It’s hard to believe sometimes, but there was a time for each of our country’s greatest pop stars when they were just like you and I come the beginning of September—buying their back-to-school supplies, picking out their first day outfits, bitching about getting stuck with Mrs. Schwarzwald for homeroom (again!) But unlike many of us, who had nothing better to do than to stick around for all four years of high school (and then possibly go to dumb ol’ college after that), these future celebrities always knew they were ticketed for bigger and better things—and many of them left school ahead of schedule to go prove it.
So feel free to stack your level of education up against these 15 pop stars, and see if there isn’t at least one life achievement you have to lord over them. In the cases where the artists didn’t quite make it to college—which is the great majority of them—we’ve picked a university that we think would have matched well to their personality and skill set. It’s never too late to go back, you know.
Last Grade Physically Attended: 10th grade at Hendersonville High School in Hendersonville, TN.
After That: Tutored until graduation, then Fearless, which earned her four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
College We’d Have Her Apply To: Vassar College. A small, liberal arts institution with a scenic backdrop of the Hudson River. Here Swift could focus on her writing under the close eye of English department professors, with absolutely no cheerleaders in sight.
Last Grade Physically Attended: 9th grade at McMain Magnet Secondary School in New Orleans, LA.
After That: Weezy dropped out and teamed up with the New Orleans group the Hot Boys at age 15, then was quickly featured on singles by pal Juvenile, before ultimately releasing his own solo album The Block Is Hot at 17. We’re sure you’ve met Mr. Carter by now.
College We’d Have ‘Em Apply To: Louisiana State University, to let his sports flag fly free. Since he got good grades at McMain, we’d expect nothing less than an enrollment in the LSU Honors College, numerous big-time sporting events be damned.
Latest Grade Physically Attended: Graduated 12th grade from Preston High School in the Bronx, New York.
After That: Split time working at a law firm and trying to kick off her dancing career.
College We’d Have Her Apply To: Fordham. We’d never have her leave the Bronx if she didn’t have to.
Last Grade Physically Attended: 9th grade at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA.
After That: A brief foray into Christian music, before introducing herself to the world as a lover of all things candy colored. Eventually, Perry got her GED as well, and even returned to her old school to tell the boy she had a crush on freshman year to fuck off.
College We’d Have Her Apply To: Scripps College. As a member of the Claremont Colleges, the all-girls school works well with Perry’s proclivity for girl on girl shock value. Plus, despite their small size and high U.S. News & World Report ranking, the adjoining campuses (Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer) are known to have a very wild social life, allowing Perry to have a “Last Friday Night” style party every single weekend.
Latest Grade Physically Attended: Graduated from 12th grade at President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.
After That: Moved to LA to start get his music career started.
College We’d Have Him Apply To: Vassar. Bruno’s proclivity for wearing sunglasses and hats of questionable character would allow him to fit right in at the NY liberal arts school.
Last Grade Physically Attended: 9th grade at North Allegheny High School in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA.
After That: Was home-schooled until graduation, away from the wrath of her jealous classmates, then onto TRL stardom.
College We’d Have Her Apply To: Julliard. We don’t exactly see Xtina settling down as a PolySci major anywhere.
Last Grade Physically Attended: 9th grade at Lincoln High School in Warren, MI.
After That: Dropped out after flunking his freshman year three times, then was jerked around by record labels while starting a partnership with Royce da 5’9,” before he was swooped up by the Good Doctor himself.
College We’d Have Him Apply To: While we’re partial to keep Em close to his Motor City roots, we have a feeling some time in the relaxing setting of Hawaii could do wonders for his temperament and piece of mind. Nothing like a little Vitamin D to get the next few albums started.
Last Grade Physically Attended: Graduated 12th grade at North Springs Charter School of Arts and Sciences in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
After That: Released multi-platinum breakout album My Way, shot to superstardom.
College We’d Have Him Apply To: Texas. One of pop music’s pre-eminent Big Men on Campus, Ush deserves one of the biggest campuses in the country to preside over.
For lots more info on the school days of your favorite pop stars, from Drake to Lady Gaga, click NEXT.