Rihanna Made It To Harvard – But Did She Need To?

Recently, pop star Rihanna was honored with a Harvard Humanitarian Award for her participation in global health, education and the empowerment of women. When she finally stepped up to receive her award – after a number of student speeches outlining her many accomplishments – she quipped “So, I made it to Harvard…”


Rihanna’s tongue-in-cheek comment actually touches on a much more deeply fundamental question, however: just how important is a college degree in certain fields? Of course if you’re looking for someone to design a multimillion dollar home, you want someone with a load of degrees in architecture and engineering and if you are looking for someone to remove your colon, you want a full display wall of certificates from prestigious institutions. But how important is a college degree, really, to those wanting to record a best-selling album or win an Oscar?


There are, of course, a number of arguments in favor of a college education for everyone. Even the most successful people will need to have some understanding of how to manage their own finances – since those that don’t are most susceptible to being robbed blind by unscrupulous money mangers. The question is, however, is a college degree really necessary for that?


There are a number of celebrities that clearly think it is. Child star Brooke Shields famously took time off from her acting career to pursue a degree at Princeton and A-List celebs ranging from Adam Sandler to Alec Baldwin to Carrie Underwood all hold college degrees. On the other hand, a wide range of A-List celebs and some of the wealthiest people on the planet – including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates – didn’t seem to feel a college degree was necessary for their success. And clearly they were right. Some celebs, like Mark Wahlberg, Christina Aguilera and Simon Cowell didn’t even graduate high school.


It seems that a clear argument can be made that while success may be somewhat predicated on being well-educated, education is not always synonymous with having a college degree. While Rihanna may have finally made it to Harvard, it doesn’t seem like her lack of a degree has held her back in any way.


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