It’s true: Many of the successful actors and musicians that we admire ditched their college programs (or didn’t go altogether). But there are plenty of stars who have diplomas — in fact, some of them decided to hit the books after they already hit it big. Here’s a look at 10 celebrities who graduated from college and what they could be doing if they weren’t busy entertaining us.
James Franco: The 33-year-old actor is known for his on-screen roles in movies like Spider-Man and 127 Hours. But he might also be trying to set the record for attending the most colleges in the span of five years. Franco first attended the University of California – Los Angeles back in 1996, but dropped out to pursue a career as an actor. He ended up landing starring roles in films like James Dean and The Great Raid before he returned to UCLA to complete an English degree a decade later. According to UCLA Magazine, the actor took between 20 to 62 credits — per quarter — throughout his time there.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English, Franco studied simultaneously at Columbia University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He also studied poetry at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. And that’s not all — Franco’s been accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Houston and plans to enroll in 2012. Either Franco has a clone we don’t know about or he simply doesn’t sleep.
Eva Longoria: The Desperate Housewives star may live in fictitious Wisteria Lane on the small screen, but Longoria actually hails from Texas (where she also attended college). The Golden Globe-nominated actress studied kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and received a bachelor of science degree from the institution.
Natalie Portman: Like Franco, Portman decided to go to college after she had already appeared on the big screen. The Oscar-winning actress studied at Harvard University and graduated from the prestigious school in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The Black Swan star took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem the following year. One thing is for sure — her Swan character could certainly use a psychologist.
Darren Criss: Glee’s Criss had already made a name for himself before he even graduated from the University of Michigan. The actor founded a theater company with some of his peers, and together they created A Very Potter Musical (a parody of the Harry Potter novels). Criss played the title role in the play, which has garnered millions of views on YouTube and was named one of the best viral videos of 2009 by Entertainment Weekly. The 24-year-old performer will be returning to his theater roots when he takes over the lead role in the Broadway production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Carrie Underwood: This American Idol alum could be the next Barbara Walters — Underwood studied mass communications and journalism at Northeastern State University. The country singer was about to complete a bachelor of arts degree when she withdrew from college to join the popular reality show. But once the competition was over, Underwood returned to Northeastern and graduated in 2006.
Bradley Cooper: Did you know that Cooper speaks French fluently? The 36-year-old actor learned to speak the language while he studied at Georgetown University. He also went to Aix-en-Provence for six months through an exchange program. Cooper first enrolled at Villanova University but eventually transferred to Georgetown, where he graduated with honors in 1997. The actor also earned an MFA at The Actors Studio Drama School (the institution that hosts Bravo’s Inside The Actors Studio). Cooper became the first graduate from the drama school to be featured on the program.
Rashida Jones: The Parks and Recreation actress is also a Harvard grad. Jones was involved with the arts community at the university, having performed many times at the Loeb Drama Center. She also seems to have inherited the musical talents of her father, Grammy-winning producer Quincy Jones — the 35-year-old actress wrote a couple of scores for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals while she studied at Harvard.
John Krasinski: After teaching English in Costa Rica, Krasinski studied playwriting at Brown University. He graduated with honors and decided to try his luck at acting once he’d completed his degree. Krasinski had his big break in NBC’s The Office, but he took up writing once again in 2009 with the film Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
Maggie Gyllenhaal: Jake Gyllenhaal’s big sis studied literature at Columbia University and graduated in 1999. Uma Thurman’s father, Robert Thurman, was one of the professors who taught the Oscar-nominated actress.
Mike Posner: The Cooler Than Me singer is one of the most recent grads on this list. Posner graduated from Duke University in 2010 with a degree in sociology and a 3.59 GPA. He started making music while he was still in college and released A Matter of Time in 2009. The mixtape topped the iTunes U charts that same year.
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