Stars Who Never Graduated High School

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No pomp and circumstance here. Whether they dropped out to pursue their careers or just didn’t fit in, check out this list of celebrities who never graduated high school.

Demi Lovato

While the Disney alum has two Grammy nominations, one thing she does not have is a high school diploma. The “Sorry Not Sorry” songstress, in fact, revealed in June 2019 that she “dropped out of middle school” when replying to former Big Time Rush member Logan Henderson’s Instagram post, which was captioned: “Comment your best high school yearbook quote.”

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Katy Perry

Though Perry earned her GED, she isn’t satisfied with the level of education she received before dropping out at 15. She told Yahoo in 2014, “I’m kind of bummed at this stage that I didn’t have a great education … I was being pulled out of school even in the middle of school and sometimes being home-schooled. Sometimes we were sent to these really half-Christian, half-education, I-don’t-know-what-they-were schools.” Thankfully, the pop star said she’s “learned to educate myself at this stage.”

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Simon Cowell

Cowell left school at 16, and he’s confident enough in his decision that he has said his son could do the same if he wanted. “Leave at 16 if you want to work, 100 percent I would encourage him,” the X Factor judge told BBC Radio 2 in 2016. “I don’t understand why you would want to torture someone to be somewhere they don’t want to be but actually want to go out into the real world and make a living.”

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Jennifer Lawrence

The Hunger Games actress revealed to 60 Minutes in 2018 that she dropped out of middle school to become an actress. “I dropped out of middle school. I don’t technically have a GED or a diploma,” the star said. “I am self-educated.” When asked if she regretted the decision, the Oscar winner responded, “No. I really don’t. I wanted to forge my own path. I found what I wanted to do, and I didn’t want anything getting in the way of it.”

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Seth Rogen

Rogen has spoken positively about his decision to drop out of high school in favor of working in the industry. “I worked really hard. It’s not like I dropped out of high school and just did nothing,” Rogen told CNN in 2013. “I dropped out of high school and went and worked on a TV show. We were writing a script all throughout high school. I probably worked harder than most people who were just doing high school stuff, honestly. I did stand-up comedy all throughout high school. I think, honestly, if you have a career in mind that isn’t academically oriented, then high school is probably not going to lead you to what you want to be.”

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Matt Dillon

Dillon was discovered at 14 years old while skipping class. The casting agent gave him a part in Over the Edge, and from there, the actor kept getting work, which kind of interfered with going to school. “I didn’t drop out in the classic sense,” he told The New York Times in the ‘90s. “But I kept getting incompletes constantly because I was on movie sets. Gym! Now how was I going to get my gym credits?”

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Jessica Chastain

In 2015, Chastain admitted a long-kept secret. “Nobody knows this about me — I dropped out of high school,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I was not a hard worker. I was a terrible student.” Because the actress “cut school and [sat] in [her] car, reading Shakespeare,” she had too many absences at the end of the school year to graduate. She did, however, later get an adult diploma.

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Lil Wayne

It was actually Lil Wayne’s mother who made him drop out of school after his star rose. The rapper shared his story with Katie Couric: “I had an album out. I was platinum already, thank God, and I was still trying to go to regular public school.” When his mom saw him putting a gun in his backpack for protection, she decided it would be better for her son to leave school than risk his safety. “It wasn’t two minutes later, she walked back to my room and said, ‘You don’t go to school no more. You’re getting a GED.’”

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Keanu Reeves

Reeves recounted his high school trauma, which ultimately led to him being expelled, to The Daily Mail in 2008. “It was a very small school and I guess I didn’t fit in,” the Matrix actor recalled. “I had conflicts and run-ins with the staff. The principal and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. I was one of those ‘Why?’ kids — I asked too many questions about everything. I couldn’t stop even if it got me into trouble.” Reeves was not pleased with his expulsion either. “It’s a terrible letter to receive, saying you can’t come back to school next year. Getting asked to leave was very upsetting,” he said.

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Jude Law

When Law landed a role in Families at 16 years old, his parents were OK with letting him drop out of school and move to where the show was being filmed. “I can’t believe that now. It was so cool, and trusting of them,” the Fantastic Beasts actor told The Telegraph in 2013.

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Jim Carrey

Carrey was forced to leave school at the age of 16 to help support his family. The Ace Ventura actor was once a “straight-A student,” but as he revealed on Inside the Actor’s Studio, working in a factory made him want to “bash somebody’s head in.” He was eventually able to find an outlet for his frustrations in comedy.

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Jay-Z (born Shawn Carter) empowers students through his scholarship foundation, but the rapper doesn’t have a diploma of his own. “Education is super important,” Jay-Z said in 2011. “I don’t have a high school diploma or a college diploma, but still for me to articulate, I had to have some form of schooling to articulate my thoughts.”

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Hilary Swank

“I’m not proud to say I’m a high school dropout,” Swank told the Today show in 2007. “I’m not proud that that’s something that happened, but it happened.” The Oscar winner often got in trouble at school for talking too much, but she was never hopeless about her future prospects, thanks to her mother.

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Daniel Radcliffe

Harry Potter may have been a top student at Hogwarts, but his portrayer can’t say the same for his educational experience. “I’m kind of sure of myself intellectually. And I know I wouldn’t have been if I had stayed in school because, before I did Potter, my confidence had been more or less destroyed by a couple of teachers. So I had it all restored by the people who taught me on the films,” Radcliffe told Parade in 2009 of dropping out.

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Avril Lavigne

Lavigne’s decision to leave school as a teenager happened practically overnight. Producer L.A. Reid signed her after hearing the artist sing on a trip to New York. “I was supposed to do home-schooling — I had books — but I didn’t do it. So basically, I’m a high school dropout,” Lavigne said on an episode of Private Sessions.

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Al Pacino

Pacino quit school after 10th grade to work, which, as an only child, he needed to do to support his single mom, who suffered from depression. “I wasn’t very good at school,” he told The Washington Post in 2016. “I wasn’t focused on my classes. My mother had problems, and there was no money coming in.” He didn’t begin his acting career for several more years, but Pacino remembers one of his junior high teachers telling his family, “You have to encourage your boy to act.”

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