From Madonna to Lady Gaga: All of the celebs who dropped out of university and why
I too would drop out if I was offered a multi-million pound acting career
Dropping out of uni is debated by millions of students every year as they sit hungover in a 9am seminar contemplating whether uni is really for them. But what about just straight-up dropping out and trying to become famous? Because that sounds like a 10/10 option to me.
We’ve already gone through all the celebrities who have pointless degrees because they don’t use them now that they’re famous, but what about all the celebs who have dropped out of uni? And why did they do it? Did the fame all get too much? And how much do they earn now?
Here are all your fave celebs who dropped out of uni and why:
When Lady Gaga was 17, she was one of only 20 applicants to receive early admission to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She stayed for a year and lived in halls on campus but ended up dropping out when her music career started taking off. She has an estimated net worth of $320 million.
In the past, Madonna has famously called herself a “famed high school dropout” but she actually dropped out of uni. Madonna studied at The University of Michigan for two years but dropped out in 1977 to move to New York to, again, pursue her music career.
She was accepted the the uni due to her straight-A average in high school and a dance scholarship after being on the cheerleading team. Madonna’s net worth is now over $850 million.
Cardi B originally went to Borough of Manhattan Community College and was planning on becoming a history teacher. But she dropped out in her second term and became an exotic dancer at a bar before eventually growing her social media following which helped to launch her music career. Her net worth is estimated to be around $80 million.
Timothée Chalamet is another celeb who dropped out of uni. He went to Colombia University before transferring to New York University. He eventually dropped out in 2016, the year Call Me by Your Name was filmed, to pursue acting full time. He described the year after he dropped out of uni the scariest of his life and claimed he was being too “presumptuous”. Timmy now has a net worth of around $25 million.
Probably the most dramatic of the lot, Brad Pitt dropped out of uni just two weeks before his final graduation. He actually studied journalism at The University of Missouri and dropped out to move to LA as he said he was “done” with education. He said: “I just felt I was done. I was done with it. I knew where I wanted to go.” Brad Pitt’s net worth is estimated at over $400 million.
Legally Blonde’s Reese Witherspoon briefly studied English literature at Stanford University but she dropped out after a year, at 19, to pursue an acting career. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde was actually originally supposed to attend Stanford but they could’t get permission to film on campus so it was changed to Harvard.
Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres, she said: “Oh, my mom was so mad at me that I dropped out of college because she wanted me to be a doctor, specifically a plastic surgeon. My dad was an ear, nose and throat surgeon, but my mom was just really determined for me to be a plastic surgeon.
“And she was mad about it for probably 10 years, and then I bought her a house so she got over it. At some point it turned into a better deal for Betty.” She is now one of the richest women in America with an estimated net worth of $440 million.
Swifites scroll past this one. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal studied Eastern religion and philosophy at Columbia University. But after his first year he dropped out when he got the lead in October Sky. Jake has said in interviews that he’d like to finish his degree at some point, though. Jake Gyllenhaal’s estimated net worth is around $80 million.
Actor Tom Hanks originally studied theatre at Chabot College in California. He transferred to California State Sacramento after two years but dropped out after being offered an internship at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Ohio. He stayed on this internship for three years and then moved to New York to pursue acting. His net worth is now over $400 million.
Kanye West named his debut album The College Dropout for a reason, apparently! After finishing high school in 1997, Kanye got a scholarship for Chicago’s American Academy of Art and began taking painting classes. Not long after he transferred to Chicago State University to study English.
However, he realised his classes weren’t leaving him time to work on his music so he dropped out of uni to pursue music full time. Kanye’s net worth is around $500 million.
JLO studied business at Baruch College in New York but dropped out after one term because she said her heart wasn’t in it. She became a full-time dancer after dropping out but said the decision put a strain on her relationship with her mum.
She said: “My mom and I butted heads. I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to try dance full-time. So she and I had a break. I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, ‘This is what I have to do.'” Her net worth is estimated to be $400 million.
One of the richest celebs who dropped out of uni, Oprah dropped out in 1975. Presenter Oprah Winfrey dropped out of her communications degree at Tennessee State University with one credit short of finishing the four year course. She left because she received a job offer from a local television station. Now a billionaire, her estimated net worth stands at over $2.8 billion.
Mila Kunis started her acting career super young at 14 when she appeared on That ’70s Show. She was 15 when she began voicing Meg on Family Guy. So later she returned to education and went to The University of California and then Loyola Marymount University.
But in interviews she said she dropped out because she “never went to class.” She said: “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 realised 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.'” Mila Kunis’ net worth now stands at around $75 million.
Ellie Goulding started studying a drama, politics and English degree at The University of Kent but dropped out in 2008 at the end of her second year after struggling to juggle her degree with performing and working two jobs. In 2019, The University of Kent awarded her an honorary degree in 2019, though. In her acceptance speech she said: “Coming back today does complete that circle for me 11 years later, after I packed up my cold little garage room… It feels really good.”
She also apologised to her old drama tutor for dropping out over email, saying: “I’m sorry for that email … It must have been quite out of the blue.” Ellie Goulding’s net worth is now estimated to be $30 million.
Anne Hathaway began studying English at Vassar College in New York but took a semester off to film The Princess Diaries. She then re-enrolled at New York University’s “Gallatin School of Individualised Study” but never finished the course as her acting career got in the way. She now has an estimated net worth of $80 million.