Not all of our favorite celebrities gained their fame and fortune by showing off their school smarts. But some of those A-listers did take the university route, at least for a while. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most notable students to pass through the classrooms and quads of college life.
Madonna, University of Michigan
It comes with little surprise that the queen of pop studied modern dance at the University of Michigan in the late 1970s. After getting a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, this budding performer took off to New York City and dropped out of college two years short of graduation.
Julia Stiles, Columbia University
After showing off her dance skills in Save The Last Danceand showing off her tough side in 10 Things I Hate About You, this actress gave life as a student a try. She graduated in 2005 with a degree in English literature. According to a Hollywood.com article from 2000, she couldn’t decide on a major at first and took classes in Spanish, international politics, literature and psychology.
Lady Gaga, New York University
Before all those crazy costumes and equally insane ticket demands to see her perform, Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) was a typical college student. At 17, she studied drama at the Tisch School of the Arts, but only lasted a year before pursuing a more eccentric career path, inspired by the likes of David Bowie and Michael Jackson.
Ashton Kutcher, University of Iowa
Before making a name for himself with films and of course Punk’D, this actor was hitting the books. He started a degree in biochemical engineering in 1997, but soon after, his career took a completely different turn. After being discovered for his looks instead of his smarts, Ashton modeled for Versace and Calvin Klein before breaking into the entertainment industry.
Betsey Johnson, Syracuse University
This eccentric designer started out as an art major before making a statement in the fashion world with her bubbly personality and bold creations. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1976 and went on to show off her distinct and girly wardrobe smarts.
Emma Watson, Brown University
This British actress, best known for playing Hogwarts star student Hermione, decided to take her college education across the pond. She’s starting her second year at the Ivy League school, where she’s majoring in Literature. According to this NBC Los Angeles article [http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/celebrity/Emma-Watson-Making-…, Emma’s first days at college brought awkward party situations and challenges in drama class. She’s expected to graduate with the class of 2013.
Anne Hathaway, Vassar (before transferring to NYU)
Even actresses don’t always make the right college decision the first time around. After studying English and Women’s studies at Vassar, she made the switch to city life in 2005 by transferring to NYU, but she never graduated. She says she plans to complete her degree at some point in her life.
Meryl Streep, Vassar
Long before playing Anne Hathaway’s cruel boss in The Devil Wears Prada, this Jersey girl was a member of Vassar’s class of 1983. After continuing her studies at the Yale School of Drama, she went on to become the Academy Award winner we know today. This year, she revisited her college days as the commencement speaker for Barnard’s class of 2010.
James Franco, UCLA
According to an article from UCLA Magazine Franco was, and still is an academic overachiever. After enrolling back in 1996, this now-famous face dropped out to pursue an acting career. But years later, he came back for a second try, taking between 20 and 62 credits a quarter and keeping an impressive GPA. After graduating with an English degree in 2008, he went on to conquer masters degrees at Columbia University, Brooklyn College and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and he plans to teach classes in the future.
Matt Damon, Harvard University
Back in 1988, this Boston native majored in English, but eventually dropped out when his acting career took off. In 1998, he won an Oscar for his role alongside longtime best friend Ben Affleck in Good Will Huntingwhich was, coincidentally, filmed at Harvard.
Natalie Portman, Harvard
This Israeli-born actress balanced Star Warsand psychology from 2000 to 2003. She reportedly lived on campus with her three roommates and had a difficult time keeping her star-status separate from college life, even though she chose not to act in any other films while working towards her degree.