Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, and Mark Wahlberg are only some of the A-list stars who proved you don’t need a college degree to make it in Hollywood. Is Arnold Schwarzenegger also one of them or did he pursue higher education before becoming a household name?
Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger went to college. He tried to improve his English by attending Santa Monica College and continued his education at the University of Wisconsin–Superior, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and fitness marketing.
Santa Monica College
Arnold Schwarzenegger knew very little English when he moved to the US in 1968. He was still determined to make his dream of becoming a Hollywood star come true, and the first step towards reaching this goal was improving his English skill.
In the early 1970s, the young bodybuilding sensation decided to give Santa Monica College a shot. His initial idea was to only take English as a second language, because he was aware he needed to have a good grasp of this language if he wanted to make it in America.
During his commencement speech at Santa Monica College in 2005, Arnie admitted he was scared he wouldn’t fit and “look like an idiot” when he first decided to make this step. Luckily, one of the counselors saw his potential, and encouraged him to expand his horizons. This was the reason why he decided to take math and business classes, in addition to learning English.
Other Famous Alumni
Arnold Schwarzenegger is amongst the most notable people to ever graduate from Santa Monica College, but he’s not the only famous Hollywood actor who studied here. James Dean is one of the most iconic stars to ever attend this college, but the list goes on.
The two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman, Gossip Girl actor Penn Badgley, and acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson all attended Santa Monica College at one point. Famous community college also opened its doors to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, billionaire producer David Geffen, and television personality Ryan Seacrest.
Arnie’s Bachelor’s Degree
After his time at Santa Monica College, Schwarzenegger was within striking distance of getting a college degree, because he had just enough college credits to think about pursuing this goal. He started to seriously consider this option after visiting the University of Wisconsin-Superior as a guest lecturer, and psychology professor Rhea S. Das managed to recruit him to the campus.
Schwarzenegger was already a successful bodybuilder at that point, and having an ordinary college experience was out of the question. He became part of the university’s “extended degree” program, and paid in-state tuition fees despite the fact he completed most of his class work remotely from Los Angeles and only flew in to meet with professors and take his exams.
His college experience was also made easier by the fact that he received “life experience” credits as a fitness expert, but the university’s arts department failed to give him any credits. His filmography still wasn’t impressive enough at that point, and it included an over-dubbed role in Hercules in New York. That didn’t stop Schwarzenegger from getting his bachelor’s degree in business administration and fitness marketing in 1979.
Schwarzenegger Legacy at UW-Superior
Unlike Santa Monica College, the University of Wisconsin–Superior doesn’t have a long list of famous alumni, and having Arnold Schwarzenegger attend it was quite a big deal. Rhea S. Das put an effort into recruiting the Terminator star, after predicting he would be an attraction and add a touch of celebrity to the campus.
It turned out that the psychology professor was right, since Arnie ended up creating quite a stir every time he appeared on campus. He went down in history as the university’s most popular alumni, and was even considered for their first honorary doctorate in 1993. He lost out to Native American artist Fritz Scholder, but eventually received his own three years later.