There are a good number of skeptical folks out there, including educators themselves, who believe that no individual of an intellectual merit has ever learned anything important after enrolling in a distance learning program. A response to this silly cliché is that learning takes place inside the head of an individual and not necessarily in the classroom of a magnificent university. 


The aforementioned response explains why many distance learners have gone on to win Nobel prizes, turned out be the minds behind entrepreneurial empires and even innovated something worthy of global acclaim.



Here’s a list of six personalities who opted for distance learning and made a dent in the universe:






1)    Shaquille O’Neal


When one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Shaquille O’Neal dropped out of his junior year at Louisiana State to play in the NBA, he vowed to his mother that he would return to complete his degree. He did exactly what he had promised by earning his BA through distance mode at LSU in 2000. In 2005, he went on to earn a Master’s in Business Administration through the online course offered at the University of Phoenix. That’s not all, he also holds a PhD. in Leadership and Education from Barry University.






2)    Arnold Schwarzenegger


“The Terminator” saw college as an indispensable part of his success in his adopted homeland. In the year 1979, Arnold enrolled himself in a distance education course at The University of Wisconsin. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and International Economics through distance mode. His education also played a pivotal role in helping him slide behind the Governor’s desk in the State of California. Arnold, with his success, proved that an ambitious individual does not need to stick to the confines of a classroom to obtain education.







3)    Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize awardee, could not get access face-to-face education due to his prison confinement. However, it did not discourage him from getting a degree. While in prison, Mandela went on to get a Bachelor in Law degree from the University of London through distance learning. Even before the prison episode in his life, he had attained his Bachelor’s degree in Arts from the University of South Africa, which was again through distance mode of learning.







4)    James Franco


The famous Hollywood star, James Franco, who impressed everyone with his terrific performances in 127 Hours, Spiderman and The Interview dropped out from the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergrad. However, he later went back to the same university to complete his education and enrolled in their online extension program. He also completed his Master’s degree from Columbia University as a distance learner.







5)    Steven Spielberg


A not so good report card showed one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, Steven Spielberg the way out of the California State University in 1968. Soon after, he headed out to Hollywood to try his hand at filmmaking and there was no looking back from there. Lack of a degree didn’t stop Spielberg from giving the world cinematic hits such as Jaws, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones. He even co-founded DreamWorks Animation studio, which has produced some of the greatest Hollywood hits. However, he never underestimated the value of education and enrolled himself with Charles Sturt University (CSU) to complete his Bachelor’s through their distance learning mode.






6)    Narendra Modi


The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi too is a distance learner. He holds a degree in Political Science from the reputed Delhi University, which he pursued through distance education while working on his political career.


These were the six talented personalities who chose distance learning and achieved something extraordinary in their lives. In case we have missed out anyone or you want to add to the list, feel free to share them in the comments section below. As always, we’d love to hear from you!



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