20 Surprising Celebs With Ivy League Educations

    guess who

    by gabriel bell · February 02, 2016

    Photos by Pascal Le Segretain, Angela Weiss, Jason Merritt and Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

    Often as hardworking and intelligent as they are well connected, Ivy Leaguers tend to scoop up the choicest spots in the business, legal, and political worlds, whether it’s fair or not (and it’s totally not fair). Hell, there’s been one Ivy League-educated president or another in the White House for the last 22 years straight.

    But one might think that maybe in the more fickle, more random world of entertainment—where one can win the highest honors without even graduating high school—we would be free of all those overachievers who went to Brown, Yale, and the many other fine schools in the League. One might think that, but one would be wrong.

    Hollywood is just as full of Harvard grads and Columbia alumni as any Fortune 500 company or senate oversight committee. Just check out this list of stars who are all up in your media flexing their big, impressive brains for proof and try not to get miffed that you’re still technically on Yale’s waitlist…technically.

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    Photo Pascal by Le Segretain/Getty Images.

    Emma Watson, Brown
    Legend has it that several Ivys—Harvard, Yale, etc.—were in a bit of a bidding war to get the Hogwarts graduate on campus. Watson surprised them all by picking Brown, perhaps because of its lower profile and slightly more remote location, perhaps because it has better food options in the cafeteria. We’ll never know.

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    Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

    Anna Paquin, Columbia
    Oscar winner Anna Paquin gave non-celebrity life a try when she enrolled at Columbia. Much like Danes, it wasn’t the perfect fit and she shifted back to acting where, what do you know, she found her life partner. It’s proof that, while Ivy League education is 100 percent worth it, it doesn’t always offer everything to everyone.

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    Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images.

    Jenny Slate, Columbia
    It must have been an interesting time when Jenny Slate went to Columbia for not only was she an unknown comic just trying to make her morning classes, but she was surrounded by the likes of already established performers including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Stiles, Anna Paquin (as mentioned before), and Max Minghella. Can we say it was a double education? Yes, we can. We just did.

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    Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images.

    Mindy Kaling, Dartmouth
    A writer and producer as well as a fine, funny actor, there’s little surprise that Mindy Kaling has an Ivy League degree. Yes, Dartmouth counts. Don’t be a snob.

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    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

    Meryl Streep, Yale School of Drama
    Now, Vassar has the right to claim Streep as their own—that’s where she got her BA after all. But would Streep be the Streep we know, love, and give all those shiny statues to without her time at Yale’s School of Drama? Hmmm. Dunno. Probs not.

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    Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

    Connie Britton, Dartmouth
    This one was a surprise to us, too. No, we weren’t shocked that Britton is smart enough to earn herself (and her perfect hair) a slot at such a fine school, but that she got her BA in Chinese studies and actually roomed with rising U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during their summer abroad in Beijing. Kind of reminds us of how Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones were roomies at Harvard…but that is another story for another time.

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    Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images.

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Columbia
    As hinted at before, after 3rd Rock From The Sun, former child star Gordon-Levitt rolled up his sleeves and studied at Columbia while doing movies during his summer breaks. Our insiders say he got from one end of school to the other without being spoiled at all, which isn’t surprising when you think of it.

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    Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

    James Franco, Yale, Columbia, etc.
    James Franco got an MFA from Columbia, but why should he have been satisfied taking classes at merely one Ivy League school? Pfft. This is Franco we’re talking about here, so of course he also studied at Yale (as a Ph.D. student in literature). Oh, and that’s after he finished his bachelors from UCLA and studied film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Hell, we expect that by the time we’ve finished writing this sentence he will have enrolled for an MBA at Wharton and decided to take Women’s Studies classes at Brown. Watch out for it, people.

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    Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

    Tyra Banks, Harvard
    Now, despite what you may have heard, Tyra does not have a full-on Harvard degree. Rather, the model/host/cultural treasure took MBA classes at the business school as a non-matriculated student. Still impressive, no?

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    Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Columbia
    Like his sister Maggie, child actor Jake Gyllenhaal gave Columbia a try. Unlike his sister, he didn’t finish his four years. There’s no shame in that, though. Columbia has a long, storied list of people who studied and didn’t get a degree including fellow actor Anna Paquin and cultural luminary Jack Kerouac. Good company.

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    Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

    Lupita Nyong’o, Yale
    Much like fellow actor Meryl Streep, Nyong’o headed to the Yale School of Drama after getting her BA. Also much like Streep, she parlayed that graduate work into one of those fancy, little gold men all movie stars covet. Funny how that worked out.

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    Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

    Elizabeth Banks, University of Pennsylvania
    Yep, it was U Penn for Banks, who not only walked away with a degree, but graduated magna cum laude! Bully for you! Also, she was a sorority sister over at Delta Delta Delta. No word on whether she was in an acapella club, though.

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    Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images.

    Rashida Jones, Harvard
    The child of legendary producer Quincy Jones and actor Peggy Lipton, Rashia Jones is funny, charming, down-to-earth, and, from all appearances, very, very chill—which is weird because she also went to Harvard. Confusing, right?

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    Matt Damon, Harvard
    Not only did Matt Damon write and star in a movie about a blue-collar math prodigy who got into Harvard by way of janitorial work (Good Will Hunting), he also studied there. He never, however, solved an impossible theorem or ditched the perfect job offer to go live with Minnie Driver. Is that art imitating life or false advertising? You tell us.

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    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

    Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth
    Remember we said this is a list of people who were all up in your media flexing their big, impressive brains? Perhaps that applies to no person better than super producer and Dartmouth grad Shonda Rhimes.

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    Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

    John Krasinski, Brown
    Not only did Krasinski—the fictional boyfriend of many, many people out there—study at Brown, but his concentration was actually playwriting, not acting. Interesting, yes? Of course, he did do sketch comedy in his off hours, thus preparing him for the Office. Extracurriculars are important, friends.

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    Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

    Natalie Portman, Harvard
    Yes, yes, on top on an Oscar and a husband with a ballet body, Natalie Portman has a Harvard degree hanging on her wall—one that’s served her well in creating her various producing and humanitarian projects.

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    Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

    Ellie Kemper, Princeton
    Isn’t odd how Ellie Kemper is noted for playing less-than-urbane, distinctly undereducated (if sweet) characters on The Office and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, yet went to the most academically demanding of the eight Ivys? It is odd, isn’t it?

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    Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

    Claire Danes, Yale
    Just like Anna Paquin, after My So-Called Life, Danes actually tried to live as, you know, the normal, smart young woman she was so used to playing and went to Yale. Just like Paquin, for one reason or another, it didn’t stick and, just like Paquin she found her bliss (and her husband) back in the acting world. Dropping out isn’t always a bad thing.

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    Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images.

    Donald Trump, The University of Pennsylvania
    Welp, even the Ivy League gets it wrong sometimes.

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