Emma Roberts Defers College, But Should She Stay In School?

Emma Roberts announced last week that she is putting college on hold in order to concentrate on her career, for the time being at least. The young starlet has deferred her current enrollment at New York's Sarah Lawrence College due to "work commitments."

"Deferment" is the term being used by all of the requisite publicists for Roberts, making everyone carefully dance around the other d-word: "drop-out."

It's one thing for the "Scream 4" star to want to take a break to keep her career momentum strong, but if this girl wants a future in Hollywood, it may make more fiscal sense for her to keep hitting the books.

"I think this is an excuse that Emma Roberts doesn't want to complete college," said Hollywood Life Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Fuller. "Oscar-winning actresses have gone to college, which hasn't hurt their careers. Meryl Streep went to Dartmouth, and who has a bigger career than her?"

In Roberts' defense, perhaps she fears that taking four years off to get a degree can render a young actress like herself useless in Hollywood when she comes back. As we all know, Tinseltown has a notoriously short attention span for shiny, young things.

But a few facts and figures show that the cost of leaving Hollywood for college may be more of a myth than a standard. Should Roberts decide to become a college co-ed again, she'll be in great company.

Jodie Foster graduated from Yale University in 1985 and returned to Hollywood to win two Oscars. Other actresses who chose college, at least for a little while, include Natalie Portman (Harvard '03), Julia Stiles (Columbia '05), Claire Danes (attended Yale for two years), Anna Paquin (attended Columbia for one year) and Anne Hathaway, who attended Vassar College for several semesters before transferring to NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

So what happened to these college-experienced actresses? Portman went on to star in a little-known franchise called "Star Wars," while Stiles landed a role in the "Bourne" trilogy opposite Matt Damon. Paquin and Danes can be seen heating up the small screen on HBO's "True Blood" and Showtime's "Homeland," respectively, and Hathaway has become one of the most in-demand actresses in the business.

An argument can actually be made that attending college could give an actress an edge in the Oscar race. Of the 39 women nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award since 2000, 25 had at least some post-high school education.

At the end of the day, there is no guarantee of remaining hot in Hollywood forever. In fact, the cards are stacked against the success of young women, even if they happen to be related to Julia Roberts, and attending college gives young starlets like Emma Roberts something to fall back on if their careers take a hit.