at the age 8 and was the worst performer in his class. Teachers never liked Thomas because he was disobedient  and told him in front of the entire class that he was moron. Thomas stayed in the school for just three months and went  back home. After his insult, he decided to never return to school.  

Edison started studying at home and was supported by his mother. However, his father always believed that Thomas is not very intelligent. 

Thomas loved reading and was a vivid reader of works by Shakespeare and Dickens. Yet he couldn’t write letters – without grammatical errors – even when he was 19 years old. One day his mother gave him the book “School of physics”, which sparked his interest in science and the spirit of invention. 

He created a small workshop in his house to conduct experiments. At the age of 12 he designed an electric trap for mice. He had to take a job to improvise his workshop,  gather more resources and manage his expenses. 

He travelled to his workplace by train that took three hours daily and Thomas used this time to study or sell newspapers/fruits/nuts/candies in the train.  At this tender age he managed to buy an old hand press  to print a small newspaper about the train’s schedule and some political news. 

In a short span of time, Thomas Edison made some important inventions like – phonograph, microphone, electric light,  photo camera, and perfected a telephone and electric generator. 

At the age of 35, he launched the first power station in New York) and owned two and a half thousand patents. He left a lasting impression on people with his famous words- 

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.”

3. Abraham Lincoln

Successful People Didnt Do Well School Abraham Lincolnh
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

The personality popular for “emancipation proclamation” and freedom of American Slaves was uneducated too. He was the son of a lumberjack and didn’t even go to primary school. 

While working in his father’s farm, Lincoln also managed to read and write. He started studying law books at the age of 26 and worked hard. Two years later he managed to get the license to practise law. 

His humble background and lack of official education often caused him troubles. His political rivals left no opportunity to humiliate him. But, Lincoln was unstoppable and moved ahead with his ambition. 
He left people speechless with his achievements – Douglas debates, the presidential election of 1860, first inaugural address, wartime leadership, Gettysburg Address and many more.

Read What Kind of Communicator You Are? Visual Personality Test

4. Heinrich Schliemann

Heinrich Schliemann
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

Schliemann was 8 years old, when he developed a burning desire and determination to discover the city of Troy after seeing the representation of burning Troy in a magazine. His father explained to him that it was a mythical city but in vain. 

At the age of 14, he found a job in a ship that would travel to America. He planned to become the student of a merchant. But, he was stuck in the Netherlands, because his ship wrecked on the Dutch coast.

In the next three years he learned to read and write in different languages –  Dutch, Spanish, Italian, English, French, Russian and Portuguese. He started trading guinea colors, nitro, sulfur etc. and became a millionaire when he was just 26 years old. 

When he travelled to America he learnt Polish and Swedish and later started trading Gold. Once he had enough wealth accumulated he began chasing his childhood dream – to discover Homer’s Troy. He travelled in the East and settled in Greece, where he married a Greek woman. 

At the age of 48, he began excavations in Asia Minor and soon he found his “dream city”.

Related: 7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Spending Time Alone Makes You More Successful

5. Charles Dickens

 Charles Dickens
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

Charles Dickens who is author of timeless classics such as ‘Hard Times,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Great Expectations.’ left school at the age of 11. 

He was the son of a naval clerk and second of eight children. His family remained poor despite best efforts. His father was sent to prison for debt, which forced Charles to  leave his school and work at a boot-blacking factory.

“I really wonder, when I look back in my past, what a start for a life, to be humiliated by such an incompetent and audacious person”.

The above lines from “David Copperfield” written in the context of a teacher who seemed to enjoy torturing students, give us a hint that Dickens had a hard time at school.

Also, his parents were uncaring, and Dickens had to take the responsibility to look after his five younger siblings. He felt abandoned and betrayed by his parents. These sentiments would later become a recurring theme in his writing.

When his family was incarcerated because of debts, Charles was the only one to avoid prison. He stayed in a room alone, having inherited only a box filled with books. He turned out to be a vivid reader. While reading “Robinson Crusoe” and “Gulliver’s travels” he used to dream about writing something comparable to them.

He started working as a freelance reporter at the law courts of London and within a short time period he was reporting for two major London newspapers. He worked on sketches for various magazines under the pseudonym “Boz.” and three years later his clippings were published in his first book, Sketches by Boz.

In 1866 he published The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, which became wildly popular with readers. He created some of the world’s best known fictional characters and became popular as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.

6. Charlie Spencer Chaplin (Charlot)

Charlie Chaplin
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

Who doesn’t know the most recognizable figure of the 20th century. But, what most people don’t know is that he never went to school. Satisfying his hunger was the only goal in his childhood because his family could not come out of indescribable poverty.

He lived in London with his mother and half brother. His mother worked as a needlewoman and was later taken to an asylum. And the children went to the orphanage. 

After Chaplin grew up supporting himself with a range of jobs, he became an actor in the theater and professional entertainer in 1897. Lack of education bothered him when he was 21 years old. He wanted to know what everyone knew so that he could defend himself against the contempt of the world. 

The first book he bought was English Grammar and, later, an english-latin dictionary, but never read them.  Later he bought the book “The World as Will and Representation” by Arthur Schopenhauer and kept on reading it again and again for years without ever fully understanding it.

After several hardships, Charlie Chaplin became the man who made the world laugh and cry. He took the cinema to a new level! Not just a world-class comedian, but he was a great producer, writer, director, and composer and later turned to be one of the most important figures in motion-picture history.

Read How Type A You Really Are? Visual Personality Test

7. Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

Benjamin, well known for inventing electricity, was sent to Boston Latin School at age eight. He excelled in his studies, but the very next year he was transferred to George Brownell’s English School, where he acquired fair writing skills but failed in arithmetic. There was no progress and at the age of 10, he was taken home to support his father’s business. And that was an end to Benjamin’s formal education. 

Though he could never get formal education, he never stopped learning. He was an extensive reader  and managed to read about humanities and science while assisting his father in candle- and soap-making. 

When he was 12 years old, he took an interest in the business of printing. His personal studies, life experiences, and interaction with people were the source of his knowledge and communication. 

Isn’t it interesting to know that this brilliant statesman, scientist, philosopher and writer, had minimal formal education. His  intelligence and passion to learn  made him a historically recognized mind.

Besides the above-mentioned people, there are

Are you the one with tumultuous school experiences? Do you think you need to drop out of school/college due to low grades or any unforeseen circumstances?

Well, don’t worry! 

You can always become successful with the power of your mind. Your curiosity, passion to learn, hard work, determination, perseverance determines your success!


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7 Successful People Who Didn’t Do Well At School

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    Marinella Meñez & Ryan Viernes

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