24 Celebrities Who Dropped Out Of College For Hollywood


Having a college degree is only one of many paths toward success. While higher education is a great thing, it’s not the end all be all of achieving your career goals.

Here are 24 celebs who dropped out of college to pursue their dreams:


Timothée Chalamet majored in cultural anthropology at Columbia for a year before transferring to NYU. However, he has not been seen on campus since 2016, the year he filmed Call Me by Your Name.


Sofía Vergara studied dentistry at the National University of Colombia, but, with only two semesters left, she dropped out to become a TV host.


After being rejected from his first-choice film school, Steven Spielberg enrolled at California State University at Long Beach as a film and video production major. He dropped out with just one paper left to write, but 34 years later, he finished the term paper for Natural Science 492 and walked at graduation.


Ariel Winter enrolled at UCLA while she was still filming Modern Family, but she dropped out after six months because she wasn’t able to make it to most of her classes.


Stevie Nicks only had six months left until graduation when she dropped out of San Jose State to move to Los Angeles with her then-partner/bandmate Lindsey Buckingham. Her parents supported her emotionally but not financially, so she worked three serving jobs and a cleaning job to support herself and Lindsey until they joined Fleetwood Mac.


Eva Mendes studied marketing at California State University, Northridge. However, she was discovered when a talent manager came across her picture while looking through her friend’s portfolio. Eva dropped out of school to study under an acting coach.


Lauryn Hill attended Columbia for a year and a half, but the success of The Fugees’ second album, The Score, influenced her decision to leave.


Jennifer Lopez dropped out of Baruch College after her first semester. She then moved to Manhattan and started performing in regional musical productions.


Alicia Keys got a scholarship to Columbia because she was high school valedictorian, but she dropped out during her first year to sign with, ironically, Columbia Records.


Emmy Rossum was a student at Columbia. However, she left for roles in films like The Phantom of the Opera and Mystic River.


Tom Hanks studied theater at Chabot College in Hayward, CA. After two years, he transferred to Cal State Sacramento but he dropped out when he was offered an internship with the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, OH.


Anna Paquin was already an Academy Award winner when she enrolled at Columbia. After only a year, she dropped out so that she could continue acting.


When Quincy Jones was 18, he was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. However, he left the school when bandleader Lionel Hampton invited him to go on the road with him.


Ben Platt was briefly a student at Columbia’s School of General Studies, but he left when he was cast in The Book of Mormon on Broadway.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt studied French, literature, and history at Columbia, where he lived in the same dorm building as his 10 Things I Hate About You costar/ex-girlfriend Julia Stiles. However, he dropped out after teaching himself video editing with Final Cut Pro.


When Lady Gaga was 17, she was one of only 20 applicants to receive early admission to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. However, she left the school to pursue her pop music career.


Jake Gyllenhaal studied Eastern religion and philosophy at Columbia, but he dropped out when he got the lead in October Sky.


Anne Hathaway studied English at Vassar for a year before taking a semester off to film The Princess Diaries. She later enrolled at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, but she never finished her program.


Cardi B enrolled in a Manhattan community college and planned to become a history teacher. However, after two semesters, she dropped out. She began working as a stripper and briefly returned to school. Eventually, she grew her social media following, which helped launch her career in reality TV and rap.


Ashton Kutcher studied biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa and spent his summers sweeping cereal dust at the General Mills factory to help pay for school. However, he dropped out after winning the “Fresh Faces of Iowa” modeling contest.


When Matt Damon was an English major at Harvard, he frequently skipped class for auditions. He dropped out with only 12 credits and one semester left before graduation because he landed a role in Geronimo: An American Legend. However, he snuck into the graduation ceremony that year.


Vin Diesel studied English at Hunter College, but he dropped out after three years to pursue acting. Nearly 30 years later, the school awarded him an honorary doctorate.


Reese Witherspoon briefly studied at Stanford before dropping out to pursue acting. Initially, her Legally Blonde character Elle Woods was also supposed to be a Stanford student, but the university wouldn’t let them film on campus. So, the movie was shot at Harvard instead.


And finally, Ashley Judd studied French at the University of Kentucky, but, with only one class left, she dropped out to pursue acting. However, she returned to finish her degree 17 years later.

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