The Leaving Cert: There’s More To Life Than Points!

As thousands of anxious and excited students receive their Leaving Cert results today, all talk will be of college places and further education options. But those of you who didn’t fair quite so well needn’t worry! It’s worth remembering that while education is obviously important, it isn’t the ultimate determinate of success. Lorraine Murphy and Brian Moss have a look at some of the world’s most successful people, who weren’t exactly the highest of achievers in school.

Richard Branson

Branson may be one of the UK’s most recognisable and flamboyant billionaire businessmen, but the founder of Virgin wasn’t exactly a straight A student, with many teachers actually describing him as stupid and lazy.

Despite suffering from severe dyslexia, Branson set up The Student at the age of 16 – a magazine he distributed to his fellow students in Stowe where he was a pupil.

Branson just about graduated from secondary school, but that would be as far as he would go education-wise.

After that, he branched out from the magazine industry, and began selling records from a phone booth; a venture which eventually led to the establishment of Virgin. Well, he can certainly call on a few pounds at this stage!

Katy Perry

Katy Perry -

Born Katheryn Hudson, Katy Perry dropped out of Santa Barbara Don Pueblos High School at the age of 15 to pursue her musical dreams.

Now worth a whopping $140million, the gamble certainly paid off, as this superstar has proven education isn’t the only route to success.

And Perry’s star continues to rise, with her recent halftime Superbowl performance being viewed by 118.5 million people – making it the most watched halftime show in Superbowl history!

The singer is also the most followed Twitter user in the world, with an army of 74 million followers online. And understandably so, as she regularly tweets profound musings such as “Ya know yer sanging good when ya lose yer balance & fall over in the vocal booth”.

Having penned lyrics such as “Is this a hickie or a bruise?” one can only question the depths Perry’s song writing skills may have reached, had she only remained another year or two in school… Such a shame.

Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis’s turn as honest Abe earned him an Oscar… Which was unsurprising as Lincoln still holds a huge place in the hearts of Americans who view him as one of their greatest presidents.

However, Lincoln himself actually received little or no formal education.

Lincoln taught himself grammar at the age of 23 and went on to be a leading lawyer, before becoming the 16th President of the United States, where he guided his country through one of its most tumultuous phases – the civil war.

Not bad for a fella who spent less than year in school! Lincoln was also known for his sense of humour and razor wit, before his untimely death at the hands of John Wilkes Booth.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs -

Hey! Are you reading this on an iPad or Apple device?! Well the man who made that possible also struggled in school.

Six months was all Steve Jobs could manage in Reed College, Oregon, before he dropped out to focus on the business of creating ground-breaking technology.

Jobs, however, didn’t want to waste his parents’ hard earned cash on higher education. Instead he struggled to pay his own way, by sleeping on friends’ apartment floors and returning Coke bottles to earn enough money to eat.

Interestingly, Jobs was actually adopted, and the stipulation set forth by his birth mother was that she would only give him up to Paul and Clara Jobs if they agreed to make sure Steve attended college.

Well, she never said he had to finish!

Ellen DeGeneres

Born and raised in Metairie, Louisiana, it made sense for Ellen DeGeneres to attend the University of New Orleans to study communications.

However, what didn’t make sense to Ellen’s family and friends, was how she only lasted one semester before embarking on a series of low-paid jobs, including bartending, waitressing, customer service and painting houses.

Of course, she was performing stand-up comedy on the side, and five years later she was touring the nation, and was named Showtime’s Funniest Person in America.

Now one of the highest paid personalities on American television, Ellen has been included in Forbe’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and TIME magazine’s Most Influential People lists. A multi-award winning actor, author, presenter, producer and writer, DeGeneres has hosted both the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, AND generated over $60 million in humanitarian projects.

Her school life may have been a joke, but it’s clear who is having the last laugh now. (It’s Ellen.)

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill -

It may surprise you to find out that the fella who was voted the greatest Brit of all time wasn’t exactly leading the pack when it came to his academic record.

Although he came from aristocracy, and had the best education available to him, the young Winston Churchill showed little promise in school; as a debilitating speech impediment further obstructed his studies.

He had to apply three times to the Royal Military College, and was only accepted after applying for the cavalry rather than infantry, because the grade requirements were lower, and it didn’t involve math. In fairness, he’s not the first to try and dodge maths to be honest.


Lorraine Murphy and Brian Moss present The Breakfast BLT on Tipp FM – weekdays from 6 to 9am

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