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Jul 09 2017
by Zoe Forest

10 Celebrities Who Went to College After Fame

By Zoe Forest - Jul 09 2017
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Typically, we go to college to further our job prospects, and many believe college is all about job preparation. But for these 10 people who already achieved fame and wealth, a college education is about a lot more than the job market. 

1. Natalie Portman

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By the age of 18, Natalie Portman had already starred in Leon: The Professional and The Phantom Menace, in addition to appearing in six other films. Despite her young acting success, Portman attended Harvard University from 1999-2003, where she published two research papers in science journals and graduated with a degree in psychology. During these years, Portman chose to limit her acting to concentrate on her studies, despite knowing it could jeopardize her career. 

2. Emma Watson

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Emma Watson was given the role of a lifetime at the age of 10 as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. The success of the movies launched her acting career, but Watson still found the time to attend Brown University, where she graduated with a degree in English in only five years. Watson is a huge advocate for equal access to education around the globe. 

3. Mayim Bialik

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This Big Bang Theory actress is just as smart as her character. Mayim Bialik started as a child actress in various TV shows, eventually playing the title character on the sitcom Blossom. After graduating from North Hollywood High School, she attended UCLA and obtained a degree in neuroscience. After several years of focusing on her acting career, Bialik went back to UCLA for a Ph.D. in neuroscience. She currently stars as a neuroscientist on The Big Bang Theory. 

4. James Franco

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James Franco went to UCLA right after high school to study English, but he dropped a year later to pursue his true passion of acting. Eventually, Franco felt the need to go back to school and reenrolled at UCLA to finish his English degree. Franco continued his acting career during his time at UCLA and managed to graduate in two years by taking advantage of independent study. He then moved to New York where he simultaneously studied at Columbia's MFA Writing Program, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking and Brooklyn College for fiction writing, though he only graduated from Columbia. He is also a Ph.D. student at Yale University for English.

5. Jodie Foster

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Jodie Foster, often cited as one of the greatest actresses of her generation, made her acting debut at age three. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she appeared in various TV shows, films and even hosted SNL at the age of 14. But education was just as important in Foster's life. She graduated as the valedictorian of her high school and went on to attend Yale University where she majored in literature and graduated with honors. 

6. Michael Jordan

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One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan dropped out of UNC Chapel Hill to pursue his NBA career. Despite quickly establishing an impressive career, Jordan returned to UNC to earn a degree in cultural geography. 

7. Dylan and Cole Spouse

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The beloved Disney Channel stars both attended NYU from 2011-2015 where Dylan studied video game design and Cole studied archaeology, though both express an interest in continuing acting after college.  

8. Steven Spielberg

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This famous director initially applied to USC's film school but was rejected. Steven Spielberg instead attended CSU-Long Beach after high school but dropped out after securing a productions job at Universal Studios. After creating classic films such as Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park (just to name a few, as the list is much longer), a college degree seems pointless, but Spielberg reenrolled at CSU-Long Beach to finish his degree in film and electronic arts and graduated in 2002. 

9. Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria, best known for a leading role on Desperate Housewives, first obtained a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M before rising to fame. After college, she moved to Los Angeles and started a successful acting career. However, Longoria still found the time in her busy schedule to return to school in 2010 to earn a Master's degree in Chicano studies from CSU-Northridge. 

10. Oprah Winfrey

Wikimedia Commons

The inspirational media tycoon enrolled at Tennessee State University to study communication and theater, but she dropped out to start her career in broadcast media. Thirteen years later, TSU asked Winfrey to give the commencement address, but she refused as she had not finished her college degree. This prompted her to finish up her final credits and she earned her degree in communications. 

Fame and glory weren't everything to these 10 celebrities. They valued the importance of education and made a point to earn their degree even after great career success. We can all take a lesson from them as we embark on our college journey. College isn't all about getting a job; it is about growing and learning for the sake of just learning. 

Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Zoe Forest - University of California, Berkeley

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