Skip to main content

Main Area


Where 50 pop stars went to school

  • Where 50 top pop stars went to school

    As one might imagine, the life of a pop star is anything but traditional. Before these talented singers and musicians took the world by storm, they were stuck in a classroom just like everyone else. Well, a few of them were at least. Others dropped out of high school to pursue their dreams and passions at any cost. Some were groomed for success at such a young age that their educational upbringings were as unorthodox as anything else in their day-to-day lives. Private tutors and exclusive performing arts academies are all part of the package when obvious talent is on the table.

    So where did the 50 pop stars go to school? To determine which artists qualified for the list, Stacker went straight to Billboard, which uses a formula that blends weekly performances on the Billboard “Pop Songs chart.” When a band or vocal group made the list, Stacker ranked either the most well-known member, or the member who made it the furthest in their formal education.

    Read on to learn where the top 50 pop stars went to school.

    RELATED: Where U.S. first ladies went to college

  • #50. Nicki Minaj

    Before becoming one of the foremost names in hip-hop, Onika Tanya Maraj—a.k.a Nicki Minaj—was an aspiring thespian at New York City's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Upon graduation, Minaj struggled to maintain her acting career, and pivoted her focus toward music instead. In recent years, footage of Minaj's high school acting skills has surfaced, proving she was clearly committed to the craft.  


  • #49. Sheryl Crow

    Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow graduated from the University of Missouri (also known as Mizzou) in 1984, where she majored in music, performance, and education. Despite her formal training in composition, she later claimed that as a pop songwriter you “basically throw all those rules out.”


  • #48. Ellie Goulding

    The British singer and songwriter behind “Lights” studied drama at the University of Kent for two years before being discovered at a university talent contest. At the advice of her manager, Goulding quickly dropped out to pursue music full-time. The rest is folktronica history.


  • #47. Hootie & The Blowfish

    Hootie & the Blowfish takes its name from two college buddies who met as freshmen at the University of South Carolina in the mid-1980s. The band earned a massive following around campus before taking the world stage in the 1990s. To honor the group on its 25th anniversary, the university erected a 17-foot stainless steel monument in the shape of a guitar pick.

  • #46. OneRepublic

    OneRepublic lead vocalist Ryan Tedder and guitarist Zach Filkins first met at Colorado Springs Christian High School in 1996, where they played on the same soccer team. The two started jamming together that same year, though they would soon part ways to attend different colleges. After graduating from Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma with a degree in public relations and advertising, Tedder moved to Los Angeles, and convinced Filkins to do the same.


  • #45. Ariana Grande

    By the age of 8, Ariana Grande was already singing “The National Anthem” for the Florida Panthers hockey team, so it's no surprise that this pop princess skipped out on a traditional education. At 13, she stopped attending North Broward Preparatory School to star in a Broadway play. However, the school continued to send her lessons, and she graduated in 2012.


  • #44. No Doubt

    After graduating from high school in 1987, singer Gwen Stefani attended Fullerton College and then transferred to California State University, Fullerton. It was during this time she began providing lead vocals for her brother's band, No Doubt. By the mid-1990s, the band was on top of the world.


  • #43. Enrique Iglesias

    Unbeknownst to his famous father, Latin sensation Enrique Iglesias performed original songs in restaurants around Miami when he was in high school. He then attended the University of Miami with the intention of pursuing a business degree. When the lure proved too strong to resist, Iglesias dropped out of college to become a full-time musician.


  • #42. The Weeknd

    Back when he was known as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, musician The Weeknd studied at West Hill Collegiate Institute and Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Toronto. In 2007, he dropped out of high school and took off with his friends, later claiming that he derived his stage name because he “left one weekend and never came back home.” With education still on his mind in 2017, Tesfaye donated $50,000 to help the University of Toronto launch a class on the ancient language Ge'ez, spoken in the Horn of Africa.


  • #41. Boyz II Men

    The members of Boyz II Men met in the mid-1980s when they were students at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (also known as CAPA). Decades later, the group returned to the school to perform a concert, with member Shawn Stockman saying “this is where it all started.” In 2017, the city of Philadelphia established Boyz II Men Boulevard, located just a block away from the school.