20 Celebrities Who Dropped Out of College to Pursue Their Dreams (PHOTOS)

While some celebrities like Natalie Portman and Emma Watson have impressed us with their commitment to their education — all while maintaining busy schedules due to their film careers — not everyone in Hollywood has a college degree. But that doesn't mean that most of your favorite actors and singers didn't at least attempt higher education before ultimately dropping out for an assortment of reasons.

These 20 celebrities show that college dropouts can definitely be successful.


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  • Ellen Degeneres


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    This funny lady dropped out the University of New Orleans, but it wasn't to immediately find success. She first became a clerk at her cousin's law firm and worked an assortment of odd jobs before becoming the recognized phenomenon that she is today.

  • Mark Zuckerberg


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    If you're seen The Social Network, you know that the creator of Facebook infamously dropped out of Harvard to fully pursue the development of the social media site. But he's not unusual—other tech geniuses like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak also cut their educations short.

  • Mila Kunis


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    This actress briefly attended UCLA while also filming That 70's Show, but eventually dropped out after finding it difficult to work while also going to school.

  • Ben Affleck


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    College just wasn't in the cards for this movie star. He left the University of Vermont after just one semester and then dropped out of Occidental College to fully pursue acting.

    More from The Stir: 20 Celebrities Who Graduated From Ivy League Schools (PHOTOS)

  • Oprah Winfrey


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    College isn't necessary for success, as this mogul proves. Oprah Winfrey dropped out of Tennessee State University one credit short, because she was already booking broadcast gigs.

  • Tom Hanks


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    Although we know him best for his on-screen roles, this actor left Sacramento State to do behind-the-scenes work as a full-time intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Bill Gates


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    After two years at Harvard, Bill Gates dropped out to found Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. The university has since given him an honorary doctorate.

  • John Mayer


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    Although this singer was studying music at the Berklee College of Music, he eventually dropped out to pursue his dreams on his own terms.

    More from The Stir: 10 Oddest Celebrity College Majors 

  • Brad Pitt


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    This award-winning actor almost didn't become a movie star—he was poised to become a journalist and graduate from the University of Missouri when just two weeks before graduation, he packed up and moved to LA.

  • Lady Gaga


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    It's no surprise that this pop star was a student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. But eventually she dropped out to focus entirely on her career.

  • Jessica Biel


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    This actress was a student at Tufts University, but left after a year-and-a-half when she started getting more and more acting jobs.

  • Bill Murray


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    Funny man Murray was a pre-med student at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He dropped out, and became a part of The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago.

    More from The Stir: Do You Think Celebs Should Get Honorary Degrees?

  • Ashton Kutcher


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    In 1996, this actor enrolled in the Univerity of Iowa to study biochemical engineering—but after being discovered by a talent scout the next year, he dropped out to pursue modeling and acting.

  • Anne Hathaway


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    This Les Miserables actress attended both Vassar College and NYU for a time, but didn't get a degree from either.

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt


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    Although this actor has had a career since his childhood, he took two years off to study history, French, and literature at the School of General Studies at Columbia University.

  • Zooey Deschanel


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    The (500) Days of Summer actress dropped out of Northwestern University shortly after enrolling to fully pursue her dream of acting.

    More from The Stir: 16 Celebrity High School Dropouts Who Made It Big (PHOTOS)

  • Alicia Keys


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    This Grammy-winning singer enrolled at Columbia University—before dropping out to sign with Columbia Records.

  • Kanye West


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    This rapper and fashion designer attended both the American Academy of Art and Chicago State University before ultimately dropping out—and releasing his hit album, The College Dropout.

  • Ben Stiller


    Image via David Acosta/Celebrity Monitor/Splash News

    This Zoolander actor went to film school in UCLA for nine months, but ultimately dropped out to pursue acting in his native New York City.


  • Amanda Seyfried


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    Mean Girls actress Amanda Seyfried is rumored to have walked out of Fordham University on her first day of classes.

    More from The Stir: 21 Celebrities Who Were Once Cheerleaders (PHOTOS)


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