Gossip & News

11 Famous People Who Decided That College Wasn’t For Them,

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I was today years old when I found out Jake Gyllenhaal dropped out of Columbia.

1. Brad Pitt was studying to become a journalist at the University of Missouri but dropped out TWO WEEKS before graduation.

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Brad explained,  “It just came to the time of graduation and everyone — all my friends were committing to jobs — and I just realized I was not ready for that yet. I packed up my car. I didn’t graduate — I had two weeks left — and I moved out to LA.” 

He decided not to finish the two weeks because “I just felt I was done; I was done with it. I knew where I wanted to go. I had a direction. I always liked those moments of epiphany when you have the next destination.”

2. Shaquille O’Neal has a BA in general studies from Louisiana University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in education from Barry University.

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Originally, Shaq left Louisiana University to play in the NBA but said he returned because, “One, I promised my parents I would [follow my passion for education]. Two, I wanted to continue my education, and three, I wanted to challenge myself.”

3. Mila Kunis attended UCLA shortly, transferred to Loyola Marymount University, and then dropped out.

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Mila was already a series regular on both That ’70s Show and Family Guy during her time in college. She said, “I went to college because I felt like I was supposed to. I graduated from public high school and I did all the things that I was supposed to do.”

She added, “I didn’t fail out. I dropped out. I did not fail. I was actually a pretty good student. My problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted to study. What was I going to go in? Undecided? I took a class on Zionist theory. I took classes that interested me, that weren’t necessarily for a specific degree. Then I realized and spoke to my parents and I said, ‘I do love what I do and I want to pursue it.’ They were like, ‘Oh, why don’t you just drop out?'”

4. Ken Jeong has a BS from Duke University and got his M.D. at the UNC School of Medicine.

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Ken practiced medicine for multiple years while performing stand-up at comedy clubs when he wasn’t working. After his role in Knocked Up, he was able to transition to being a full-time entertainer. 

5. Kristen Bell attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to study musical theater but dropped out a few credits short of her degree to take a role in the Broadway musical version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

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6. Sigourney Weaver has a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from Yale.

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7. Jessica Biel was enrolled in Tufts University in Massachusetts for two years but dropped out to take a role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).

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She stated she wishes she didn’t leave school. “I wish I would have had that time that my girlfriends all had. I wish I would have lived in that crappy, nasty brownstone that they all lived in. If I had to do it again, I would have stuck around and finished it out.”

8. Spike Lee has a BA in mass communication from Morehouse and an MFA in film from NYU Tisch.

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9. Tom Hanks studied theater at Chabot College and transferred to California State University, Sacramento after two years before dropping out to do an internship at Great Lakes Theater Festival.

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10. Eva Longoria got a BS in kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and a master’s in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge.

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11. Madonna received a scholarship to the University of Michigan and studied there for two years before dropping out and moving to New York City to pursue her music career.

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12. Mayim Bialik has a BS in neuroscience and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Mayim got married and had her first son during grad school. She’s said that her studies helped her play Amy, a neuroscientist, on The Big Bang Theory. 

13. Jake Gyllenhaal went to Columbia for about two years to study Eastern religions and philosophy and then dropped out to concentrate on acting.

Taylor Hill / FilmMagic / Getty Imges

His sister, Maggie, was a senior at Columbia when he started, and she finished her degree. Their mother also graduated from Columbia. Jake has said that he wants to eventually return to his studies and obtain his degree.

14. Bridgit Mendler has a degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California and a graduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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She is currently working on her PhD at MIT’s Center for Constructive Communications and Social Machines group.

15. John Mayer was enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, left after two semesters, moved to Atlanta, and started a band called LoFi Masters with his friend, Clay Cook.

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16. Rebel Wilson attended the University of New South Wales and graduated with a BA in theater and performance studies and also a Bachelor of Laws degree.

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Rebel said she decided not to become a politician or lawyer when she had malaria and hallucinated that she won an Oscar. 

17. Lady Gaga got early admission to Collaborative Art Projects 21, a music school at NYU Tisch. She dropped out in the second semester of her second year to pursue her music career.

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18. David Duchovny has a BA in English literature from Princeton University and an MA in English literature from Yale.

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David began working on his PhD but did not finish it. 

19. Ashton Kutcher attended the University of Iowa and majored in biochemical engineering. During that time, he was approached by a model scout at a bar, won the “Fresh Faces of Iowa” modeling competition, and then eventually dropped out and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

Allen Berezovsky / FilmMagic / Getty Images

20. Lupita Nyong’o has a degree in film and theater studies from Hampshire College and a master’s degree in acting from Yale School of Drama.

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21. Alicia Keys had a scholarship to Columbia but dropped out after a month to focus on her music full-time.

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images For The Met Museum/Vogue

22. And Angela Basset has a BA in African American studies from Yale and an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

Phillip Faraone / Getty Images

Who are other celebs who dropped out of college or have multiple degrees? Let us know in the comments!

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