5 famous people who returned to study


If you’ve ever wondered whether you were on the right career path, you’re not alone. 47% of Australians had considered working somewhere else or making a complete career change.

If you’ve ever wondered whether you were on the right career path, you’re not alone.

In a survey released last year by SEEK, 47% of Australians had considered working somewhere else or making a complete career change. Whilst some career changes can be easy to make, others may require further study and qualifications. At Torrens University, we’ve noticed a trend in students returning to study and oftentimes in courses completely different to their previous careers.

The Advertiser, a daily newspaper published in the city of Adelaide, recently interviewed our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Justin Beilby on this topic.

“We are seeing more people who want to change careers, or create more flexibility in their lives as well as those just looking to get new skills and additional education. About a third are going back because they want to get a new job, new skills and move into a different career. People are now more comfortable changing careers,” said Professor Beilby.

Torrens University offers a range of career-focused undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Business, Education, Hospitality, Design, Health, Project Management and Sports Management for study on-campus, online or a hybrid of both. So it’s only natural that we support those looking to continue or further their studies and while we do have great examples of students of our own who have gone on to do great things after further study, we use the example of five famous people below who had returned to university to complete their studies or to gain further qualifications.

1. Shaquille O’Neal

“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”

Towering above others at a height of 2.16m tall, Shaquille O’Neal was destined to be a basketball legend. Back in 1992, in order to join the Orlando Magic, he left Louisiana State University. Promising his mother he’d one day return to graduate and he did just that in 2000, completing a Bachelor in Business from the same university in which he left.

This wasn’t the end of his studies however. Whilst juggling his basketball career and the fame that came with it, O’Neal then enrolled into an online MBA program at The University of Phoenix. The flexibility of the course meant that he could graduate in 2005, despite his busy lifestyle. And that wasn’t the end of it either. In 2011, O’Neal continued his education at Barry University where he received his doctorate in Education.

2.Tyra Banks

When Tyra Banks was Invited walk in her first Milan and Paris fashion weeks, she dropped out of Loyola Marymount University.

Despite finding success in a string of careers as a; model, actress, creator and presenter of reality television series, America’s Next Top Model, talk show host of The Tyra Banks Show and numerous other achievements, she always regretted not finishing a formal education. But in 2011 that changed when she enrolled herself in Harvard University’s Owner/ President Management Program, a division of Harvard Business School.

“Through a nine-week program, Banks learned executive business skills which she uses in her role as the CEO of her production company, Bankable Productions.”


3. Vera Wang

“Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way.” 

Famed fashion and bridal dress designer, Vera Wang, hadn’t always dreamed of a career in fashion. Her earlier career included a shot at the Olympics in figure skating.

When that dream ended, Wang enrolled herself at Sarah Lawrence College to study a degree in art history. However, in her second year, she dropped out and moved to Paris where she studied at Sorbonne University. After a year there, Wang moved back to New York and completed her degree at Sarah Lawrence College.

Upon graduating, she landed herself a job at Vogue magazine in the early 1970s. At just age 23, Wang was promoted to editor, launching her career in fashion.

4. Emma Watson

At just age 11, Emma Watson rose to fame in her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series. She appeared in all eight films between 2001- 2011.

In 2009, Watson enrolled herself at Brown University but due to her filming commitments, the starlet had to take a leave of absence after 18 months of study. The four year bachelor in English literature course ended up taking her five years to complete but she did end up returning to the same university in order to graduate.

Since then, Watson has promoted education for girls where she visited Bangladesh and Zambia to do so. In 2014 at age 24, she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador.

“Watson has promoted education for girls where she visited Bangladesh and Zambia to do so. In 2014 at age 24, she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador.”


5. Phil Knight

Co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight is said to have:

“Discovered his entrepreneurial spirit in a ‘small business class’ while he was studying for an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business.”

It was during his studies here that he formed Blue Ribbon Sports which was later renamed to Nike Inc. As of January 2018, Knight was ranked by Forbes as the 31st richest person in the world.

Prior to obtaining his MBA, Knight received a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.

Whilst having not yet reached this level of fame, our own examples at Torrens University where students have gone on to find success after further study include; a plumber who trained in project management and is now a university lecturer, a former accountant who studied a Bachelor of Media Design and is now a graphic designer and an IT professional who completed a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and now manages a small business.

If you’ve ever thought about a career change or furthering your studies, talk to one of our course and career advisors to find out here.

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