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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at South Carolina chapter.

Whether they got a Ph.D. or dropped out their second year, these celebrities all attended college and studied some surprising subjects.

Emma Watson

College: Brown University

Studied: English

The British actress proved herself a real-life Hermione Granger when she began studying English literature. Unfortunately, college life wasn’t easy for Watson as she struggled for normalcy while often being stalked by super fans or heckled with Harry Potter quotes in class. Even so, she successfully completed school in 2014.

“I love having something completely unrelated to the film industry. I want to find something that will let me use my brain in another way,” Watson stated. “I like connecting people who aren’t part of that world, too.”

Jake Gyllenhaal

College: Columbia University

Studied: Eastern Religions and Philosophy

Gyllenhaal only attended college for two years before dropping out to focus on his film career. His sister, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, also attended Columbia and studied Eastern Religions and Literature.

The actor has revealed he would love to resume his studies, but his busy work schedule doesn’t currently allow him to do so.

Mayim Bialik

College: University of California

Studied: Neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish studies

Bialik not only plays a scientist on The Big Bang Theory but is also one in real life, earning a B.S. and Ph.D. in neuroscience while also embracing her cultural and religious roots with a minor in Hebrew and Jewish studies.

“My husband and I met in college and we had our first son in grad school after we got married,” she explained. “We fell in love with parenting and with being parents, and specifically with me being the primary caregiver. Being a research professor just wasn’t going to be compatible with that. So, the plan was that we would try to take turns teaching and sort of figure it out. And I went back to auditioning. I had never done acting as an adult and I thought, well, maybe I’ll work here and there. I didn’t anticipate that I’d be a regular on a TV show.”

When not acting, she teaches neuroscience in her local homeschool community.

Eddie Redmayne

College: Cambridge University

Studied: Art History

The Fantastic Beasts actor had appeared on stage as a teenager before attending college. After graduating, he gave himself a year to make it as an actor. He soon landed a role in the play The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? for which he won numerous praise and further acting jobs.

Interestingly, while at university he wrote his thesis on a unique shade of Yves Klein blue, despite Redmayne being completely color blind.

“I’m color blind, but I can pick out that blue anywhere,” he told W magazine.

Dakota Fanning

College: New York University

Studied: Women’s Studies

The American actress and model has been attending NYU on and off since 2011 due to her busy work schedule. Fanning’s studies are particularly focused on women’s portrayal in film and culture.

“It’s something I’ve studied and thought about a lot,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “It’s rare to see women in a film who are not somehow validated by a male, or discussing a male, or heartbroken by a male, or end up being happy because of a male. It’s interesting to think about, and it’s very true. Of course, men are a part of women’s lives, and that’s fine, but it’s important to see strong, independent women who are making their own choices and aren’t completely at the mercy of men. It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, does this guy love me?’ It should be, ‘Do I love the guy?’”

Harrison Ford

College: Ripon College

Studied: Philosophy

He might play a college professor in the Indiana Jones series, but in real life, Ford dropped out of college shortly before graduation.

Speaking on a drama class he initially took as an easy grade in college, Ford said, “I was terrified to get up in front of people, but I really enjoyed the storytelling part.”

After failing to start a career in Hollywood, he instead turned to professional carpentry to earn a living, only returning to acting years later through a chance encounter with George Lucas and shortly after rising to fame for his appearance in a galaxy far, far away.

Rebel Wilson

College: University of New South Wales

Studied: Law

The Pitch Perfect actress graduated with a law degree in 2009. Afterward, she decided to pursue acting and moved to America, though her former studies proved valuable as she negotiated many of her contracts.

“A lot of people look at me and think I’m stupid,” she said on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “But no, I graduated from a school that’s kind of like the Harvard of Australia.” 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

College: Columbia University

Studied: History, Literature, French Poetry

Then teen-heartthrob took a break from Hollywood after filming 10 Things I Hate About You to attend college. He dropped out in his fourth year to return to his film career, a decision that was partially inspired by his love of filming and editing projects.

“I taught myself to edit when I was 21. I always wanted to because I always played with my family’s video camera, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that video editing software finally became accessible to anyone with a computer. Once that became accessible to me, I got a copy of Final Cut Pro, and I dropped out of college. Honestly, if there’s one thing that influenced me dropping out of college more than anything it’s when I got Final Cut Pro. I could either be writing a paper for a class or editing this video, and it’s addictive. At least it is for me.”

Natalie Portman

College: Harvard

Studied: Psychology

The Star Wars and Thor actress graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology. Though she would go on to pursue acting, Portman has expressed a preference for education over a film career.

“I’d rather be smart than a movie star,” she stated in 2008.

Ken Jeong

College: University of North Carolina

Studied: Medicine

Ken Jeong, best known for his comedic characters, is actually Doctor Ken Jeong. He received his M.D. in 1995 after being urged by his parents to pursue a stable career. His wife would later encourage him to pursue acting.

His medical knowledge would prove useful when an audience member at his comedy show began to have a seizure. Jeong abandoned the microphone to tend to the woman and remained with her until an ambulance arrived.

Even for celebrities, life doesn’t always turn out the way you’d expect.

Bri Hamlin

South Carolina '19

Hello, it's Bri (to the tune of Adele please). I am a senior at USC Columbia and am not currently thirty, flirty, and thriving, but twenty-one, anxious, and trying will sure do.