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Posted at 12:27 PM ET, 02/27/2011

James Franco’s unusual education

By Valerie Strauss

James Franco, actor and co-host of The Academy Awards tonight, likes going to school. In fact, he still is, studying for his doctorate in English at Yale University, while fitting in movie and television appearances on the side.

Franco, born in Palo Alto, Calif., graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1996, where he was voted “Best Smile” by his senior class. He enrolled at UCLA as a freshman that same year, but didn’t last long, deciding to give acting a chance.

That gambit worked exceedingly well, but Franco still wanted an education. He returned to UCLA in the fall of 2006, at age 28, cramming as many courses as he could into each quarter. His course load ranged from 20 to 62 credits per quarter (anyone wanting to do more than 19 a quarter needs special permission), all the while maintaining a grade point average of above 3.5.

He was awarded with a bachelor’s degree in English, with a creative writing concentration in June 2008, at which point he headed for New York and enrolled in not one or two schools but three: Columbia University’s M.F.A. writing program; Brooklyn College for creative writing; and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for directing.

He earned a masters degree from Columbia and then moved on to Yale, where he is now studying for a doctorate in English.

“I love school," he once told People magazine. "I go to school because I love being around people who are interested in what I’m interested in and I’m having a great experience."

Anne Hathaway, Franco's co-host for the Oscars, studied at Vassar College in New York, studying as an English major and women’s studies minor, but she transferred in 2005 after several semesters to New York University. There she enrolled in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, which allows students to construct their own educational program. She did not earn a degree, though has said she would like to return one day.

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By Valerie Strauss  | February 27, 2011; 12:27 PM ET
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  anne hathaway, columbia university, james franco, the academy awards, the oscars, yale university  
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Speaking of James's some great reporting on the teachers union/collective bargaining debate from Matt Bai in today's New York Times Magazine:

"Like a stand-up comedian working out-of-the-way clubs, Chris Christie travels the townships and boroughs of New Jersey­, places like Hackettstown and Raritan and Scotch Plains, sharpening his riffs about the state’s public employees, whom he largely blames for plunging New Jersey into a fiscal death spiral.

In one well-worn routine, for instance, the governor reminds his audiences that, until he passed a recent law that changed the system, most teachers in the state didn’t pay a dime for their health care coverage, the cost of which was borne by taxpayers.

And so, Christie goes on, forced to cut more than $1 billion in local aid in order to balance the budget, he asked the teachers not only to accept a pay freeze for a year but also to begin contributing 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care. The dominant teachers’ union in the state responded by spending millions of dollars in television and radio ads to attack him."

Full article at:

Posted by: frankb1 | February 27, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

frankb1: and this comments on the blog how? Aren't comments supposed to be relevant? If you want to sound off on any topic that interests you, get your own blog!

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 28, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse


Frankb1 is more interested in propaganda than serious information and discussion.

Here’s only PART of what he left out (frankb1 still hasn’t come clean on who he’s trolling for, but he sure likes big-mouth Christie).

“Yet it’s hard to see Christie getting so much traction if he were out there castigating, say, immigrants or Wall Street bankers. What makes Christie compelling to so many people isn’t simply plain talk or swagger, but also the fact that he has found the ideal adversary for this moment of economic vertigo. Ronald Reagan had his “welfare queens,” Rudy Giuliani had his criminals and “squeegee men,” and now Chris Christie has his sprawling and powerful public-sector unions — teachers, cops and firefighters who Christie says are driving up local taxes beyond what the citizenry can afford, while also demanding the kind of lifetime security that most private-sector workers have already lost.”

“It may just be that Christie has stumbled onto the public-policy issue of our time, which is how to bring the exploding costs of the public workforce in line with reality...Then again, he may simply be the latest in a long line of politicians to give an uneasy public the scapegoat it demands. Depending on your vantage point, Chris Christie is a truth-teller or a demagogue, or maybe even a little of both.”

With regard to teacher salaries in New Jersey, “the most affluent communities end up setting a statewide standard — a process that drives up everyone else’s costs to a level that the local governments simply can’t sustain by themselves.”

And in terms of pension funding: “At no time in the last 17 years has New Jersey fully met its annual obligation to the pension fund, and in many of those years, the state paid nothing at all.”

“ (That didn’t stop one governor, Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican, from increasing payouts by 9 percent and lowering the retirement age before he left office, which would be kind of like Bernie Madoff writing you a $1 million check before heading off to jail.)”

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 28, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What the crap are these comments? Is James Franco playing Chris Christie in a movie or something?

On topic: how on earth do you do 62 credits in a semester? At 3 credits per class, that's 20 classes. Even if it were 4 credits per class, that's still 15 or 16. How many personal assistants does Franco have, and why are these schools willing to make themselves look like jokes for him? I grant you that Franco is adorable, but the idea that these schools are either that easy, or that willing to give special perks to stars, would make me not want to go to them.

Posted by: dkp01 | February 28, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

*semester should be quarter.

Posted by: dkp01 | February 28, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

James Franco was so amazing in Freaks and Geeks. Too bad it was canceled after only one season.

Posted by: waxtraxs | February 28, 2011 5:49 PM | Report abuse

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