Lil Wayne, Shakira and the biggest boffins in pop
Alma mater: University College London.
Degree: Ancient world studies (first-class honours in Greek and Latin), 1998.
Martin’s university years saw little evidence of him blowing his grant on booze and leaping around to Come On Eileen. Instead he captained the hockey second team, considered forming an ‘N Sync-style boyband called Pectoral and founded Coldplay. Leaving with first-class honours in Greek and Latin, he’s put such smarty-pantness to good use: behaving all egg-headed with Brian Eno and befuddling record buyers with abstruse album titles such as Mylo Xyloto.
Alma mater: University of Miami
Degree: BA in psychology with minor in French, 1978.
Long before she became a conga-chugging, frizzy-haired Latin chanteuse, Estefan graduated summa cum laude (US academia-speak for “first”) with a psychology degree from the University of Miami where she “couldn’t separate myself from the patients”. According to the singer, she was then set to follow in the footsteps of Barthes and Balzac by studying at the Sorbonne and was also approached by the CIA to become a spy. Instead, she opted for a pop career and videos featuring boomboxes being surgically extracted from her body (see Dr Beat).
Alma mater: University of California.
Course: An Introduction to Western Civilisation: Ancient Civilisations from Prehistory to Circa AD 843.
Having been thrust into showbiz as a 13-year-old, Shakira had little time for academic proclivities while growing up. But in summer 2007, she enlisted as “Isabelle” on a six-week course at the University of California, dressing like a boy in order to avoid being recognised. Her savant spurs don’t end there: she’s fluent in Spanish, English, Arabic and Portuguese, plus has a reputed IQ of over 140.
Alma mater: University of Pennsylvania.
Degree: BA in English, 1999.
Nicknamed “Doogie Howser” by his schoolmates, spelling-bee champ Legend was offered places at Harvard and Georgetown. He chose Pennsylvania (still an Ivy League institution) instead, where fraternal high jinks included presiding over an a cappella group (one highlight was a version of Joan Osborne’s One Of Us) and being a member of the secret Sphinx Senior Society. After graduation, Legend worked as a PowerPoint-ing number-cruncher at blue-chip Boston Consulting Group before his velveteen larynx took over.
Alma mater: Harvard University.
Degree: BA in social studies, 1986.
The guitarist from Joe McElderry-trouncing agitprop-sters Rage Against The Machine matriculated at Harvard in 1982 later founding the Ivy League’s first heavy metal interest group. Upon graduation, Morello shunned mandatory data-entry serfdom by working as a male stripper in Hollywood instead.
Alma mater: Imperial College, London.
Degrees: BSc (Hons) in physics and mathematics, 1969; PhD in astrophysics, 2008.
The Queen axe-twiddler started his astronomy PhD in 1970 but didn’t finish until 38 years later (squiring Anita Dobson and popping up on the Buckingham Palace roof clearly got in the way). Finally handing in his 48,000-word thesis on “radial velocities in the zodiacal dust cloud” in 2008, to this day he signs off as “Dr Bri” on his truly cosmic blog, Brian’s Soapbox.
Rivers Cuomo, Weezer
Alma mater: Harvard University.
Degree: English, 2006.
Rivers’s Weezer bandmates must hate him. Every time they sample a smidgen of success, their bespectacled frontman scampers off to study again at Harvard. It all began in autumn 1995 when he started an English degree, months after first hit Buddy Holly. Eleven years later he graduated, but not before gossip website Gawker.com stumbled across a paper written by Cuomo for his course, wherein he described his penchant for massage parlours, two years of celibacy and wet dreams triggered by abstinence. Cuomo is also an avowed Dungeons Dragons fan. Go figure.
Alma Mater: University of Phoenix.
Course: Psychology (started: 2007).
In 2007, cough syrup-guzzling New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne signed up for an online course in psychology via the University of Phoenix (he’d already attended the University of Houston two years earlier). So inspiring was the course, Wayne waxed poetic to The Guide in 2008 about “the beauty of psychology, the beauty of humanity. Psychology teaches you that you could never know someone”. Three years later he was banged up in Rikers Island jail, where presumably he had as many psychological case studies as he wanted