College 101

Rubbing Elbows With the Rich and Famous: 10 Celebrities Who Went to Community College

Private colleges and universities are known for their famous alumni, but did you know that there are many celebrities who have attended or graduated from community college? The California Community College System has 114 colleges, West Hills College Lemoore, West Hills College Coalinga and North District Firebaugh included, making it the largest higher education system in the nation! With such a wide array of certificate and degree programs offered, it’s easy to see why some celebrities have attended community college. Here is a list of 10 notable people who have attended or graduated from a community college.

1. Steve Jobs

In 1970,  Steve Jobs had attended De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California for only two semesters. Before he attended this school, he was studying literature, physics, and poetry at Reed College in Oregon. Although he never finished his schooling, he was still able to find success in his multi-billion-dollar company.

2. Walt Disney

As the pioneer of modern full-length animated films and the creator of the happiest place on Earth, it’s no surprise to us that Walt Disney had attended community college. This iconic figure attended Metropolitan Community College in Missouri. He dropped out of his schooling at the age of 16 to help out during World War 1, but that small amount of education helped shape him into the person we all know and love.

3. James Dean

This 1950s icon had actually wanted to be a lawyer before he found his passion in acting. While attending Santa Monica Community College, he studied pre-law. When he transferred to UCLA, he changed his major to drama and eventually dropped out to start a full-time career in acting.

4. Queen Latifah

Already on her way to stardom, Queen Latifah and her group “Ladies Fresh” – later changed to “Flavor Unit”- had two singles out that sold 40,000 records right after she enrolled to Borough of Manhattan Community College. She was majoring in Broadcasting.

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger

This actor who is famous for his lead role in The Terminator franchise and being the former governor of California, had a literal rags-to-riches story that will inspire many. Fulfilling his dream of living in America after winning the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles several times, he began to take English classes at Santa Monica Community College. He later received a Bachelor’s degree in Business and International Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 1979. He received his U.S. citizenship in 1983.

6. Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman, who has one of the most iconic voices in Hollywood, served in the Air Force as an Engineer before he decided to seriously pursue an acting career. He had worked at and attended Los Angeles City College where he took free singing, dancing, and acting classes. He struggled getting roles during this period of his life and decided to move to Hollywood where he would do nighttime auditions. It wasn’t until his fifties when he got his big break in acting when he got a part in the Broadway play Hello, Dolly!

7. George Lucas

The man who directed notable films such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and American Graffiti, originally wanted to be a motor racer. He had attended Modesto Community College where he was studying Anthropology in the 1960s. He later became interested in cinematography which led to his degree in film from the University of Southern California.

8. Tom Hanks

Known for his roles in Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Cast Away, and Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks attended a community college before pursuing his acting career. He was majoring in theater at Chabot Community College in Hayward, California before transferring to CSU Sacramento and later dropping out after interning for three years at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. It was that experience that started his acting career.

9. Chris Pratt

Whether you know him as the savior of our universe in Guardians of the Galaxy, or the loveable goofball in Parks and Recreation, you should also know him as a community college attendee. With financial struggles in his early adult life, he briefly attended community college until he dropped out and started working at Bubba Gump Shrimp in Hawaii. It was at this chain restaurant where he met Rae Dawn Chong who offered him his first role in the movie Cursed Part 3. The rest is history.

10. Halle Berry

The former Miss Ohio title holder had attended Cuyahoga Community College and majored in broadcast journalism. She later moved to Hollywood where she has amassed an impressive acting career. In 2002, she became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Lead Actress.

It’s amazing to find out how many celebrities and notable people had attended community college. Maybe you’ll be on this list one day. As they say at West Hills College, “once you go here, you can go anywhere!”


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