It has become an urban legend of sorts. The story repeated across campuses, recounted in living rooms, and posted on your Facebook page. The setting often changes, sometimes it is a chemistry class, other times economics, but the basic facts remain the same. Emma Watson is sitting in class and raises her hand to answer a question. Shortly after she receives a nod of approval from her professor, a student in the back calls out, “10 points for Gryffindor!”
We do not actually know if this story is true, but with Watson’s recent announcement that she will be leaving Brown University for a semester to study English at Oxford University, one can only imagine that the star’s time at the school previously was less than magical.
Although celebrities get to enjoy many things that us common folk will never get close to, his or her place under the spotlight often inhibits him or her from experiencing things that we do. A young celebrity has an especially difficult time trying to reconcile his or her life on the red carpet with the one he or she leaves behind closed doors. They often forgo the ways of public or private education, and opt for an onset tutor. When they reach a certain age, many attempt to get a glimpse of the normal life that might have been, and pack their things up and head to college. “I think it’s good that they actually want to get an education in whatever they’re interested in,” Aminah Ibrahim, a Syracuse University sophomore television-radio-film major said.
New experiences can be uncomfortable enough, but how do young celebrities fare with their classmates whispering and pointing at them on the quad? “I think that it’s pointless for them because it’s probably incredibly difficult for anyone to respect what they say. Think of how many celebrities join political campaigns, I mean, I don’t respect what they have to say,” Emma V., a Syracuse University sophomore international relations major said.
There are a few success stories. Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard College with a degree in psychology after several years as a successful child star. Academy Award winner Anna Paquin studied at Columbia University. But for every Natalie Portman, there are plenty of Olsen twins, who rumor has it rarely showed up for class at New York University, before dropping out in 2005. Others try university out for a few years before ultimately leaving to return to the careers they left behind. Jessica Biel lasted two years at Tufts University and Joseph Gordon-Levitt left Columbia University without a degree.
Young celebrities have the comfort of financial stability. Unlike most of us, they are not worrying about entering the job market after they graduate. College for them is something different entirely. Joseph Gordon-Levitt studied French poetry, history, and literature at Columbia University. Of course there are people enrolled in these majors with the hope of pursuing careers in these fields, but something tells me that Levitt will not be trying to join the ranks of Baudelaire or Rimbaud anytime soon.
Dakota Fanning recently joined the ranks of the countless young celebrities that have dashed through Washington Square Park on the way to class at New York University. Like the Olsen twins, Fanning chose to forgo the comforts of Brittany and Goddard Hall in favor of a swanky loft in Nolita. However, distinct from Mary-Kate and Ashley, Fanning was a cheerleader and homecoming queen at her public high school. She had a semblance of a non-charmed life. The young starlet appears to have her head on her shoulders, despite the many years it was exposed to the flashing lights of the paparazzi.
The social obstacles that celebrities often encounter at college are a sign of our society’s obsession with fame. We all have a curiosity about what it is like to live the good life, but that should not impede on a person’s right to live his or her life. When a celebrity lies in bed at night, recounting a classmate’s ridicule, not even money will be able to cushion the blow.
Video courtesy VPHudgensEfron
Photo by NJ.com