It can be incredibly easy to look at celebrities, and think that they must have always had it so easy. They’re not only usually very beautiful, but often wealthy and getting paid to pursue their passions. This can be an even harder pill to swallow if you’re a current student. I know all too well what it feels like to be struggling to get through finals, while also making sure that you are getting your required hours of Netflix binging in a day. As you sit there and watch yet another season of The Office, you may even start to wonder why you’re even in school…
Though even if acting may seem like a profession that is easy to get into or requires very little schooling, some of your favorite celebrities were not only fellow students, but they attended some of the best universities in the United States.
There are 8 Ivy League schools in America, and almost all of them have been attended by at least one person on this list. Everyone may know about certain celebrities, like Natalie Portman and Conan O’Brien, who both attended Harvard, but do you know where Bill Nye went to school? How are you supposed to know you can trust his science knowledge, if you don’t even know what he studied!
These are 10 of the most shocking celebrities to have attended Ivy League schools. You’ll also learn a little more about some of their respective majors, the impact of their education and, by the end of it, perhaps gain some further respect for some of the biggest faces in society.
10. Meryl Streep – Yale
When it comes to being amazing at your job, Meryl Streep makes it look easy. An accredited actor for decades, it can be hard to imagine that there was a time where she was just an undergraduate. Yet she was, and it just happened to be at Yale.
While at Yale, she appeared in over a dozen stage productions in a year. This caused her to develop ulcers, leading to her to seriously consider stopping acting. Thankfully, she was able to persevere and received her MFA from Yale in 1975.
She also has an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
9. Jake Gyllenhaal – Columbia
Jake Gyllenhaal may be a tremendous actor, but the same may not be able to be said about his studies.
Gyllenhaal is clearly smart. While attending Columbia, he studied Eastern Religions and Philosophy. Despite the fact that these are clearly captivating topics, he decided to drop out after only two years to pursue his career in acting. His first lead role, in the film October Sky, came out within two years of stopping his education. I suppose sometimes it’s a smart decision to stop going to school.
8. Emma Watson – Brown
When it comes to Emma Watson, she would have been aware at a very young age that she was going to be something special. Cast in the Harry Potter series, it was a pretty sure thing that she was going to be acting for at the very least as long as the series.
Instead of just focusing on just acting, she clearly made school a priority, landing herself a spot at Brown University. She studied there, as well as at Oxford from 2011 to 2014 and achieved her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Brown in 2014.
There is no telling if she had any magical spells up her sleeve, but there is no way to make that degree disappear.
7. Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is incredibly talented when it comes to several different areas of films and television. She’s been a producer, director, actor, and has written several scripts, including some of the best episodes of The Office, in which she also starred. Perhaps her dedication to her craft was forged by her time that she spent at the prestigious Dartmouth College.
During her time at the school, Kaling was a part of the improv group, “The Dog Day Players”, and was an active writer for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, which was the school’s humor magazine.
She graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in playwriting.
6. James Franco – Yale
James Franco may not be afraid to explore his inner stoner on screen, but the real life guy is far from a slacker.
Franco has attended several universities, and has even taught a class at NYU, which focused on filmmaking and production. Franco’s biggest claim to fame in the classroom may be the fact that he is a PhD student at Yale University. Franco also attended graduate school at Columbia University, studying in their writing program.
When asked about how he is able to stay motivated at school when he has so many other areas to focus on, Franco reiterated how much he loves studying and that his education is purely sticking to things he loves, which makes it a lot easier when trying to further educate yourself.
5. Bill Nye – Cornell
There is no doubt that Bill Nye is a smart guy. Given that he was responsible for most of my science education growing up, I’m incredibly grateful to learn that he is indeed, super smart.
Bill studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University, graduating with a B.S in 1977. Perhaps the most inspiring moment of his education though, came when he signed up for an astronomy class that was taught by Carl Sagan. Nye has also received honorary doctorates from several fantastic universities, included Johns Hopkins University.
He was also rewarded with an honorary doctorate of science from Simon Fraser University in 2015, which just happens to be my alma mater! At least, there’s my opening for whenever I meet him, which is great because, before this, I was just going to sing the theme song from his show.
4. John Krasinski – Brown
Do you think it is easy to have the camera pan to you and have to drop the classic ‘Jim’ faces throughout the series of The Office? Krasinski clearly put in some work to perfect the character, and perhaps he learned that during his time at Brown University.
Like his fellow co-star Mindy Kaling, Krasinski was a member of a comedy group during his undergrad at Brown. He graduated in 2001 as a playwright.
If you think Mindy and John are the only cast members from The Office to attend an Ivy league school, you’d be wrong. BJ Novak, who was also an executive producer, writer, and director attended Harvard. Boom, bonus name!
3. Maury – University of Pennsylvania
How much education does it take to look at a card and read out, “You are not the father”? While it seems simple, don’t discredit yourself by thinking that the man himself, Maury Povich, is any slouch when it comes to education. Maury attended the University of Pennsylvania in 1962, attaining a degree in television journalism. After graduation, Maury was able to land a gig working as a reporter for a radio station in Washington, D.C.
Something tells me his day job is also centered around television journalism (kind of), so at least you know he’s putting his degree to good work.
2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Columbia
When it comes to the biggest heartthrobs in Hollywood, JGL is as appealing as any other male out there. There is no shortage of reasons why: his hilarious films, his action films, or the fact that he seems like such a nice guy.
When JGL was in the midst of his acting career (remember, he started at a young age), he decided that he wanted to instead focus on his education. He attended Columbia University and studied history, French poetry and literature. While he did not end up completing his degree, he stated that he dropped out of school to focus on acting. Given that it worked out pretty well for him, we’re glad he didn’t spend any further time in a lecture hall.
1. Donald Trump – University of Pennsylvania
There might not be a more Googled name right now than Donald Trump. A search for his name on Google leads to over 350 million results, with everyone weighing in on their thoughts on The Donald.
One area that nobody can attack him for is his former education, as Trump attended the University Of Pennsylvania, where he entered into their Wharton School Of Business. Trump used his educational background to land a job at his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son.
Trump has gone on the record stating that at the time of his graduation, he would have been worth the equivalent of $1,021,000. Good luck getting this guy to understand the pains that students are going through.