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Online Education: From Spielberg to Shaq

Home > Articles > General > From Spielberg to Shaq: 8 Celebrities Who Used Online and Distance Learning Programs

They've got fame, money and accolades, so why would celebrities bother with a college education? Plenty of celebs graduated from college before they became famous, but others decide to hit the books after they've experienced life in the public eye. And like many of us, celebrities have busy work schedules and families to juggle--schlepping to class every day just wouldn't cut it. The flexibility of distance and online college programs offered the perfect solution.

8 celebrities who used online learning and distance learning programs

These celebrities have used distance, extension and online classes to further their educations and expand their horizons.

  1. James Franco. Former UCLA dropout and Oscar nominee James Franco is now a Ph.D. student in English. Along with his graduate studies, he's managed to keep up with his showbiz career, even earning an Oscar nomination. Franco dropped out of UCLA as an undergrad but went back later to finish, starting with extension classes. UCLA's extension program offers online, evening, weekend and day courses.
  2. Shaquille O'Neal. Shaquille O'Neal attended Louisiana State University before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA draft. When he left school, he promised his mother he'd finish his bachelor's degree. He kept that promise and went even further by earning an MBA online. Shaq said his degree solidifies his role as a businessman: In addition to his endorsement deals, Shaq has two lines of low-cost sneakers and a real estate development company.
  3. Hilary Duff. Teen queen Hilary Duff was so excited about enrolling in online classes with Harvard University's Extension School, she gushed about being a Harvard student on her blog. Harvard undergrads, eager to maintain a distinction from the open-to-all Extension School and the rest of the university, blasted her in the student paper. Duff didn't let the criticism deter her, and neither did her sister, Haylie, who also enrolled in the program.
  4. Lisa Leslie. Leslie will forever be known as the first woman to dunk a basketball in the WNBA, and she's also worked as a professional model. Leslie earned her master's degree online after graduating with a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Southern California.
  5. Stephen Spielberg. Spielberg began his studies at California State University Long Beach in 1965, but left to pursue other opportunities. Smart move, but he returned to finish his degree in 2001 because he wanted to demonstrate his regard for higher education. He received his Bachelor of Arts in film and electronic arts through independent and directed study.
  6. Lil Wayne. The rapper Lil Wayne joined record label Cash Money Records at the age of nine, but although he rose to fame, he made sure to finish his GED and attend the University of Houston. He's been continuing his studies through online classes.
  7. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The example of California's former "Governator" reminds us that before there was online learning, there were correspondence classes, which is how he earned his degree from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a major in international marketing and business administration.
  8. Christina Brown. Brown is an Emmy-award winning journalist and decorated Air Force veteran, but she's the most proud of earning her bachelor's degree. Because broadcasters move to where the jobs are, she decided to choose an online college so that no matter where her career took her, she'd be able to finish her degree.

                  Celebs like Shaq, Stephen Spielberg and others didn't need to return to school for the money, yet they still put the hard work into getting their degrees, showing that no matter who you are, an education is a great investment in you.